Friday, 7 December 2012

Arty Farty finally gets to party

Yay! Our friend snapped this outside Arty Farty tonight. Until the dance crackdown, Arty Farty was one of the liveliest venues in Nichome, Tokyo's lesbigaytrans heartland - a place with an excellent sound system, where a late night groove could be depended on. For several months, following the recent dance ban, it has been something of a shadow of its former self, but now it seems the dance ban (here at least) has been lifted!

A bargain struck with the local police? A sign of defiance on the part of a small venue? A change of policy in response to the Let's Dance petition and actions? Who knows? We will investigate further and let you know in the coming weeks.

For the time being, dust off your dancing shoes and trip the light fantastic... Arty Farty can party again.

Friday, 23 November 2012

NINJA Dance Movement

So Niji Iro Ninja has now merged with Dance Movement Japan becoming NINJA Dance Movement! Henceforth to be referred to as NINJA Dance Movement or NDM for short. By the way, the NINJA is an acronym for Niji Iro Ninja JApan!

The Facebook page is here and the Facebook group is here. We will keep you informed of NDM events. Check out the FB page and join the FB group and invite your friends. Yoroshiku!

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Jérôme Bel for F/T

Here's one of the very cool flash mobs that's taken place as part of the F/T art festival.  Choreographed by Jérôme Bel, I love that this dance is made up of movements easy enough for regular people to execute, while hitting a sweet spot between ridiculous, fun, and joyful.  

F/T Mob series

The F/T Mob series is part of the F/T art festival. In each F/T Mob, a renowned choreographer or director stages a flash mob intervention involving dancers and members of the public. Unfortunately, I missed the start of this festival but some of my friends attended and participated in the event directed by hip hop choreographer, KENTARO!! which melded hip hop with contemporary dance. All events are centred on Ikebukuro, the home turf of the F/T festival. There are two more weekends of flash mobs, this coming weekend's, by contemporary dancer/choreographer, Momoko Shiraga, and next weekend's intervention by mime artist and director, Shuji Onodera. For more information, check out the F/T website.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

revelry and other crimes

'Time to change a strange adult entertainment law in Japan', by Richard Smart, posted on CNN Travel on January 26th, 2011

This article takes a look at some of the strange and outdated points of the fueiho.  My personal favorite states that "In night hours (which in Tokyo law are between 1 a.m. and dawn), customers are not to partake in revelry (yukyou)."

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Yoyogi circle dance at dusk...

Yesterday's protest had an infectious spontaneity! Niji Iro Ninjas joined a group of break dancers in the circular paved area at the entrance of Yoyogi Park, made a large circle and watched our friends take turns free-styling to whatever came up! Admittedly, this wasn't entirely what we had planned - not quite a full-on spectacle (that is something we need to work on) - but we rallied anyway and managed to welcome fine newcomers including a high school student who leapt into the circle and threw some shapes and a friendly Finn tourist, nicknamed Pie Chart, who pulled out his salt-liquorice Salmiakki Liquor - 32% proof - and shared it with us! Our man Isaac did a top job of getting everyone fired up with his fabulous moves and the break dancers were so generous in extending their groove to our gathering.

The whole thing had a kind of innocence about it, like an episode of Fame from the 80s transmuted to 21st century Nihon. (The whole NYC park fantasy dance thing very much fits Yoyogi somehow! if you know what I mean - Yoyogi Tower has that NYC Chrysler Building vibe about it.)

A boom box, break dancers, dusk, hip hop, disco, gundam, Salmiakki, friends = nearly the best soul tonic there is pretty much! As my friend Nina beautifully put it 'yesterday's [dance protest] sounds like it was hitting that important place of innocence and joy that is always more radical than is apparent'.

Let's do it again, and soon.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Don't let them pull the shutters on late night dancing...

Today is the latest Niji Iro Ninja dance protest. Get yourself to Yoyogi Park at 5pm and stop the powers that be pulling the shutters on late night dancing in Japan. From about now there is a picnic, so feel free to join and get to know the community!

Monday, 5 November 2012

Free the dance! Flash mob #5.

Concerned about the dance crackdown sweeping Japan?  If you're in the Tokyo area, head down to Yoyogi park this Saturday at 5pm for Niji Iro Ninja's 5th flash mob!  We'll be busting moves from the Gangam Style and Thriller dances, but if you don't know the steps, there'll be time for freestyle too! Our events are really fun, friendly, and international- so bring a friend and get ready to make some new ones.  Your friends are interested in this issue but shy about dancing in public, you say?  We welcome non dancers who support the cause and want to join the party. 

11月10日(土)17時から代々木公園でNiji Iro Ninjaの5回目のフラッシュモブをやります。
今回は最近流行っているGangam Styleとスリラーのダンスを踊ります。


Typo? Yes... our editors are working on that. 

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Dancing in the street...a short history of the Rainbow Ninja revolution

Dance Out Loud is the website of the Niji Iro Ninja (Rainbow Ninjas) dance protest group and community. Niji Iro Ninja was started in late August as a response to the dance crackdown that has been sweeping Japan over the last two years and that was making itself strongly felt in clubs in and around Tokyo. Places that had once been pleasant hangouts for late-night dancing, not necessarily large clubs, but venues with a lively atmosphere, great for letting off steam on Friday or Saturday night, such as Arty Farty in Shinjuku's Nichome, were now being raided by police officers ordering people to stop moving and instructing venues to put up signs telling clients that dancing was forbidden. Yes, incomprehensible!

We are a group (including Japanese nationals and foreign Japan residents) who love dancing and who are passionately opposed to the increasingly rigid enforcement of a law that is as ridiculous as it is archaic! If you are interested in contributing to our community and its activities, please feel free to join us by following us here or on Facebook or Twitter. We welcome your ideas and suggestions as well as your participation in our events. Hopefully our activities will increase awareness of this sinister law and spur others to protest it in their own creative ways. We are open to contributions from all, irrespective of gender, age, sexual orientation, race or creed. Also, you don’t have to be resident in Japan to contribute! (But you do have to be resident in Japan to sign the Let's Dance petition.)

Niji Iro Ninja organises flash mobs in Tokyo aimed at increasing awareness of the late-night dancing ban and creating a community of like-minded friends keen to reverse the law and protect our right to dance through the night! So far flash mob events have been held at Shinjuku station and Shibuya Hachiko square and Sentaa Gai street. In a matter of weeks, the group has gone from a keen core of twenty or so peeps to a veritable international community - the Zombie Prom flashmob on October 20th in Shibuya was a total blast with a motley crew of zombies in spooky maquillage, getting their ghoulish haunches quivering to that towering classic of zombie pop, Michael Jackson's Thriller.

Future possible locations for dance protests and flash mobs are central night spots such as Roppongi and Harajuku, university campuses in and around Tokyo and Yokohama, and possibly places known for their vibrant bar and live music scenes, such as Shimokitazawa, Koenji, Nakano, Kichijoji... Watch this space...

On this site you will find information about the law and its enforcement and news of the activities of our community and sometimes of other groups, like us, who are also involved in protesting it. We will continue to post links to articles covering these topics as well as related sites. You will also find some more general information about dance culture in Japan, which we wish to celebrate and promote.

As a group, we wish to get people together to protest the crack down. We don’t advocate breaking the law as this may cause problems for venues and hassle for those working in them. Discretion is necessary in all actions and we respect the staff in clubs and do not wish to cause them undue stress. However, we do passionately advocate protesting against the enforcement of this crazy law, which should, we believe, be repealed and abandoned entirely! It is depressing, controlling, out-of-date...

The dance crackdown seems to have been instigated by a reactionary posse of shadowy establishment figures, bureaucrats, police chiefs and other bigwigs who are intent on destroying the late night dance scene. Apparently, the governors of Osaka and Tokyo would prefer to promote casinos. Though I am no expert on these matters, don't casinos have a stronger link with the criminal underground than your small or medium-sized dance or live music venue??? Which would you prefer in your city, large unsightly pachinko parlours and casinos with their blinding lights and deadening throng of slot machines, or small and medium-sized venues with a program of live music, club nights, dance classes and art exhibitions? A carbuncle packed with gambling drones or a creative hub promoting local talent and exciting youth cultures?

Puzzlingly, this crackdown is seemingly at odds with the policies of the Education Ministry, which make dance a compulsory part of the Physical Education curriculum in Junior High Schools.  So, it is okay for JHS studes to be dancing under the supervision of their teacher, but young adults are not to be trusted to dance after dark, to create their own vital forms of culture beyond the watchful eyes of their seniors. What coercive, paternalistic nonsense is this?

And for those that claim that Japanese night spots are noisy or unruly, that certainly hasn't been my experience of clubbing in Japan. On the contrary, many clubs are tucked away in basements, well sound-proofed, with staff that are considerate to those that reside in the vicinity. Japanese clubbers do not seem to me to be a particularly rowdy bunch. The atmosphere in clubs tends to be friendly, unthreatening, not overly drunken, certainly not unruly. The Japanese night is almost miraculously benign and attitude-free, especially to foreign observers! Of course clubs need to be safe, of course club owners need to take responsibility for noise, to keep drugs and under-age partiers off their premises. Of course. As far as I can see, Japanese club owners have been doing a very good job on all of these counts, so why the sudden change of policy?

Our group believes that late night dance culture is an essential element of a healthy and vibrant culture, a joyful expression of our love of music and a celebration of existence! It is a way of meeting and interacting with others, a beautiful form of exercise and a wonderful way to relieve stress in our hectic contemporary world! Dancing in clubs can provide access to fascinating people, music, art, performance, film, fashion, body art, and a wonderful plethora of exciting new cultures and trends from all over the world!

Furthermore, it is good for business in Japan! At a time when Japan is in the economic doldrums, shouldn't the government be promoting lively and lucrative forms of youth culture and expression, not criminalising them?

Why, suddenly, at the start of the 21st century, should the Japanese government choose to deprive Japan of the pleasures associated with the fascinating and vibrant culture that has developed around dancing in nightclubs, when the opposite is true of most world metropolises?

It has been two years since the dance crackdown started in earnest, so it is high time to stand up for free expression. We need to fight for our right to party through the night; to fight together peacefully, respectfully, with the funk of 40,000 years... If we don’t fight for late-night dancing, then other freedoms and cultures may be eroded by a nonsensical agenda which aims at straightjacketing youth expression.

Please join us now!

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

unite 2 fight the dance prohibitions

Anti-dancing law out of step with Japan's youth culture by Eriko Arita in The Japan Times is a good intro to the police crackdown and resultant disillusionment in the club community.

The article quotes a recent interview with Ryo Isobe, seasoned Tokyo clubber and author of the book, "Odotte wa Ikenai Kuni, Nihon (Japan: the Country Where You Must Not Dance)", which is about his experiences and views of the late-night dance ban.
The piece also draws attention to the murkier politics involved in the crackdown - the Tokyo Government's attempts at a 'purification mission' in Kabukicho (!) and the Osaka government's possible intentions to separate the entertainment district from residential areas, promoting casinos instead of dance clubs...
These government drives tend to push the sex trade further underground, making conditions worse for sex workers, at the same time crushing the late night dance scene (which as we know, has little direct involvement with the sex industry anyway).
The piece finishes with a call to action from Isobe who says clubs should be more united in their actions, lobby politicians, and clean up their act by ensuring customer ID is checked on entry to their premises and that drugs are kept out of clubs.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

flashbacks of '98

The Fueiho is not a new law, nor is this the first time it's been used to suppress club, music, and youth culture. While searching for information on the current crackdown, I came across this article, published in Tokyo Classified (which would go on to be renamed Metropolis in 2001).  Stop the Music, published in issue 296, seems to have been written in the late 90's, and describes a crackdown on clubs in Minato ward.  The thing that struck me about this article is how similar the situation was to the one we have now, in 2012.  Familiar themes emerged: a lack of clarity on why the old law was suddenly being enforced, theories of certain areas being targeted for image change, and few willing to speak on record.

Then, too, the reaction from the club/ music/ dance world was that the law was ridiculous and oppressive.  Here's one voice of protest: a anti-Fueiho anthem from You the Rock.  From 1998, here's Hoo! Ei! Ho!

Sunday, 21 October 2012

High Jinx in Shibuya with an excited group of young zombies protesting the dance ban...

Yesterday's Zombie Prom was a blast! The costumes and the larger number of participants helped to make a more determined ripple in the lively pond that is Saturday-night Shibuya.  The dancing zombies and funky spooks met in Yoyogi Park and at the Hachiko dog, practiced moves, put on their faces and generally psyched up before setting off in a raggle-taggle parade down Sentaa Gai, handing out fliers and Let's Dance Petitions...

Thanks to all participants for an excellent awareness building parade and let's meet again soon. In the meantime don't forget to print off the Let's Dance petition, sign it, get your friends to sign it and pop it in the post. Have your say!

Friday, 19 October 2012

Zombie Prom

Darkness Falls Across The Land 

The Midnite Hour Is Close At Hand 

Creatures Crawl In Search Of Blood 

To Terrorize Y'awl's Neighbourhood 

And Whosoever Shall Be Found 

Without The Soul For Getting Down 

Must Stand And Face The Hounds Of Hell 

And Rot Inside A Corpse's Shell 

The Foulest Stench Is In The Air 

The Funk Of Forty Thousand Years 

And Grizzy Ghouls From Every Tomb 

Are Closing In To Seal Your Doom 

And Though You Fight To Stay Alive 

Your Body Starts To Shiver 

For No Mere Mortal Can Resist 

The Evil Of The...

Tonight, 10PM at Shibuya Hachiko exit....


take it to the streets

Dance hall days

'Japan: no dancing please', by James Hadfield, posted on Japan Connect on Friday, October 12th, 2012

This in-depth article dives into the historical context in which the fueiho developed, from the first crackdown on dance halls in the 1920's, to the links between prostitution and dance in the 40's that were the the reality when the 1948 laws were penned.   After brushing us up on our history, Hadfield explores theories of why the crackdown is happening.  Is this a public morality campaign, a convenient cover for other police investigations, or something else?


'Let them dance', Editorial comment in The Japan Times on Sunday, August 5th, 2012

This opinion piece describes how the enforcement of the Business Entertainment Control Law squeezes out smaller clubs and businesses while denying youngsters meaningful spaces in which to socialize and enjoy themselves. While safety regulations are obviously important, the editorial points out that fights, drugs and prostitution are not specifically linked to the DJ and music scene, and so the outlawing of dance as a threat to public morals is meaningless.

Get into the groove...

To bring you up to date on developments over the last couple of years and further back still, we will post informative articles which have appeared in various publications casting some light on the dance ban madness starting with:

'Late-night dancing should not be a crime in Japan', by Ian Martin, from The Japan Times on Thursday, November 24th, 2011

This article discusses the impact of the recent police crackdown on the dance scene in Tokyo and Osaka as well as the live music scene in smaller provincial cities such as Kumamoto, where it has been even more devastating. Martin describes the ban as an attack on local culture and regional economies and the vague and outdated Business Entertainment Control Law as a 'convenient stick with which to beat down a section of society [the police] feel threatens social harmony.' 

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Dance: a menace to society?

Did you know that late night dancing in Japan is facing a police crackdown? This is because, in the last couple of years, without any official explanation, police have started enforcing a 1948 law restricting dance  - a law that was more or less ignored for six decades! It is known as the Entertainment and Amusement Trade Control Law or alternatively The Businesses Affecting Public Morals Regulation Law.  In Japanese, it's known as the Fueiho (short for Fuzoku Eigyo Torishimari Horitsu).   

We are a group of dance lovers passionately opposed to the enforcement of a law which is ridiculous, archaic and sinister! We wish to raise awareness of the dance ban and gather support for the Let's Dance petition, which calls for dancing to be removed from the activities that are regulated under the Entertainment and Amusement Trade Control Law.  If you too oppose the current crackdown on dance, please join us by following us here or on Facebook or Twitter and by signing the online petition!

On this blog you will find: 
information about the law and its enforcement
news about the activities of our community and of other groups protesting the ban
links to articles covering these topics 

We welcome your ideas and participation. Together let’s reclaim our right to dance through the night!