One Night in Tokyo
The night begins at Shibuya, where we patiently await a rendezvous with friends of friends; I relish the opportunity to absorb the spectacle unfolding before my eyes. Bright lights and video screens plastered on the buildings provide an eternal twilight over Shibuya crossing, where hundreds of people cross the street every time the music plays. Voices fade in and out, as diverse from the salarymen still in their suits to the group of hip-hoppers freestyling on the street corner.
Eventually, the new people arrive and we settle into a karaoke booth. The beer flows. Someone waves the microphone in my face and suddenly Iím having a go with ďHollaback GirlĒ. A Japanese song is next and the mic goes back the same way it came.
A while later, we stumble out of karaoke, less coordinated than expected. Those who are incapable of going any further take a costly taxi ride home. I soldier on.
* * *
A quick cab ride and we are about to enter the Gas Panic club. There is no bouncer and no line; everyone just crowds the entrance until they are inside. No cover is paid, but everyone must be drinking to stay in...
Inside, girls dance on the bar wearing almost nothing. The bartenders breathe out flames 3-feet long to the chorus of Prodigyís Fire. It is crowded. I become increasingly conscious of the prominence of my camera and my wallet in two of my pockets - not for fear of theft, but more a feeling of guilt for taking up more space than necessary in the brimming club.
A bit of head bobbing and arm waving is all that is possible on the packed dance floor. I try my best to follow the two girls I was traveling with through the crowded maze of people, and soon we arrive at the centre of the dance floor and give in to the music.
Some time later, by the natural currents and tides of the club, we find ourselves on the edge of the dance floor again.
The girls want to get back into the mix, but instead we are meeting up with more friends (in my case, itís now friends of friendsí friends). Outside Gas Panic, we encounter the new group and to my surprise I find myself shaking hands with my old frosh leader, Jeff. Itís a small world.
* * *
Itís 4am and the last stop for the night is another karaoke bar. By this time Iím content to just sing along on the choruses.
A rousing rendition of "Ghostbusters" ends the night.
At 5:30am, I say goodbye to all my new friends and head back to Jesseís to pick up my bag and hop on the next train to Nagano. Out of my original group, I was the only one with plans early in the morning, and ironically, the only one who managed to stay out the entire night!
The End. 6:15am