Monday, 29 October 2012

Halloween in Japan

Wednesday may be October 31st, but as far as Kyouto is concerned Saturday is Halloween. Seven, bleeding profusely from her face, escorts me to her part-time place of employment, a Nepalese restaurant on the fifth floor of a building that also houses a carport and a Softbank office. Every surface is blanketed in exotic fabrics, including the walls and ceiling, giving the impression of being inside a fancy square pillowcase; it recalls a Yemense bazaar I saw at Expo 2005. I meet more of her friends, a decaying doctor duo, and we sample some Nepalese cuisine on Seven's yen. It's basically bread made of pure cheese. It's amazing.

We'll be meeting Hyeong and 2012 at our destination. I'd already spoken with 2012 about the club in question, called Butterfly. After wondering if it was a gay bar, I inquired as to its general qualities:

2012: It's practically the only club in Kyouto.
Me: That good, eh?
2012: No, it's terrible. The drinks are expensive, it's dirty, the music is awful...
Me: That's what a club is. At least it has a good atmosphere, right?
2012: No, it's pretty boring most of the time.
Me: But the girls have gotta be good.
2012: No, the girls are just plain loose...
Me: As long as they're hot.
2012: They aren't.

I was psyched. You would never, ever guess by looking at me, but I love clubs. I'm not going out every weekend or anything, but I love alcohol, I love to dance, and I love crowds.

Outside we run into Anarchy in the UK and I'm Not Chinese, as I'd suspected we might. Luckily, they're among the few of my roommates whom I actually like. A cold J-girl is also there and so is Arzenchia, who speaks Spanish (the most annoying language ever), whistles interminably (making me want to punch her in the face), and gets pissy when stressed (because she's kind of an idiot), but they're basically harmless, so overall it's ok.

If for any reason you're thinking that Japan is some quaint Asian backwater without real nightlife, set yourself straight right now. There's even legit ID and weapons checks, a first for me in Japan, though of course both have their workarounds, as I later confirm with a group of hot 18-year-olds. The first thing Anarchy in the UK and I notice is the apocalyptic cloud permeating every inch of available space, because this, as we know, is a country whose smoking culture makes Donald Draper look a Mormon. Even the girls, who usually restrain themselves in public, are lighting up with abandon. In no time my hair smells like gutter and my clothes like Death itself.

The presence of American pop is as total as it is anticipated. There are a few things I'd hoped to escape here, and auditory abomination abortion Call Me Maybe was one of them. Sadly, it's as omnipresent now as ever. Know what? Giving your number to someone you've just met is not remotely crazy; thousands of people are doing it right now. I've even managed it. And then I text the girl, not call her, because nobody has said “call me” without irony since 1998. But the selections are mostly good and hard, and best of all, they aren't as screechingly loud as I'm used to. I mean I'm not doing my 90-year-old self any favours by being here, but outside I won't feel like I'm underwater, either.

But the really interesting thing is an entire wall designated “ladies' seating.” I think it should be pretty clear what the real purpose here is, and it has nothing to do with being courteous to the fairer sex. Yes, sitting in that spot announces that you're on the market. It's refreshingly honest, not to mention convenient!

Roughly two-thirds of patrons are wearing something that could, charitably or otherwise, be called a costume. Most so clad are of the female persuasion, the general goal being to dress as slutty as possible. One is wearing nothing but rabbit ears, a vest, and panties. “Now there's a girl who's had a lot of dicks inside her,” I think admiringly, unable to tear my eyes from her gyrations, and for the first time in my life I understand the appeal of a strip club.

On the bus home after seeingRurouni Kenshin (and it says a lot that Hyeong didn't give a shit about his girlfriend seeing a movie with another man), Seven and I had a fairly in-depth conversation about my relationship history and prospects for this year. Problem is, starting something now and going for the next ten months would tempt me to rollover to a long-distance relationship, and that's just out of the question. We concluded that maybe I should wait until my last four or so months here (unless I find a way to stay longer), and just have a string of one-night stands until then. Perfect, right?!

So it's with the best intentions that she tells me, “Rude Boy. You realise you're going hunting tonight, right? You're not allowed not to.”

At first the idea is laughable. Not that I haven't before, but it's so dependent on luck that it's really not even worth trying, because I have about as much game as a graphing calculator. But then, looking around at all the foreplay I'm drowning in, I start getting depressed. I've always kind of taken it as a truism that girls don't like me, full stop, and it's no big mystery why: Too lewd for the quiet ones, too boring for the loud ones, too ugly for both and too weird for goddamn everybody. My tension sinks, I lose the will to dance. I go to the wall and sulk. I contemplate leaving.

Then I snap out of it; my depression comes and goes of its own volition. I'm back!

I end up enjoying myself so much that I finally realise Seven and her group have long since departed the premises, so I join Anarchy in the UK and his dudes. Then I do a single circuit of the bar...and while I've been gone they've left as well. Ok, not really a problem; they're bicycle people and I have to take the train anyway, so I knew this would happen at some point. I continue to swashbuckle solo.

A group of white guys way too old to be in a nightclub sidle up and I instantly take a powder; not just because I fear that I am eventually going to become them, but because when in public I actively avoid other foreigners on principle. I can be a real dick about it sometimes, too, but I can't stand being lumped in with all those loud, ignorant, monophonic morons. I even play keep-away on the dance floor, lest a third party think that I sometimes associate with people from my own country and culture.

But tonight, I learn the value of teamwork. A pair of girls are being simultaneously assailed by two white hunters and I unintentionally enter the fray. They look around them – foreigner, foreigner, foreigner – uwaaaa! The Cheerleader Effect is in full bloom. And then they notice my dancing. I can't spiral a football or perform parkour, but you know what, I can dance. They like it. White Guy #1 gets grabby with one of the girls. She likes it.

You know what, fuck it.

I take the other one around the waist.


She goes for it.

It doesn't last...a third friend materialises with a matter-of-fact reminder. The one I've acquired glances at me. Discussion is had and further regretful looks are sent my way. I get it. They have to go.

Translation: We will never see each other again.
Translation: Sorry.


Butterfly closes at 2, so I still have four hours. I find another group of girls and we go to Te Amo (again, not a gay bar), a smaller, less interesting venue just around the corner and three floors above street level. They try to disarm the doorman with girliness, but he's unmoved. “Frankly, the girls in there right now are much better-looking than you.” What the hell, doorman? But they don't blink, and manage to talk him down to half-price. Eh, not bad. Reminder: Bar staff are people too.

I almost immediately half-abandon the girls I'm with to look for hotter ones. One likes my dancing – see, I told you there's something to it. But somehow I lose her interest. What am I doing wrong? Later yet another girl pulls me away from my spot and we start dancing, eh, pretty intimately. Then she tries on my hat, gives it back, and finally spins me away. I try to go back and she turns me around again.

Club girls are weird.

I like them.

I have no desire to wrap up, but around six the place is dead, so I formally reconnect with the ones that brought me. They're going to nabe. They ask if I'm coming. I say I will if it's ok with them. They laugh and decide it's a joshikai, and once again I'm alone.

Some nights things don't work out.

I feel bad the whole way home.

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