Dancing with the Fangirlz
Tonight my friend Ayumi and I odori-ed ourselves to happy exhaustion with the fangirls at the Shibuya O-West. It was the annual visual kei Zany Zap Summit, and it did not disappoint.
The live house was packed with about 300 followers of the three bands (as typical, no seats, SRO), and after they called our ticket block – fans are admitted in order of how early they bought their tickets – we were asked which band we’d come to see. Later we found out that bands take home a percentage of the ticket sales (in fact, that is probably ALL they take home for an hour of seriously aerobic performing) so essentially we were voting for who got paid how much that night.
There was a pretty high concentration of Lolitas in the crowd, and we could tell which fans had been with the bands longest by the handjive odori (dances) that went with each song. On every tour a band makes, a new odori is taught to the crowd, so those who have been followers the longest know the most.
Visual kei performances require pretty serious physical fitness on the part of all the musicians (non-stop maniacal drumming, biceps-building guitar axing, concussion-courting headbanging) but there is no harder-working man in show business than a VK lead vocalist. Not only does he have to belt out every song, he has to teach the new handjive, lead the windmilling, and whip the crowd into an ecstatic frenzy between songs while trying to catch his breath.
Here’s a video of Golden Bomber doing odori with fans at a Japanese live house:
Jonelle Patrick is the author of the Only In Tokyo mystery series, published by Penguin/Intermix.