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To Party, or Not To Party

I suck at partying. I’m honestly just really, really bad at it. I have never understood the appeal of mashing my body up against a bunch of sweaty strangers while listening to robot orgy music. I do enjoy music, having a drink with my friends, and going to cool venues. I do not, however, dance, and I do not say “woo”, save to mock individuals who actually do say “woo”. I am terrible at staying up past 3 AM. It is for these reasons I have recently found myself very troubled. You see, I enjoyed myself at two parties last month.

To be fair, I suppose I should point out that while I did, in fact, attend two Halloween parties, I did not, in fact, “party” at either of them. Rather, the experiences served to highlight the fact that (just as on the internet) I am a lurker.

Glitterball, Tokyo, 2012
Showcased here is my inability to take decent photos in dimly lit venues with my iPhone.
My first was Halloween party Glitterball, put on yearly by Metropolis magazine at Vanity Lounge. My boss talked me and one of my coworkers into going to the event, after much coercion. We all cobbled together some cheap costumes (I went as a generic military person from the 50’s, I guess) over the course of a few days and headed out on the night. It started at 6PM, but we arrived sometime around 8PM. I obtained the drink my 2,000 yen entry ticket promised, and spent an hour just wandering around the 15thfloor venue, a place where two of the four walls were windows overlooking Tokyo. I took pictures with a few people who asked, and chatted with others. Costume parties give you a great excuse to talk to people.

By about 9 PM more people were arriving. My boss brought me another drink. I secured an excellent lurking place directly underneath an air vent, and “watched” the costume contest (I say “watched” because I was too short to see everything). I chatted with my coworker, took my picture with a Sith (thanks, dude!) and called it a night at 10PM. Yes, that’s right, 10. Did I mention I suck at parties?

I liked this one because the people there were (mostly) civil, the venue was cool, and the music wasn’t stupidly loud in every corner of the place. People were wearing genuinely creative costumes, too. But 10 PM was enough for me. I enjoyed the time I’d spent people watching, and decided to end the night on that good note.

That Saturday night a work opportunity afforded me the chance to go to another costume party; this time at Shibuya’s Legato, another 15th floor venue high up above the city with amazing views. I did a little work by helping at our company’s tequila sample table, then I spent a little time moseying around the club.

This party was, in theory, exactly the kind of party I’m not built for. It started at 11 PM. People were still pouring in the door at 2:00 AM, when I made my exit. I think the only reason I enjoyed this event was because I had options.

Because I was event staff, I had access to a large room behind the stage with a long table, cushy chairs, an amazing view of the city, and several bottles of liquid (both alcoholic and non) to enjoy to my heart’s content (within reason, they were for sharing among all the staff). Two of the sales guys from my company and our tequila representative were there with me, so after we concluded our work for the night we shared a couple drinks in the staff section. I wandered around the venue for a little while, taking photos of our products and promotions. I had my photo taken again at this event by the cameraman they had hired, and a few other party-goers.

Partygoers at Legato, Shibuya, Tokyo
Behold the mass of humanity that is the late night Halloween party-going crowd in Tokyo.

When the crowds got to be too much for me, I went and hung out on a raised balcony area to the side of the dance floor. The whole section, reserved for staff and VIP only, was guarded by security. I contentedly watched the people dancing to the music the DJs played, going into the staff room for a sit-down or a drink from time to time. Around 1:45 AM I thought it’d be good to know where the bathrooms were and what the lines were like, since I would inevitably have to pee at some point.

Halloween Costume, Tokyo 2012
Very much in character. The flair was historically an integral part of the military’s strict flamboyance compliance measures.

I mashed my way through the now-thick crowd toward where all the signs for “toilet” were pointing. On my way, I ran into a girl I had seen at the entrance and chatted briefly with. She exclaimed “Oh, you’re like, sooo in character!” I assume she must have seen me standing to the side of the dance floor on the balcony level, where my non-dancing, non-smiling, surveying behavior looked out of place. “In character”. Yep. Sure. Nothing to do with my inability to party like a regular human.

I found the bathroom, or rather, the line. The men’s side was short; maybe 2-3 people were waiting. The women’s side? About 30. 30 costume clad women standing there in line. I guessed if I went to the end of the line at that moment I’d have to pee by the time it was my turn to use the facilities. I decided then to call it a night. I found Mr. Company Tequila Representative to say thank you, for without him, I would not have been able to enjoy the evening. I also found and thanked the event organizer, who, coincidentally, I knew due to a chance meeting a year or two ago in a teeny bar in Shibuya. I hopped in a cab home and arrived at my place about 3:00 AM. I slept well and got up the next day to clean house, cook delicious food, and enjoy some good relaxation time.

I’m still genuinely surprised. I do not have a good track record as far as clubs and parties go. Overwhelmingly, the places I’ve been to in the past are sleazy places filled with sleazy people, and I end up drinking more than I should in an effort to stave off the sheer discomfort of the situation. This usually means I abandon (with zero warning) whichever group of people has managed to convince me to come along with them at about 3 AM, at which point I either visit a Yoshinoya or sit on the steps to the train station with my head on my knees, waiting for the morning trains to start.

These events had an entry fee, which I suppose at least helped keep out some unsavory types. Additionally, the events both had no-nonsense security guards and staff keeping things in order. The venues themselves were clean, nice, and great backdrops for a fun time. While yes, I still made my exit early in both cases, I left having actually enjoyed my time going out rather than feeling I’d just escaped from something icky. Since one was a work event, I got the added bonus of having my company reimburse me for my taxi ride home.

I plan to go to more events like these as time, money, and work allows. My recent exposure to the “nice” party scene here has made me re-think my previous decisions regarding going out and having fun. Maybe I’ll meet some fun new people! Maybe you! If you look around the venue at 3 AM and don’t see me, however…don’t bother looking anymore. I’m probably already home in my pajamas, cozied up in my happy place where there’s always a place to sit down and there’s never a line for the toilet.


  1. bruce bruce December 22, 2012

    Great post–very talented writer–I don’t party anymore–kids are in my life now….but I remember taking many taxi rides home from Roppongi at 1am–the smoke usually got to me;the boys toilet never really lines up. I too was home and sleeping at 3am.

    Bruce, Shibuya

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