Wednesday 11 May 2016

The Season So Far...

My little girl is seven months old now, and what a seven months it's been! But nobody wants to hear about baby stuff when there's Awa business to talk about!

Our main festival events don't begin for another couple of months yet, but despite this we've already had five performances this season (November to October), some more unusual than others. To recap briefly:

December 26th: Jun Yanagi's Year End Dinner Show
One square meter each.
Not sure how well known she is, as I don't follow Enka circles, but a high class function suite in a well known Nakano hotel overlooking the city was packed out, so I would say well known enough. It was so packed out, that our stage area was literally two square meters. Just as well we came light, with just two representatives from each dance part.

February 7th: Volunteer performance at Hatagaya Social Centre
Taken behind the scenes, for everybody's safety.
This is a facility we perform at more or less anually. The audience is a large group of mentally handicapped young adults, some of whom enjoy sitting around, watching the performance, not jumping up and charging as quickly as they can in random directions without warning; others less so. The staff are very efficient, and can always be relied upon to grapple the more mobile guests to the ground at a moment's notice, before they end up flying straight out of a window, or getting their head stuck in a drum. As such, there is no need for us to worry about any of these things as we perform, despite the looming prospect that this time, it might be different. Overall a thoroughly enjoyable time for everyone involved!

March 27th: Wedding reception performance
Not pictured: Me. Anywhere.
At a bowling alley. Really. Our stage was the area between the lanes and where the balls are returned, that bowlers use for runups. It's worth noting that the wedding was between two of our members, and one of them takes bowling very seriously. Unfortunately, I could not be present for this particular performance as my wife wanted to go, and taking little'un wasn't an option for reasons I could never quite confirm.

April 9th: Volunteer performance at Higashi Kenko Plaza
Jumping and shouting!
This is another facility we perform at maybe once every two years. The second time I performed there, I was bitten by an old lady. I was lucky to get out alive! This time was much more fun, with a very chatty MC who made sure they got a whole hour out of us in a very very hot room. Nobody tried to eat me though, so I would call it an overwhelming success.

May 6th: Miss Supranational Japan 2016 Finals Opening Act
Shakey-cam footage also available.
Probably our most prestigious performance todate. This invitation was something of a mixed blessing as it was a good hour north of Tokyo on what was technically a week day, which made getting the members together quite hard. We also had to adapt our choreography to allow the finalists to perform along with us for a spell. On the plus side, we got to rehearse on the actual stage, which allowed us to block the formation properly so we weren't all over the place, as often happens when 20 or 30 odd people with no sense of direction try to coordinate their actions. On the minus again, the concert hall seated 2,500 people which was the cause of some considerable stress for certain members who weren't used to performing in front of an audience that size—this was not a problem for me, because I've long since mastered the art of pretending like a mistake was deliberate, and was confident nobody was going to be in the audience shouting "Hey, look! The white guy is the only one that's doing it wrong!" (He only heckles at Kabuki these days, and seems to fit right in there.) As it turned out though, the hall was far from capacity. That said, the event was also live streamed to well over half a million people worldwide, a fact that—thankfully for those feeling under pressure—was not revealed to us until after we'd finished. All in all a fun event to be a part of.
Miss Supranational Japan Facebook Page
In other news, we've had an influx of new members this year, especially in my section. Four people starting from scratch (or near enough) that have needed to be trained, with the threat of yet more looming, plus one very experienced member who puts the rest of us to shame—and about time too. On Sunday 8th, I held a workshop for the new members so they can experience first hand just how strict I am about the correct ways to put on a costume. Some even took notes. It brought a tear to my eye.

All in all, a very busy season so far, with plenty more to come this summer! Look forward to seeing you all at Kyōdō in July!