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Saturday, July 29, 2006

Jumping in Shinjuku


Hip hop is big in Japan, and, as I wrote in a previous blog, its aficionados are everywhere, studying their moves in the reflections of shop windows. There is another tribe of street dancers though that doesn't seem to draw inspiration directly from the States. Japan-born though it may be, it is hard to see what aspect or tradition of life in Japan it springs from.

First, click here to see Japanese girls jumping:

A long-dyed-haired boy, virtually in punk drag, is squalling Japanese lyrics into a portable sound system outside the south exit of Shinjuku station. He is accompanied by a nerd on an acoustic guitar, strumming frenetically. They are supplemented by a circle of madly enthusiastic girls - by no means outlandishly attired, quite the opposite - who jump, that's all, JUMP to the music waving their arms up and down, 'milk-the-cow'-style, in loose sync with each other. As the song hits its final chord they throw their arms centerward and, in a twee little gesture, flick out their fingers altogether.

That's it. The song is over. They stand around for a minute while the boys warm up again, ready for another excited round of jumping up and down and waving their arms in loose sync.

Does it draw its roots from gym class? Is it punk madness given the gloss of Japanese 'kata' (form)? Is it a bit of both? They could be doing the bump, they could be doing hula, they could be doing John Travolta disco-dancing. Why jump?

Hey, why not!?

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