People in Japan Can’t Dance

…not unless they want to risk getting cuffed and kicked out of the club.

Technically, it’s been illegal to dance in clubs or bars after a certain hour since 1984, but that law’s never really been enforced until the last few years.



The picture above is an excerpt from an interview with Daisha Hunter, founder of ENTokyo. You can read the rest in the October issue of tsuki magazine.

Daisha works with clubs in Tokyo to put on artist showcases, CD release parties and so on, and she had a lot to say about this law, it’s discriminatory nature and the negative effect it has on the entertainment industry.

Everyone from DJs, to club owners to promoters, [face the risk] of having their events raided, being arrested…I heard ballroom dancing is now separated from the entertainment law, because they look at ballroom dancing like its…I was told it’s morally good for Japanese people to ballroom dance. And I was like well how can you say that and yet hip-hop dancing is under this law, salsa dancing…

I haven’t run into this law myself, but I’ve heard from friends who have seen the “no dancing” signs on the walls in clubs, or felt that polite shoulder tap and heard sumimasen if their rhythmic swaying to the music started to become just a bit too organized.

Now, I already had an inkling as to the purpose of this law, especially after hearing only certain kinds of dancing we’re restricted, but I decided to use it as the topic for one of my group lessons, to hear what the youth of Japan thought — about clubs, about dancing and about this law. One of my students was pretty candid and simply said dancers, especially hip hop dancers, we’re considered “bad boys” in Japanese culture, (he had no comment on female dancers).

So reading between the lines, obviously the law has nothing to do with the actual dancing, but rather the type of people who would be most likely to bust a move. There’s nothing wrong with trying to crack down on crime, but because some stuffy old men with side parts and comb-overs decided dancers were the trouble makers, but couldn’t quite get away with shutting down clubs out right (think of all the money that would be lost!) they decided to use this blanket law. Now you can’t even shake your tail feather at a concert out here without looking over your shoulder.  I can only guess this is a move to discourage the riff-raff, with their baggy jeans and over-sized shirts (clearly meant to hide their weapons), or their tight muscle shirts, (clearly meant to show off their biceps and seduce innocent Japanese women) from going out at night.

 You can read more about it here

Sigh, the whole thing makes Japan seem more…ominous to me, like the government is this shadowy, giant foot constantly dangling above our heads, ready to drop down and squish any time they want.

What do you think, is there any merit to this law?

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8 Responses to People in Japan Can’t Dance

  1. Dorimi says:

    I think its very strange law, but it’s Japan – completely different culture.

  2. kanadajin3 says:

    Wait.. What?

    Is this bs?

    Theres PLENTY of clubs in Tokyo that I have been to, everyone dances.

    If anything, my impresion is that Japanese people are the most insane, energetic, lively dancers I have ever seen.

    All my Japanese friends who went to Toronto, Canada, always complained to me about how SHIT the clubs were, and how everyone is just there to do drugs and nobody is happy looking and many rude people. I couldn’t belive their words, because I though Toronto clubs were awsome.

    Till I went to Tokyo clubs.

    This is the first time I am hearing its illigal to dance and that people don’t dance…because I watch people dance every Friday, Saturday AND Sunday night, for the last 7 months in a row.

    I am so confused at this whole post.

    • Amanda says:

      Well, I didn’t say people DON’T dance, but it is technically illegal to do so after a certain time at night. Google it if you don’t believe me. The law hasn’t really been enforced in the past, but lately there has been a trend where there has been more of a crack down. It tends to happen at smaller clubs more than the bigger ones I hear.

  3. C Ohara says:

    I don’t get the law at all~ I went dancing in the city last year and encountered it first hand. So freaking weird. Although what you wrote here makes sense to me. Maybe it is the association people in Japan assume dancing as with delinquency. Same as tattoos or sunglasses. There ain’t nothing wrong with them, but there’s the association here in Japan.

    Still…….I think it sucks… :(

    btw, I’m really interested in the stuff you write on your blog here! Do you mind leaving a comment on my blog? It helps me keep track of who I like to follow. Thanks!

  4. NyNy says:

    What? There are no dancing signs in clubs? O_O …I have no clue what to say to that.

    By the way, I have my own blog which focuses on Asian culture and entertainment such as video games and I wonder if it is possible for you to view it and tell me what you think about my blog:

  5. Sam says:

    haha, and they actually just can’t dance. I work in a bar in Yokohama and the dancing that goes on on my dancefloor is just horrific. They all stand watching themselves in the mirror doing their own weird moves like some boyband recruited from an insane asylum. Obviously Japan has one of the strongest Bboy scene’s in the world, but just on a general level, what I see everyday, is completely ridiculous.

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