Sunday, November 9, 2008

Chicks Can Rock + Party All Night Installment No. 2

Do you remember my entry last weekend? Give the Japanese a few drinks and they will party till dawn. I'm proud to say that tonight I beat last week's record. It's 6AM and I just returned to my flat. I'm going to sleep but I'll try finishing this post tomorrow...

Like last Friday, the night began at Diglight, the smokey bar near Waseda University. The harpist from the Tokyo Symphony left two tickets for me with the bartender, so I popped by to pick them up and have a quick drink. I was planning on heading out soon to meet some friends. Instead, I got hooked by a fantastic blues and rockabilly band that was playing the Friday night slot.

Who ever said women can't rock? The lead singer/guitarist was a 60 year old woman, probably old enough to be an Obaasan (Grandma), but she could sing and play with the warm soulful tone of BB King. Minus poor pronunciation, her renditions of classic rock 'n' roll and blues tunes were making me quite nostalgic.
You have to know the blues to know what I'm talking about but this woman definitely had it in her. She would even get the intimate crowd fired up during her guitar solos by walking into the audience while handling her axe.

Both her and her lead guitarist played lesser expensive versions of the Gibson ES-335, a guitar with an oversized violin shape made famous by Chuck Berry in the 50's. The instrument has two hollow acoustic chambers and strong pickups, giving it a very high output. Played well, the guitar sounds warm and thick. While watching the pair on stage, I found myself daydreaming about buying my own.

And speaking of women who rock, the drummer was a middle-aged woman who had a steady groove and powerful style. I guess it was a night where stereotypes decided to fly out the window. While many blues singers are female, instrumentalists are a male dominated breed. Indeed, the music itself is perceived as being masculine. My hat goes off to these ladies for deciding to teach the boys a thing or two.

Towards the end of the show, I got a call from a Yale alum inviting me out to
Azabu-juuban to meet some of her friends. When I got to the bar, there were 9 or 10 people around a table drinking wine and beer. Most were Japanese so I was geared up for some language practice.

I didn't know it at first, but most of the people at the table were educated at international schools and foreign universities and spoke flawless English. I've had this experience many times before. I meet Japanese people and slip into Japanese mode. I try my best to force my way through a conversation until I fumble on my words. Then, surprisingly, the Japanese person I'm talking to busts out their flawless English often without accent. Then I feel like a fool for assuming they didn't know English in the first place. Or perhaps they were hiding it.

Having a group with facility in two languages made for an interesting night to say the least. All of these folks grew up expressing themselves in English and Japanese and would slip between both languages completely naturally. To tell the truth, how much of each language was used is hazy in my memory. I was doing my best to follow along and chime in with the language that was intuitive for the topic at play. Drinks and laughs were shared, business cards were traded, and everyone was most definitely enjoying their Friday evening.

Azabu-juuban is wicked far from Ikebukuro. My last train was at 12:30 but I was having way too good of a time to worry about such trivialities. As the night went on, little by little, our company began to filter out. Even my Yale friends took off sometime after midnight. By 2AM, there were six o us left, two girls and four guys; or put more appropriately, one American and five Japanese. One of the girls who was close with my Yale friends was admirably headstrong if not a little bit scatterbrained while under the influence. She somewhat obnoxiously yet perfectly acceptably invited us all over to one of the guys' flats which was right around the corner. I learned later that the two had never met before. I still find our illegitimate invitation to party quite amusing.

So we packed our things, picked up some snacks at a convenience store, and strolled over to this fellow's apartment. We huddled around the space too small for 6 people, goofed off, had a few drinks, and played Nintendo Wii until 5AM when we all split for the morning trains.

Before getting back to my flat at 6AM, I called my folks and left a message "Hey everyone, it's Ethan. Love you and miss you lots, but there is no place in the world I'd rather be but here."

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