What makes a good night out? How do we concoct that proper blend of pheromones simmering in a mix of alchohol and competitive conversation? What comprises the perfect devil-may-care, train-of-thought itinerary that leaves a group feeling out of time and place but infused with a general glow of well-being?
Roppongi offers a full-frontal assault on the partying region of the brain. For the last fifteen years, most of Tokyo’s nightlife zones have dealt with economic recession by crawling out of filth, drudgery, and seediness in order to appeal to a wider public. Roppongi, on the other hand has sunk even deeper. It has become a gutter that filters out and preserves what the others have been trying to wash away.
There are two places on Earth that represent internationality in all its glory. The first is Hawaii, a tiny island chain that has withstood cultural and political iniquity with grace and pressure to become a true mosaic of cultural identities. The second is Roppongi, which represents a sort of Mos Eisley on Earth – a “wretched hive of scum and villany.”
More than 50% of the people here are foriegners; Filipinas/os, Chinese, American, Australian, Brazilian, Scandinavian, British, Africans, Russians, Ukrainians etc. Notably absent: No one. You shouldn’t be surprized to see a passport of any color, genuine or forged, drifting around this district.
More than 75% of the people here are criminals – probably. Better that you assume that, anyways. Police hide out in a tiny box in the central district while Guardian Angels mingle about until duty calls, and every night is a busy one around here.
It is the part of Tokyo that smells the most like raw sex to me; even more that Ginza or Shinjuku -places full of hosts and hostess clubs. Even Shibuya has it’s hill of alleys where seedy types get lost to fill their seedier desires, but Roppongi is the place to go to get the kind of companionship that you don’t pay for – or even remeber. And everyone knows it.
It seems like you need a fetish to really blend in. A fetish for Asians, for blacks, for military types, for youth, for affluence, for violence. It is a department store of vice.
I exaggerate, but only because I am sure that what I see as an occasional patron barely scratches the surface of the tip of the iceberg. Those in the know would probably say I was being a little naive – painting a Disney picture of the real depravity that goes on underneath the urine-scented and vomit-caked streets.
But, believe it or not, this was the place that three of us decided to celebrate the opening of the world cup with an all-night party-on-the-town. The first obstacle was that we were originally supposed to be more than 8, but one cancelled, and we ended up playing cell-phone bingo with the other half of our group all night.
Our playground of choice whas the monstrous club Velfarre (formerly the largest club in Asia) that, unfortunately, had scheduled a major progrmming break in its trance lineup between 25:00 and 29:00, leaving us sans-buzz for the most critical part of the evening. Intestinal troubles started up for two of us at about the same time which made our observational sociology of the neigborhood a little more hurried than normal.
We ended up at an organic cafe (that really spells failure in Roppongi – ending up at an organic cafe from 28:00 to 28:30 waiting for the Argentinian football match to start in the Brazilian club down the road) nursing our appetites and our sphincters with frequent trips to the restroom.
Our night out ended standing next to the bar watching half of Argentina’s 2-1 victory over Cote d’Ivoire. The Political Scientist rooted for the Coast, me for the Ivory. All of us were rooting for the 5:09 train to rescue our limp, fading night and to carry us all home to bed.
What is it that makes for a perfect night out? Well, you know it when you’ve got it, but by morning you’ve forgotten what it was.
A night like last Saturday? It wasn’t madness by any means, but on the other hand, I remeber all 8 hours out with friends in exquisite detail – just another type of perfect night out, I guess.