I’m a little drowsy and I didn’t take notes on Friday. I suspect if I checked the schedule I would learn that we had two long periods of waiting and that I have compressed them into one for simplicity in writing and remembering. Suffice to say that there was a great deal of waiting going on in the cold, cold, Gaijin ghetto. I think the total time spent waiting was 3-4 hours.
We half-assed changed into our warmer street clothing, but most of us had the costume bras underneath our sweaters, which caused our breasts to look as if they were besieged with odd lumps and boils. My made-up face did not match my street clothing, but neither did it match my costume, so it wasn’t a new sensation.
I knit for a while, looked through a magazine I had brought, and sent Wataguy some self portraits taken with my cell phone.
Bug: “I’m not really getting the full effect of the veil no matter how I angle the phone.”
#4: “You mean the whole help! My head is being attacked by a giant doily effect?”
Bug: ”Yup, that’s the one.”
There were cold lunches for us, but nothing I could eat and nothing #4 ( not a vegetarian, simply picky) would eat. I drank down a squeeze bag of jelled food and some calorie-mate sticks while others ate a very sickly looking box of meat. The meat eaters were more disgusted with my space-age convini food than I by theirs.
We were so bored that we touched up our make-up, despite knowing that it would never been seen. We talked to Circus girl about the Circus. She’s mainly a stilt-walker, but her favorite work involves hanging from large rings. She showed us a promo of the private circus she works with, sort of a simple but cool Circ d’ Solie feeling to it all. She started later in life and was not born into a circus family nor is she an Olympic level gymnast, so she’ll never be part of the big big-top circus scene…These are things I found I had never really thought about. Circus girl is in some pretty hard-core good shape…but she’s also crazy.
The big Gaijin were talking men stuff…and we listened to them for a while. After a while Claudia and I joined them. One large, black, Californian was the real talker…with more stories of being stalked and followed by gay Japanese men than I had ever thought possible. Claudia and I can walk the streets unhindered but this poor, huge, man has people who want to touch his body at almost all times…he made Japan sound like an Extasy-laced night on Fire Island.
Circus girl joined us. She had decided to braid her hair in tiny little braids for an upcoming circus gig and for a while a strange fantasy scene of half dressed girls involved in slumber party hair play unfolded before the men. Then the men started sharing tales of the weird from the pages of their Men’s Giant Body Fitness mags. This is when we learned that Circus girl believes that America is giving free breast implants to women who allow a computerized tracking chip to be inserted at the same time. I’m another American who doesn’t always trust her own government, but I think my government far more mundane when it comes to nasty privacy violation.
As she and the men continued along this stream of discussion Claudia and I snuck back to hang out with #4 who had finished sending text messages to her boyfriend and was reviewing the music for her restaurant gig in the evening. Of the eight gaijin gather ed together, we were the 3 without agents/ and agency.
Yeah, we bonded. I moved to Japan and became better at bonding with my own gender. Yay, me! Part of bonding required finding out exactly how we had all come to the one thing we knew we had in common, belly dancing. Claudia had lived with another dancer and, after seeing her dance and bring great joy to a party, had started taking private lessons so that she could perform for her brother’s wedding party. Me, I was in Japan with lots of free-time, no desire to be the confused gaijin in an aerobics class ( yeah, used to do aerobics…) and a general enjoyment of dance…I knew it would either be flamenco or belly dance but could not give you a clear reason why…#4 was in a similar situation but far more surreal.
I first took lessons with Mishaal, a very well-known and professional teacher around these parts, which I dropped due to some life-turmoil. In a few more years I found my current, highly-eccentric, teacher through her free workshops advertised in a Tokyo weekly magazine. #4 had wanted to take some sort of dance, but was never available for the free workshops, so she bought 4 private lessons and soon landed in our teacher’s apartment (in her early days of teaching) with 3 other girls. It turns out my teacher used to be even more, um, unusual, and sometimes insisted on hissing around the room, writhing and proclaiming that she was a snake and trying to get the others to follow. #4 wanted to leave but was too polite to run from the apartment. One’s first few months in Japan involve many bizarre scenes in which you just find your mind separating from your body and asking, from above, how the fuck did I get here? This was one of those moments. Somehow, in four lessons, the joy of the dance was greater than the fear of being in a small space with what was obviously a seriously unhinged teacher. Prior to her current tour of duty, #4 has returned to her home country of Canada a few times and has taught dance there.
We enjoyed various teacher related stories…we needed to in order to recover from the precarious situation we’d been put in. We do love her, but she is a goddamned crack-pot and we can only wonder what bizarre transformation her latest journey will trigger.
#4 also shared her evening of TBS related nightmares, which included showing up and being given small, spandex, “booty-shorts.” She must have been psychic, I told her…but a little off. We would not be wearing spandex booty-shorts…the men next store, with the golden Anubus heads, would be. Yes, black spandex shorts with fake, gold, gladiator skirts…I am so writing the art school from which I received my degree, everything I learned about Egyptian imagery during first year art history was a LIE! Where were the gladiators, the green laser beams, the red polyester dancers, the spandex asses, the sequined Idols within those heavy art history texts I used to lug around….hell, where were all the white girls?
Ochi came for the men first. We did not behave well when the men marched by us. Then we changed into our full costumes…and waited. Circus girl took pictures…we looked very sultry and shit…one only hopes she emails them. We talked about the bras in great detail.
Occasionally, while we waited, young Japanese children would run up, look at us, and run away. I think I made a mother blush when I asked her child, in good Japanese, to please not ogle the gaijin. A few older women also approached me. The good thing about the few people who assume I do not speak Japanese is that they often inadvertently entertain me with a strange language of hand gestures and noises. One old woman thought I looked right sexy and kept grabbing at her own chest and hips to illustrate her point while making noises intended to convey the concept of large, sexy, and/or swelling. After the long wait and the obscenely grunting and miming lady, I was no longer feeling self conscious about my bare belly undulating around on TBS Japan. I had been assimilated in a scene stranger than I had imagined.