Category Archive for Nightcrawling
Ohohoho! You’ve landed in Tokyo Decadance Bar — one of the favorite hangouts of Tokyo’s alternative, Goth and Cyber club kids. If you’re visiting the city, you must stop here for the absinthe and strange performances.
Enjoy photos from my previous two trips to “Decabar,” featuring the infamous Preta Porco in his signature yellow face paint.
Address of Tokyo Decabar: 東京都新宿区新宿5-17-13 or 5-17-13 Shinjuku, Oriental Wave Building 8F/9F
Directions: From Shinjuku East Exit, walk towards Studio Alta and Don Quixote. Take a right on this main street (Yasakuni Dori) and keep walking. Christon Cafe is on the left side of the street, right above the Lawson and before the parking lot buildings. Ride the elevator up to the 8th floor (Christon Cafe theme restaurant) and walk up the stairs to Decadance Bar.
The club space is small but laid back, and decorated in neon paint. The fashion is consistently fabulous, as Yukiro Dravarious, in one of his many guises, demonstrates. (He’s performing April 27 at Tokyo Pride; keep reading for details!)
On “Porco Night,” the spotlight shines on yellow-faced bartender Preta Porco. Mistress Maya also holds a regular “Snack Mayaya” event, where she helms a snack bar and does rope-tyling demonstrations.
On any given night, I’ll run into friends here. On the left, you may recognize Sophia, an impressive vocalist who recently debuted her solo project, “Season of Ghosts.”
Owner Adrien Le Danois (in the blue hair) welcomes guests to his lair. You’ll see lots of cosplay girls and colorful street style on the dance floor. Many of the people who come here speak English and French, so you’ll be able to strike up conversations even if you don’t know Japanese.
Porco’s scintillating smile will immediately put you in the mood to party. (My hair is pink because these photos are from last spring.)
The drinks flow… and the shenanigans begin. I always order the absinthe at Decadance Bar.
The space is decorated like a Day Glo carnival, and the staff dresses the part in wigs and glitter.
Between DJ sets, underground performers strut their stuff. Everyone smiled at this 1980s dance routine, peppered with pole-dancing.
Porco squealed and twirled on a pole. I have no words.
On any given evening, you’ll encounter a theme event or bizarre performance. (Photography by Naomi – check out her latest illustrations!)
If it’s your birthday, beware: the drag queens sit on you and chant the “nonde nonde” drinking song.
The special DJs played a bouncing, techno-electric mix. You can tell that everyone was having fun.
I returned to Tokyo Decadance Bar last December. It was “Sex Pot Night,” meaning there were events both in the upstairs bar and downstairs restaurant (Christon Cafe).
Similar to Alamode Market, there were handmade Gothic Lolita accessories for sale at tables.
A striking back tattoo with hearts and wings, on this barely clad Japanese lady.
As you know from my Theme Restaurants book, Christon is bizarrely decorated with church relics, like chandeliers and altars.
This makes it a haunting (and slightly kitschy) atmosphere for a Goth alternative party. The big Tokyo Decadance parties, which take place every 1-2 months, are usually held at Christon Shinjuku.
That night, the area near the lower staircase was filled with tables. Vendors sold oddities like scorpions preserved in jars.
It’s a great place to pick up one of a kind Gothic accessories like these hand-studded chokers.
Or get a glitter tattoo, from a not-so-Barbie girl.
If you get tired of shopping, then there’s plenty of singing, dancing, performances and other entertainment in the room.
I saw a slightly incongruous performance by a group of women dressed as mistresses, in tight leather corsets and riding sticks.
Yet they sang Jpop and anime songs, with giddy choreography. The men in the back seemed to be having a good time.
“Kampai” or cheers!
Much like the club night Department H, this is a place for you to be whoever or whatever you wish, without judgement.
The grotesque doll on the wall is indication that anything goes.
Makeup on men is the norm rather than the exception.
Goth fashion looks especially bloody under red lights.
My current blue hair matches these girls on the wall.
For once, Yukiro isn’t the tallest person in the room… thanks to little help from stilts!
Mistress Maya (who is also DJ Maya at her event Midnight Mess) tied up an innocent victim.
The girl got a spanking and hot candle wax on her back, among other things that we can’t post on this blog… You’ll have to use your imagination, or come to Decabar to see for yourself.
For more photos from Tokyo Decadence and other Goth / Cyber / LGBT nightlife, take a look at my Japan clubbing guide.
PS: Yukiro is performing his spooky drag queen act, Die Schwarze Frau, on April 27th at Tokyo Pride Parade! For info on how to see him in action, check out his Facebook page. You’ll be entertained and frightened for sure.
Have you ever tried pole dancing? Would you visit a club like this?
Shh. Even though I live for exploring new countries (Israel and Jordan right now!), it’s no secret that I miss Tokyo whenever I’m away.
I was in Japan around Christmas-time, which gave me an opportunity to take photos with light displays. Enjoy these street shots of Shinjuku after dark.
In Tokyo, I’m one of the tallest people around…
Hello Kitty and friends sweater: from last year’s Forever 21 x Sanrio collaboration
Short plaid purple skirt: Peace Now, from Closet Child
Blue fuzzy animal purse: Mercibeaucoup, bought at Shinjuku Marui Annex
Art Nouveau print tights: Innocent World x Alphonse Mucha
First Mate fixer Naomi took these cool purple effect photos by shooting between the escalator rail. Using a prime lens on a DSLR, you can achieve nifty effects like this.
The background blurs out, and the little Xmas bulbs turn into “bokeh”, or glowing balls of light.
This little hallway of lights is located by the West Exit of Shinjuku Station (near My Lord department store). There’s an Anna Sui store and a Ne-Net boutique in this area.
I rode the escalator at least three times for the sake of taking outfit photos!
In the center, there were three trees covered in lights. Naomi shot through glass for this reflected image.
Lost in a Japanese winter wonderland.
Since I know you enjoy seeing Tokyo city life, I went on a long stroll through Shinjuku with my camera, and captured the night-time action. Here, a traffic guard in a helmet whistles and waves his… light saber?
A man in a cap is silhouetted in front of a drink vending machine. In busy areas like Shinjuku, there are literally vending machines every few meters.
My favorite drink is not usually found in machines, but at convenience stores like 7-Eleven. It’s yuzu, of course (the Japanese tangy citrus). This little “pet” bottle is hot, sold near the check-out counter.
Near the entrance of Shinjuku Station East Exit, a ska band gave a free performance. The lead saxophonist twirled and jumped around. This concert was actually part of a vitamin brand promotion, perhaps explaining their manic energy.
An anime-cyborg girl overlooks the business commuters.
Shinjuku is filled with little narrow streets, lit up with neon signs. Many of these advertise restaurants and bars.
Flashing billboards with anime characters are a common sight.
The eye-catching designs are so varied. A Japanese-style tiger leaps at a butterfly.
Shinjuku Doori is one of the main streets, and leads to the various 0101 department stores. (For a peek at the street style boutiques found inside, see my post about Marui Annex.)
How have you be dressing up this winter? Would you wear a Sanrio sweater like this?
Close-up on my Chococat sleeve. He’s one of my favorite characters.
Naomi holds up a Jrock / Visual Kei flyer, to demonstrate how we “pull focus” with the camera lens. By focusing on something in the foreground, the background blurs out with this cool dotted effect.
I leave you with a Japanese girl buying a drink from a vending machine.
Are you enjoying these mood photos? Do you take late-night city walks like I do?
My Pirates TV production company has been doing well lately, so it was nigh time to celebrate with rum and wenches!
Naomi, Yukiro and I threw a “Corporate Goth Meeting” — our clever way of hosting a drinking party in a central, inexpensive Tokyo space. Read on for the shenanigans, and tips on how you can plan an alternative event like ours.
After wrapping our latest Tokyo TV job, we wanted to host a get-together for our “spooky friends.” But how to throw an epic Goth party at minimal cost?
In Tokyo, this is a special dilemma. People live in small apartments far away, so we couldn’t have an event at someone’s house. We didn’t want to join an existing club night, or meet at a restaurant or bar (too noisy and expensive, and not good for mingling). Renting a private club space would also be much too costly.
The sneaky and slightly subversive solution… We rented a hotel boardroom for three hours, and held a “work meeting!”
In Shinjuku, you can rent business meeting rooms for under $50 an hour. They’re large enough to hold 20-30 “staff members”, and the location is convenient for everyone.
The hotel didn’t question our motives behind the “Corporate Goth Meeting.” But once the doors closed, the work gathering… turned into a drag queen drinking fest.
Our friends (aka employees) showed up in “Business Casual Gothic work clothes” to fit the theme (aka ruse). We did end up discussing important matters, as you can see on the white board.
Everyone brought a little something to eat or drink. This Barbados “Mount Gay” rum was the hit of the evening.
How sweet that many of my “pirates” brought me yuzu (the tangy Japanese citrus), since they know it’s my favorite fruit flavor.
I’m wearing a Nightmare Before Christmas sweater from Rolick, a women’s boutique in Shinjuku Lumine. I’m not a big fan of the current winter collections in Japan, as the materials tend to be scratchy and the designs uninspired. However, I love the Jack Skellington print in this collaboration.
My fuzzy boots are by Liz Lisa.
There are perks to being Captain of the Pirate Ship. You can engage in a little “harassment” here and there…
Everyone got into the theme of the party. It looks like we’re having an animated panel discussion.
In fact, we are a business: La Carmina and the Pirates does Japan TV fixing, local production arranging, translation, on-camera hosting, consulting and more. We’ve worked with Food Network, Travel Channel, Discovery, National Geographic and other networks.
Three shining examples of how to dress Work Goth. It’s possible to abide by an office dress code, while keeping a dark, alt aesthetic.
Yukiro appears to be delivering a corporate takeover speech.
Kanae raises an objection, Phoenix Wright style. (In fact, our friends do work with us — they’re always willing to lend a hand with projects, and appear on our TV shows.)
Naomi brought portable speakers, and played Gothic MIDI tunes. The boardroom space was perfect: everyone could mingle freely, and chat without being drowned out by music.
We even had a nice view of Kabukicho. The only problem with the room… was that Seby thought the lights were too bright!
Maybe we need to upgrade our employees’ cell phones. (This is Yukiro’s ancient iPhone 3.)
Thankfully, none of the people at the hotel disturbed our meeting. If they walked in unexpectedly, I think they would be very confused.
We munched on Caro’s haunted gingerbread, made by hand.
The cookies go well with mocha and vodka, apparently.
Naomi does a presentation about capital gains and losses. Or something like that.
There’s always a lady in the office who gets a bit scandalous after a few drinks..
At our events, someone always ends up being tortured (in this case, stomped on).
The motto of the evening: “Be there or be fired!”
We gave out an Employee of the Month award to David, who was also celebrating his birthday.
In addition to the bloody delicious cake, you can see how much there was to imbibe.
Yukiro and Remiko show how eating should be done.
And this t-shirt says it all. What do you think of our out-of-the-box idea for renting a cheap and central event space? I think we’ve created an alternative to alternative parties!
Cheers to my Japan Pirate crew. My ship would have run aground long ago, without you crazy kids.
Would you throw a “business meeting” like ours? Do you dress Corporate Gothic when you go to work?
ARR you ready for XXX-mas yet?
While in Portland, my film team and I went all around town, shooting segments about the kooky subcultures here. We ducked into a Pirate Day-Glo golf course, Steampunk boutique…
… and wound up at a Nightmare Before Xmas musical, with live actors and a nine-piece orchestra! Read on for the spook-tacular story.
Let’s begin with Captain Carmina and her band of pirates. These Portlanders are part of PDX Yar, the crew responsible for pirate-themed karaoke, balls and other scurvy deeds. First mate Naomi described their shenanigans in this post.
Pirate lace hat: gifted by Lip Service, similar to this pirate hat
Pirate jacket and skirt: gifted by Wheels & Dollbaby
Black laser-cut boots: Yosuke Tokyo
We met at Glowing Greens, a blacklight indoor mini-golf course with a pirate theme. (509 SW Taylor St, Portland, OR) Every square inch is lit up in neon, and decorated with piratical elements like sea monsters.
I’ve never seen a miniature golf course as crazy as this one. The themed holes included a graveyard, a mansion with a shaking gate, a pop-up zombie.
The acid-trip environment inspired filmmaker Melissa. On the spot, she dreamt up a pirate adventure tale, and we acted it out on camera. Can’t wait to show you this funny footage.
If ye be in a piratical mood, and twitching for a round of golf… ye know where to sail!
I was excited to shoot travel footage at Wells & Verne, a neo-Victorian shoppe inspired by Goth, Industrial and Steampunk culture. (Located in the Sellwood district at 8315 SE 13th Ave, Portland, OR)
As soon as you walk in, you’ll see this magnificent Art Nouveau steampunk gal on the wall. (It reminded me of the Alphonse Mucha art exhibit in Tokyo.)
This newly-opened boutique carries handmade goods from “our local Portland family,” as well as artisans from all over the world. The display case had these brass goggles, a steampunk must…
… and a hand-crafted laser gun. (Photography by Melissa Rundle, Eric Bergemann, Naomi Rubin and La Carmina.)
At Wells & Verne, clothes are works of art. Great care went into the making of this leather mask and holster.
Many items, such as velvet three piece suits, are tailor made to order. This is the place to find something elegant and one-of-a-kind.
I fell in love with this steampunk Victorian dress, goggles necklace and mini top hat.
How cute are the vampire cat bat scarves? I hope you’ll drop by to see my new friends at Wells & Verne in Portland. They often hold special events, which you can see via their Facebook page.
Darkness fell, as we drove to Secret Society for “The Nitemare B4 Xmas,” a live-action musical tribute to Tim Burton’s cult film.
The Mayor invited us to their final show. Audience members are encouraged to sing along as his nine-piece troupe, The Saloon Ensemble, performed every song in the movie.
We arrived early to witness the preparations. The actors and musicians transformed into the Nightmare Before Christmas characters, with the help of deft makeup skills and costumes.
The set design was spot-on, incorporating the movie’s signature swirls and tombstones. On the left side, there was a normal Christmas tree. On the right… a scary X-mas one.
This show received lots of positive buzz, and was sold out that night. Quite a few of the ticket-holders wore Day of the Dead makeup, since it was November 1st. My film team and I ordered popcorn and Dark & Stormy cocktails (rum and ginger beer), and practiced singing “This is Halloween.”
Each performance featured a different opening act. We clapped along to the Love Bomb Marching Skeletons, a go-go group of scantily clad, skull-faced musicians and dancers. They got us revved up and ready for the headlining musical.
What a treat for fans of Nightmare Before Christmas: the band played the songs, sang, and did hilarious character voices. Meanwhile, Jack and Sally tottered on stilts and acted out their parts to perfection.
I was smiling throughout the entire 60 minute show. To mix up the action, there were sing-a-long segments and contests. Everyone cheered for Zero the dog, a puppet manipulated by this ghostly lady.
Oogie Boogie’s wacky dance was picture perfect. Amazing, how the actors captured the movements and expressions of the animated characters.
Several guests went on stage for a screaming contest, including filmmaker Melissa. It was a lock. She had by far the loudest, longest and shrillest scream!
What a delight to “make Christmas time” with The Saloon Ensemble and friends. They plan to do more musical shows based on films, so stay tuned to their website. And if you haven’t watched Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Xmas film yet… what are you waiting for?
On a scale of 1 to 10, how much do you like this spooky musical? Would you visit the Portland Pirate golf course, or Victorian steampunk shop?