On Sunday went to an all day rope show at a strip club in Kabukicho. Our host at dinner the previous night, F, was performing, and we were excited to see what kind of performances he and the Tokyo rope scene were producing. The acts were varied and interesting, incorporating a wide range of ideas and imagery. F’s performance was visually quite spectacular and we saw a side to his model that I hadn’t anticipated. Whereas at dinner she was confident and bookish looking, on stage she was fragile and willowy – just as beautiful as the night before but in a very different way. Rope seems to have the potential to bring out hidden characteristics in people. I know that I have found myself capable of experiencing and expressing emotions in public that I have previously struggled to show in private. I’m often reminded that ‘movement never lies’.

Other shows that caught my eye included a demanding looking suspension from a long thick piece of bamboo, in which the girl held a rose in her mouth, then her hand, until she couldn’t take any more and dropped it in a moment of exhaustion. This simple gesture was  very effective, and I felt a mixture of sadness and relief watching her.

I was surprised that I enjoyed a comedy style performance by three men who suspended themselves. I guessed from the audience’s reaction that they were referencing a famous Japanese film, and I laughed so hard my cheeks hurt – they were so funny!

All together we saw about ten performances, all quite different, and this gave me a basic overall idea of the rope performance scene in Tokyo. I felt a real sense of community – we were so far from home and yet there was something achingly familiar about the day. I was reminded of Bound, an event that I enjoy in London once a month, and I felt grateful that I have access to these performances close to home.

At the performances we saw a western looking girl with blonde curly hair, and when I heard her speak she sounded English. She looked familiar, but the club was hot and crowded, and I was too shy to approach her, although we exchanged smiles.

The next day we had classes in the afternoon, and afterwards we went to Indigo again – the same club we had been to the previous Monday. Rigger tied me, and I was aware of the evolution of his style of tying. The bar was much busier than the week before, and although he tied planning to suspend, we couldn’t find the space to fly. It didn’t matter, the rope was great – smooth and confident, controlling and reassuring. I loved the way it felt, and didn’t care about the technicalities of the pattern. Although it’s made for a specific purpose, I like the TK as a standalone tie. It’s fairly standardised, and I like the way it’s familiarity switches off my mind to the technical aspect of rope. Knowing what’s coming next means I can relax and focus on my connection to the person tying more intensely. I feel technicality is best when you’re barely aware of it.

Rigger untied me and we returned to our seats. We were sitting next to the attractive blonde we’d spotted at the show the day before, and after introducing ourselves we discovered that we’d met at a party in London a year ago. We caught up, comparing notes on how our lives had diverged in all that time and discovered that she now lives in Tokyo. We planned to meet up before we return to London if possible. We also met a pretty and energetic woman called R, who spoke fluent English and Japanese. She was bright and fun and had a wealth of knowledge on the Tokyo rope scene. I hope we can see them both again before we go home.

Rigger and I were dropped off at the studio by Osada Steve, and we fell straight into bed. It’s amazing how quickly our little corner of the studio has felt like home, and I’ll be sad to leave. I want to stay up writing all about Tuesday and today too, but it’s bed time again already.

The days are filling up fast, and our time here will be over before we know it. The culture here is so different, and yet at the same time, so familiar. Tokyo is a big crowded city, and shares so many similarities with London that I already feel like I belong here.

Authors: Jakara

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