When I got to the karaoke place, I was actually ahead of schedule for the rest of the crew. They were all still trying to gather up and throw things away from the hanami party. It was getting dark and cold, so no way could they stay out there. The idea was to head to a cheap af karaoke place across from Shinjuku City Hall.
Since I ended up arriving so early, I decided to take a long walk for a few blocks. I’m going on a bit of a weight loss journey and so I’ve started walking more. I started down the main street, where I saw Louie Vitton and a whole bunch of super expensive designer clothes shops.
A gaggle of Korean ladies exited from one place with big smiles and chatting before calling a taxi for all of them and their bags. I figured they might’ve been models or higher income bracket of some kind people, because your normal tourists generally never get taxis. They’re just so expensive here. Case in point, a couple of Chinese tourists passed by with a guide book and bickering between the two of them (probably about which way to go, probably married because it’s an older gentlemen and lady). They could’ve gotten a taxi to get to their destination, but opted to walk.
Shinjuku is a melting pot, both in terms of tourists and actual residents. I knew people in the area who lived in Japan for over ten or fifteen years. The majority were from Southeast Asian countries, but there were the odd American or Canadian in the mix. As I walked, I wondered if I was going to end up here in two years. A lot of my friends loved Shinjuku, especially Ni-chome the Gay District.
As I was on my way back to the karaoke box, I turned right to the Shinjuku Shrine. I didn’t do the New Year’s tradition of visiting a shrine and getting my fortune read. I figured now was as good a time as any. I purified my hands at the entrance and walked over to the omikuji box. For 100 yen I discovered this year I might have a little luck, but not really in a lot of areas. I decided to wrap the fortune around a tree and try again some other time. I’m not overly religious or superstitious; I believe in making my own luck. Still, can’t hurt to pray and try, right?
By the time I walked into the karaoke box lobby, my people were there, all nine or ten of us. They all shouted in surprise to see me because I’d told them I’d been sick on the Facebook event.
My good friend Mr. D hugged me and said, “Yeah, when L____ told us you were coming, M______ and I both figured, ‘She’s probably bored!'”
I laughed and nodded. “You are correct! I hated the idea of just being sick and lonely. I didn’t wanna miss out on congratulating L______ for getting a job!”
L______ originally made this event because he thought he might have to leave the country. He couldn’t manage to land a job that would give him visa support. Luckily, at the last possible second, a school hired him! So a sayonara party turned into a congrats party. All’s well that ends well!
We all marched up to the karaoke room and discovered we were given a big ol’ party room! I walked in and froze, feeling a sense of deja vu. I turned around to look at another friend in the group.
“Did we have this room before?” I asked. “I feel like…I’ve been drunk in this room before.”
People paused, looked around, and then my friend Le____ laughed. “Yeah! I think we have in fact been in this room before!”
I made a bad joke no one heard about us needing to just reserve this party room for us every weekend then. People all immediately started inputting songs. “Mr. Brightside” by the Killers came on first, setting the mood for all of us to scream the notes out at the top of our lungs. I thought my throat would hate the singing because of my illness, but nope! I managed to sing without hurting. Man, those meds were something else. I made a mental note to ask for that same medicine next time.
We mixed up some Japanese songs. I put in “Face My Fears” by Utada Hikaru in English, even though I meant to put in Japanese better. I could sing both just fine, I just preferred the Japanese vowels for singing. Someone else put in the Japanese version of the Digimon song, to wit everyone lost their goddamn minds because we’re all a bunch of queer nerds.
And so of course, Disney had to happen, because as I said Queer Nerds. Mr. D and I did a duet of “I Can Show You The World.”
Le_____ proclaimed at the end, “That was so beautiful! You two just got married!”
And everyone laughed their asses off. Mr. D is a definitely gay man, so that was never gonna happen, but I appreciated the sentiment. I think we would’ve made a good couple in the 1950’s with me as his beard, but those old fashioned days are gone (thank God and activists).
We changed our tune to some epic “Take Me to Church” by Hozier, because we all have ex’s that screwed with our heads and we sometimes need to vent about that trauma through some therapeutic screaming into microphones. Then we got hit by Ariana Grands’ “7 Rings,” and even though we all complained about it, we all still knew the damn song.
I don’t think she’s a bastion of LGBTQIA+ representation, personally, but straight people for some reason really, really want her to be so there she is leading the charge in the UK Pride. And to be fair, she’s fine. She has been a very strong ally, no doubt about that, but I still think it’s stupid that a country that birthed Elton John, The Goddamn Spice Girls, Sam Smith, Lady Sovereign, Boy George, David Bowie (Rest in Peace, love), and many others chose Ariana Grande because…I don’t even know.
Again, to be fair Japan chose Ayumi Hamasaki to perform for Tokyo Rainbow Pride, so there’s also that. She’s also one of the few strong allies to LGBTQIA+ people in Japan, so I get why she was chosen. Also, she asked to perform, supposedly, so there’s that.
Anyways, we sang our hearts out and talked in between about new jobs coming in April or changes in current jobs. In Japan, schools and businesses do a lot of internal transfers. Some people lost their favorite Principal or Vice Principal to a better school, or alternatively celebrated the loss of a terrible teacher to lower level schools. Getting fired in Japan usually only happens when someone gets arrested, otherwise they’re just shuffled around. We all told L_______ congrats on his new job!
After about two hours, we packed up and headed off for Cafe Lavendaria in Ni-Chome for a Lazy Moon Party. Lazy Moon Parties are just gatherings where people can come in dance, and it’s open to all of the LGBTQIA+ people. It’s also generally earlier than most parties, starting at 8:00 p.m. When we got there not a lot of people were hanging out. Cafe Lavendaria is a staple in the LGBTQIA+ community. It’s a great place where in the daytime you can chill and read a book from the huge wall length bookcase, and at night there’s usually some kind of event going on that’s interesting.
The D.J. was already putting on some sick beats, so we all started dancing. I stayed good like I did at the karaoke box and didn’t drink alcohol. Fun fact: If you’re on antibiotics, you’re not supposed to drink. If you drink, you’re basically making it harder for the antibiotics to do their job. I managed to dance and run into some old friends. We all had a good time and caught up on things.
I thought being responsible would put a damper on things, but actually I still had a lot of fun. Also, bonus points to my friends since none of them put any pressure on me to drink. I figured, I don’t know, I would look like the weird one out not drinking, but actually no one cared. I realized that also, I’m pushing into my 30’s. Why the hell would it even matter if someone tried? I know I would just tell them to leave me alone, if it happened.
And then something else kind of clicked in my head: We’re all mature adults, that’s why no one is being pushy.
I know it’s a weird realization to have on a dance floor, but I had it all the same. Gone are the days of the nonsense where there were always those assholes in the group who had to demand, “Why aren’t you drinking, huh?! You want me to buy you a beer?” Because the concept of fun without beer was alien to them.
I used to be a little bit of an ass like that in university, but I realized when I got to Japan that kind of stuff was rude as all hell. I got the memo, but a lot of people didn’t get that notice well through their 20 something’s. Nowadays, no one feels the need to prove anything, I think. We’re all a little bit older and wiser, and that’s good.
I hit a wall at about 10:00 p.m. I could feel my body being mad at me for going out while sick, demanding the sleep I refused it earlier. I hugged people goodbye and headed off for home. I felt pleasantly happy, because I managed to have fun and make a decision that made me happy. I was still responsible, but I had fun.
And the next day promised some more excitement, because I had a birthday party to attend.