Tango in Tokyo

June 2000

After I wrote my first report just a little more than one year ago, I observed a huge growth of tango society in Japan. Unfortunately it was concentrated in Tokyo and around it. Except Tokyo, only other area you can dance tango is Kyoto/Osaka area which is the second largest and populated area in Japan. (I recently heard that a small group of people in Sapporo started argentine tango, there)

Now you can dance tango in Tokyo every night. You can dance in a nice restaurant, public hall, and Latin bar.

You will have plenty of chances of dancing to a live tango band. Maybe there are more bandoneonist in Tokyo than entire USA. You can buy rare Tango music CDs in a big record shop. There are many schools and teachers, who are trained in Buenos Aires. Also there are invited Argentine dancers and teachers who stay in Tokyo for long term and teach.

Among those tango places, the one I first visited was called SUIYOKAI, this means "Wednesday party" in Japanese. This is the most mature and dedicated tango society in Japan. The Organizer Mr. Yuzawa started Wednesday party in 1955. It started as a ballroom dance party on every Wednesday. Mr. Yuzawa (who was young that time) wanted to organize a nice and friendly ballroom dance party for people who don't want to go expensive and rather degenerated dance halls. Several years ago, SUIYOKAI became the first tango argentino dance party in Tokyo. It is like a milonga in other places. Mr Yuzawa keeps his policy that not expensive, friendly, and gentle environments. The entrance fee (1000-1500 yen) is very cheap considering other costs in Japan and he serves free snacks and wine, too. It is not any more Wednesday party, it usually have party at every Tuesday and Saturday, and once in a month, on Sunday, there is a party with a live tango band.

Mr. Yuzawa is doing DJ. He has a great collection of Tango LPs and CDs, sometimes in the middle of dance, he has a moment for a special album. It could be a very rare old LP or a brand new CD.

The place is not a bar nor studio. The usual places Yotsuya Chiiki Center, To-I Kenpo Kaikan are some kind of public halls. The places have large nice floors. I recommend SUIYOKAI. You can see the most dedicated tangueros and tangueras in Tokyo there.

Another place I had visited was a very nice restaurant "Encounter Playhouse"

This place has regular salsa and tango parties. The date changes from time to time. It was Friday when I visited there, but I heard that tango party moved to Sunday recently. With high ceiling and beautiful floor, it became one of the best tango places in Tokyo. The entrance fee is 1500-3000 yen depends on which is included for the fee. When I was there, it was rather smaller group of people, much younger and many foreigners.

It is a quite romantic place, a bar is at the side of floor so you can order food and drink there. It started from 6pm and closed at 11pm. This place is a little hard to find, you will need some help from who knows this place.

I also recommend a monthly party (milonga) by young dancer/teacher couple Liliana and Kenji, "Tango Orillero".

It is held at "Event hall Musashino", which is located nearby JR Kichijoji Station. This place is used by dance lessons and events. The floor is very good and quite wide. Liliana and Kenji teach Tango there and hold party once in a month. It is on Sunday 5 pm to 8:30. Entrance fee is 3000 Yen, but it include unlimited amount of wine and more than enough snacks. Usually there are guest dancers who do demonstration dance, if there is none, Liliana and Kenji will do.

It is quite fun party. You can find many foreigners from Germany, China, Canada, Argentina, America, Iran, Korea.. in this place.

Also there are many young dancers compared with other places. Sometimes floor is too crowded. And if you are over 190cm, you will feel uncomfortable for the low ceiling.

There is no tanda-cortina, but about once in a hour, Liliana plays Salsa, Merengue, Swing CDs. It is not Cortina, Liliana loves those dances, too. It is another dance time.

I recommend this party, too. Liliana and Kenji are really nice and fun to know. But you may not have chance to visit here if you stay in Japan only 2-3 weeks.

I heard from some Japanese lady that a place called "Asahi Square-A" has monthly party called "Milonga Party" which is hosted by Argentine tango teacher Gustavo. She recommended this place that the hall is very beautiful and romantic. You can get information about this party from Tel: 0422-79-2401 (in Japan)

I haven't visit other places yet, I will if I have time before I leave Japan.

<B>Note:</B> When you visit Japan, it is better to bring your dance shoes. Most of place requires to wear dance shoes. Especially for Liliana's party, you cannot enter the hall if you don't take off your shoes.