Militant Much?

Some things in Japan are clearly based on ancient history.  Others are clearly based on Western influence.  And yet a few things remain which are based on a more recent, non-western history.  ^_^  It’s... interesting.

Some things in Japan are clearly based on ancient history. Others are clearly based on Western influence. And yet a few things remain which are based on a more recent, non-western history. ^_^ It’s… interesting.

Well, I still have no access to photos, though I’ve taken a few with my mobile, 4 megapixel phone…  So I’m resorting to some photos I’ve yet to upload in an album, because I’m lazy. ^_^

Anyway, continuing with some of where I left off, the dance club had a meeting for all the new students.  I didn’t exactly FEEL like one of the new ones, because, well, I’ve been going to the practice room basically every day for the last few days and gleaming what I can from the free time of others in the club.  Due to my previous dance experience (square, round, and a little social, modern, and step — all with “dance” thrown in afterward ^_^) I’ve managed to impress a few people with how quickly I pick things up, I guess…  And I’ve already danced with several of the already-old members, so I really don’t feel like a “newbie” at all! >.<  Plus there’s this whole sempai/kouhai (upper-/lower-classman, kind of) thing in Japan that, being an American I don’t really ‘get,’ nor do I think that with only four months in this club that it matters much if I try my best to follow unless they really push me to.  I’m at least a year or two older than any of them anyway! ^_^

Okay, so I’ve been stealing practice time from the club members, and then, finally (less than a week later = ‘finally’), they have the new member meeting where they show off the dance styles, do a little tooting of the dancing-horn, and then show them what kinds of exercises they do each practice to help.  And let me tell you, that is when I got COMPLETELY floored.

First off, to start the meeting, the president said… something that I didn’t understand or probably really catch or anything, and everybody lined up facing forward, a simple block formation.  He said some things, and they shouted some one-syllable response akin to ‘ooh-rah’ or something in English.  Then then broke off into demonstrations.

Here I have some corrections to make:  “Modern” dance (as they call it) consists of Waltz, Tango, Slow-Foxtrot, and Quick Step.  “Latin” (which is what we call it in America, too) dance consists of Rhumba, Paso Doble, Samba, and maybe Cha-cha.  Of those, Waltz, Tango, Quick Step, and Paso Doble are freaking AWESOME.  The others are nifty, kind of cool, and some of them rather sexy at times, but none have the intense power of the four I listed.  This has been Scotty’s opinion, and you can take it for what it’s worth. ^_^

So then it came time to demonstrate what they do for warm-ups or whatever at practice, and also where I started fearing to ever drink red kool-aid if anyone ever offered me any!  Basically they formed the block again, the leader called out a command, they all responded in kind and turned in to the center (boys half facing girls half), then the leader said the name of the exercise, they gave a shouting response and took their dance posture while a few more experienced members adjusted.  Another instruction and they started a jumping/rhythm practice exercise as though in time to the music, as the leader shouted “SLOW, SLOW, QUICK-QUICK, SLOW” and everyone echoed, rinse, and repeat.  About this time I started thinking to myself, “Wow, self, are they militant much?” and almost ran for the door.

But I stayed in my seat.  (Aren’t you proud of me? ^_^)  They did this for a few exercises, and then again after more demonstrations for the Latin dances, and I caught myself feeling a little afraid of what was going on.

And then I remembered something a Japanese teacher told me long ago.  See, Japan used to be a very militarized country indeed.  Schools were designed for two things:  Nationalism and preparing boys to join the military.  So they USED to have a lot of regulation things, they used to have marching practices in middle schools, and I imagined that a lot of that sort of thing probably stuck around in the school activities, even after the school system was changed by the Americans, because the clubs aren’t regulated or run by the schools so much as by the students, passing information down from one to another year after year.  So it’s not SO weird that such practices would still be around.  I also thought that even in American sports, such activities are alive, well, and expected each practice before things really get going.  In fact, the ONLY thing that was weird here was that it was a dance club doing this and not a football team.  This actually was a bit of a comfort to me… kind of… because it helps me see that the dance club really is a TEAM, despite having partners and everything, they all warm up together and know what’s what at each practice.  They’re serious about training to be great dancers, and so am I, so that’s cool.

Plus it gives me a great experience and probably a lot more future insight into Japanese school/society, and what it’s like to BE a Japanese person, possibly.  And that’s something I could never hope for, so maybe by seeing what I can of the club I’m in, I can get at least a little feel for it.  ^_^

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