Saturday, March 24, 2012

Dance Music: Put Your Cat Clothes On

For these guys, Elvis has never left the building

Carl Perkins: Put Your Cat Clothes On


One of the highlights of my visit to Tokyo last October was a Sunday in Shinjuku's Yoyogi Park. It's one of Tokyo's largest parks, hosted the 1964 Olympic Village, abuts the gorgeous Meiji Shrine, and is one of the best people-watching venues anywhere. On that Sunday (Halloween, coincidentally) I saw all sorts of groups and clubs coming together for whatever it was that caught their non-work fancy: cosplayers in their Gothic Lolita finery gathered near the entrance, martial arts clubs practiced together in a shady field, adult jump-rope clubs perfected their routines near the pedestrian bridge, teenaged girls worked out synchronized pop dance moves, dogwalkers paraded their pets on the main walkway. The variety of activity was astounding.

The most unusual gathering, though, has to be the Tokyo Rockabilly Club, who set up shop right at the main entrance and have been doing so every Sunday for years. In Japanese fashion, they uniformly dress to conform to a non-conforming greaser standard: leather jackets, massive pompadours and ducktails, sunglasses, and shocking (for Japan) tattoos. They crank up their boom boxes to feature both Japanese and classic American rokabiri (rockabilly) hits. And then they dance. The photo I took doesn't do it justice; you should check them out on YouTube.

Carl Perkins was one of Sun Records' biggest rockabilly stars in the mid-50s, loved and covered by both Elvis and The Beatles. His first hit was the classic Blue Suede Shoes, but the one I'm going with seems to suit the Shinjuku crowd scene better. Rock on!

blog comments powered by Disqus