C/W Dancing in Japan - an update

by Martha Ogasawara (5/98)

A few years ago I wrote an article called "C/W Dancing in Japan". Hopefully, most of you are now aware that, although it's on a very small scale, C/W dancing in Japan does exist. Since things have changed a little since then, I thought it was about time to give you an update.

Our dance group Nagoya Crazy Feet is still flourishing, although in a somewhat depleted state. Our core group of dancers is still as dedicated as ever, but as with any group we have lost some members along the way. Therefore, our primary goal for this year is to hold a series of workshops for beginners to try and get more people interested in C/W dancing.

One of the hardest things about promoting C/W dancing here is that C/W music is virtually unknown. Not only is it almost never played on the radio, but it's even difficult to find a store that carries C/W music CDs. What most people seem to think of when they hear the term "country western music" is old western movies and that kind of music. Unfortunately, that has little to do with the music that we use for dancing. The plus side is that we don't have the debate over whether the music we choose is "country-enough". As long as it is good dance music, no one seems to mind whether it's country, techno-beat or latin. We have even been debating, particularly in regards to line dancing, whether or not we should change what we call it from "C/W Dance" to simply "Line Dance". The only problem with that is that in Japanese the term "line dance" is already associated with French can-can dancing, which is not exactly what we do either.

As seems to be true in many places, we have quite a few more women than men in our club. And even the male members that we do have are often too busy to attend. Therefore, we aren't able to do as much couples dancing as we'd like. However, we do try to keep up with as many of the current line dances as we can. Thanks to the Internet, we now have access to information about what's being done in other parts of the world. It's nice to feel like we are part of a worldwide dance scene.

Some of the newer dances that we are currently doing, in no particular order, are OOO!AAH!, Uno, Dos, Tres, Shakin' All Over, The Rock & Roll Waltz, Ridin', Jose Cuervo, Whatcha' Gonna Do (Mary Lou), Men In Black, Slap, Stomp & Roll, Java Jive and OeeOeeO. So you can see that our taste tends to be quite eclectic. We enjoy a variety of music and dance styles. We also try to do some of the old favorites as well, just so we don't forget them. However, since we only get to dance once or twice a month, usually from 10-4 on Sundays, our dance time is somewhat limited.

About a dozen of us will be attending the New Orleans Country Dance Mardi Gras this July. We love attending big dance festivals in the U.S. when we can. It gives us a chance to take workshops and be exposed to a variety of other dances and dancers. We really enjoy the stimulation. And we're especially glad because our 3 favorite dance instructors will be there too-Scott Blevins, Jo Thompson and Greg Underwood. If anyone reading this sees us there, please come up and say hello. (We'll be the people talking in Japanese.)

This article should perhaps have been more correctly titled "C/W Dancing in Nagoya". (But then you wouldn't have known where that was.) There is a growing C/W dance scene in Tokyo and other parts of Japan as well. If I can get some help from my friend Hiro Suzuki, who is one of the leaders of the C/W dance scene in Tokyo, I will try next month to tell you about C/W dancing in other parts of Japan as well.