Lanterns outside restaurants light the way through the small alleys of Asagaya to the Gamuso bar, host of the Tokyo Closet Ball, "Japan's most outrageous variety show." At the top of the narrow stairway is a pleasant and relaxed English-style bar — the perfect place to stop, grab a drink and enjoy the spectacle as the audience arrives, many in extravagant costumes, some in drag.

Most seem to be regulars here, but the costumes, often handmade, are excellent icebreakers for newcomers looking to make connections. Compliments are free and the partygoers aren't shy with their anecdotes and costume advice.

"There is usually between 30 and 40 people watching the show and 10 performers, with sometimes guest performers," explains Taylor Wanstall, the event's organizer. "A core family, and an extended family."