For the first time in several countdowns, the Tokyo crowd has to choose, or at least compromise, on where to be on New Year’s Eve.

There’ll be no third date this year for Solstice Music and Vision Quest. We saw this coming, really, after the overwhelming 13,000-strong extravaganza at Makuhari Messe in 2002/03.

Both Solstice and VQ have set up closer to Tokyo and both are planning something pretty special.

New Maps of Hyperspace

Solstice Music presents Countdown 2004

Tokyo Bay NK Hall (Tokyo Disney Resort)

Opens 8 p.m. / Starts 9 p.m.

Advance: 10,000 yen / Door: 12,000 yen

For serious Shpongle fans (are there any other kind?), this will be the party of choice. The Raja Ram-Simon Posford combo will be joined by sound magician DJ OTT, jazz guitarist Pete Callard, opera singer Abigail Gorton and Japanese drummer Nogera for a 10 p.m. performance that should erase any notion of hard barriers between musical genres.

Solstice recommends arriving early for this one. Allow extra time for security checks and stashing your gear.

Being located next to the new Disney Sea park apparently means being treated to spectacular fireworks at midnight, when G.M.S. will take over from DJ Dimitri DKN to kick off a six-hour string of live acts, each running a comfortable one hour and 15 minutes. Etnica, Wrecked Machines, Hallucinogen and 1200 Micrograms rotate through until 6:15, when Dimitri returns to take the hardcore party people through until 9 a.m.

Heads up on the Wrecked Machines set (2:30-3:45 a.m.). Gabriel Serrasqueiro couldn’t make the Japan launch party for his first Wrecked album “Blink” back in June. This gem should be fast, light and very easy to dance to. Serrasqueiro may be from Brazil, but his work on “Blink” comes from another galaxy.

[Tokyo Bay NK Hall] is accessible from Maihama Station (JR Keiyo Line), where you can catch the Tokyo Disney Resort Line. Get on at Resort Gateway Station and get off at Bayside Station.

Parking is reportedly limited, so public transportation is recommended. People under 20 years of age not admitted.

Enlightening (20 Hours of Nonstop Music)

Vision Quest Countdown 2004

Differ Ariake

Starts 9 p.m. / Ends Jan. 1 at 5 p.m.

Advance: 7,500 yen / Door: 9,000 yen

OK, I already know what some of you are thinking. Differ is a bit small for a countdown party expected to draw 4,000 people. The place is a steamy zoo at half that size.

So Vision Quest figured out a way to more than double the space. Plans are to erect an expansive tent structure over the parking lot and set out heaters to create a massive chill-out, vending and food zone with an ambient dome.

There may be a door limit of around 4,000 for this event, so plan ahead. While it’s known that NK Hall can “seat” 6,000 people, the dynamics of the indoor/outdoor plan for Differ haven’t been tested. The fireworks view is questionable.

Vision Quest’s lineup for this countdown resembles a killer day at Gathering: Infected Mushroom, X-Dream, Dino Psaras, Bamboo Forest, Juvenile, Karmachanics and Intergalactic will play live. The only Gathering regulars who will be missing are Skazi, who just played here last weekend, Astrix (played Differ last month) and G.M.S., who will be working across the bay.

Dino will also play a DJ set, as will Marcus (X-Dream), Duvdev and Erez (both of Infected Mushroom), Shanti (Juvenile) and Stephane (Bamboo Forest). Rounding out the bill are DJs Ami, Jorg, Mitsumoto and Sancar.

Keep an eye on Vision Quest’s Web site for the lineup. With all these goodies to choose from, it’s tough to pick one standout. But the last two Jorg sets I’ve seen (both at Planetary Nation, Gifu, Oct. 11) totally blew me away.

Reach Ariake Differ by the Rinkai Line (Kokusai-tenjijo Station) or Yurikamome Line (Ariake Station). The Differ parking lot will obviously be closed, but Odaiba seems to have plenty of parking facilities.

The violence scare could be over

It was a fine and haughty little boast while it lasted: “You never see fights at trance parties. We’re a peaceful crowd.”

Until the wee hours of Nov. 2, I had seen only one punch thrown in about five years of Tokyo parties, and the receiver of that was asking for it. (Literally: I saw him point at his own chin before he went flying backward. Then he stood up and shook hands with the fist that decked him and resumed dancing. Does that even count?)

A buzz-killing, nine-minute melee in the chill-out zone at Ariake Differ brought the new truth smack-dab home. Sad. I watched the whole thing. It wasn’t even us — we’re still a peaceful crowd.

From across the room (at 04:32) I saw two guys posturing against security on the stairs up to the balcony, chest-to-chest hubris, nothing serious. It was actually calming down until the door security staff joined in. The eruption scattered people who had been chilling against the wall, sent tables scooting and chairs skidding. By 04:41, the scrum was almost out the door. As soon as things settled down, I got my coat. The party, for me at least, was over.

Of course there have been other altercations. I just haven’t seen any. (Can’t be everywhere!) Even with stories of bad vibes and fisticuffs coming in more frequently over the past several months, I didn’t want to believe it. Nine minutes was all it took to change that.

The problem is that the local hoodlums — or “chimpira” — finally figured out where all the cool people party, and they don’t want to be left out.

Troubled youths many are, they show up, proud and primped, sloshing testosterone all over the place, networked and in numbers, in which there is safety.

That also describes the door security staff that night — except that the guys at the door are pro wrestler-size. It was mere misfortune that the fight occurred at the end of an otherwise totally groovy Solstice party.

This incident, according to one local event security expert, was probably the result of a “mistaken level of respect” shown to the chimpira, perhaps a push where none was warranted. Either way, the reaction of both sides seemed excessive, given that it started with “Please don’t crowd the stairs.”

Hopefully, that was the high-water mark of this scare. In two events since then at Differ, both Vision Quest parties, there were no such disruptions, even though the key players — the chimpira, organizer-hired security (for the dance floor and stage) and Differ security staff — were virtually the same.

The problem, it seems, is being resolved on a group basis (“shape your guys up, or else”) and the results are promising. The honchos of the various chimpira groups are keeping their charges in line, in rare cases ejecting their own. Japan’s unique group mentality works in mysterious and wonderful ways. It had better, for the sake of the party.

Other parties

Nomad CPU Mad Attack Tour


Saturday at Cafe Le Psyence, Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture

Starts 11 p.m. Door: 5,000 yen

This should be a neat little thing, especially for the lower Kanto crowd. Cafe Le Psyence has a cozy dance floor in the back of the Hide Museum (pronounced “hee-day”) on the waterfront, which can mean a really chilly 15-20 minute walk from Yokosuka Chuo Station (Keihin Kyuko Line).

It’s not a big room, but the sound is good and this lineup should make for a real fun event. Playing live is Nomad (3D Vision), CPU (3D Vision) and Theoreme (Arcadia). The DJs are Mael (Nomad) and Ilija.

Point of Focus


Dec. 19 at Ark Studio Cube 326 (Shibaura, Tokyo)

Starts 11 p.m. Door: 3,500 yen; with flyer 3,000 yen

Special guest live act Spitfunk (Festa Trystar); DJs Ryo (Solstice), Kemal (Zodiac) and Kei (Quintrex). Special DJ set by Xayla.

Zodiac’s Friday night parties take on their own kind of energy over at Cube326. The place is even harder to leave now that the cafe has opened on the first floor.

For those who stay away because they are saving energy for Saturday, you’d be surprised at how invigorating it is to shake that stress on Friday night.


Psychedelic Summit after hours

a-life, in Nishiazabu, Tokyo

Dec. 21, starts 7 a.m.

Door: 3,000 yen / with flyer: 2,500 yen

DJs Ami (Vision Quest), Ryo (Solstice) and Yuske (Ultima). Have you tried a-life on a Sunday morning? Full-on, relentless and friendly. If church was like this maybe I’d think about going.


Mother 1st Anniversary Japan Tour

Differ Ariake

Dec. 22, starts 11 p.m.

Advance: 4,500 yen / Door: 5,500 yen

D-Tek, another Planetary Nation party standout, joins Atomic Pulse and Protoculture, along with DJs Tamir Ozana and Mairo-Such, Ta-Ka and the Global Chillage DJ Team.

The next day is a holiday for most people – the Emperor’s 70th birthday. My guess is that he won’t show up. Web site at www.mother.bz/

Disorder and Chaos


Ark Studio Cube326

Dec. 28, starts 6:30 a.m.

Door: 2,500 yen / Advance (only at Cisco2), or with flyer 2,000 yen

Xavier Morel vs. Vocded Froggy. Don’t ask me how to say Froggy’s first name, but Xavier is synonymous with a wicked-cool music experience.

In line with COVID-19 guidelines, the government is strongly requesting that residents and visitors exercise caution if they choose to visit bars, restaurants, music venues and other public spaces.

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