I am at Battle Train Tokyo, the first official footwork dance tournament in Japan. It's being held at Kata, a gallery in the capital's Ebisu district. Sixteen dancers have signed up in the hope of becoming Japan's footwork champion, which comes with a ¥50,000 cash prize and a small championship belt that wraps around the winner's leg.
Footwork is a lightning-fast style of dancing that goes hand in hand with an equally frenetic genre of electronic music called juke, the most recent variety of Chicago house. As the dancers warm up and a crowd gathers, the DJ starts dropping tunes from overseas juke favorites such as DJ Rashad, RP Boo and Traxman. A lot of the people who are pivotal to Japan's scene are here tonight
"Juke isn't really club music, although it's dance music," says Kent Alexander, 26, who is one quarter of juke group Paisley Parks. He adds that while dance culture hasn't been a strong element of club music in Japan, he sees juke and footwork as an opportunity to bring dance and club culture together. "I'd like to strengthen (juke's) position as a part of dance culture."