The first time Takahiro Maeda saw his senpai Magsam dancing hip-hop style in a club, he knew that’s what he wanted to do. He also realized not long after trying the moves himself that he could never be a professional dancer. So, instead, he busied himself organizing events where Magsam and his friends could dance and others, like himself, could enjoy the mood and the music.
After seven years of organizing hip-hop dance parties at venues such as Club Asia and Harlem, suddenly a rare opportunity presented itself. One night, relaxing in a restaurant after an event, one of his regular partygoers suggested they open a club together — an offer not lightly made and one not to be refused.
The result is Simoon. Your dictionary will tell you that “simoon” means “a hot, dry, suffocating, dust-laden wind blowing at intervals, especially in the Arabian desert.” Ironically, Simoon is where Maeda and his friends escape from such an ill wind — an oasis in the dust bowl of Shibuya’s clubs, “a shinkai [new deep ocean] where we can chill and express ourselves,” explains Maeda.
Beyond the flaming-red lockers in the lobby, you will find a long, relaxing lounge area with comfy seating and a bar. Below, in the depths of the “new ocean,” is a dark, well-equipped dance floor with DJ pulpit and removable stage. Tuesday is reggae night, complete with sexy dancers — a now mandatory and not very Jah Rastafari accompaniment to such events in Tokyo. Otherwise, during the week neo-rappers strut their stuff, caps askew and fingers flying in defiance of the dust-choked streets above.
You may also find baby rappers, like Hitosashi Yubi (pointer finger) and MC Giara, hunched over notebooks as they scribble lyrics and mime their moves. The former would trade his law degree for a microphone any day. Though both professions rely on the gift of the gab, rap has the allure of being the new law for the uncharted land of Tokyo’s youth culture as it heaves and sighs and evolves.
On the weekend, however, Simoon hosts a variety of events that offer a range of music from disco to garage. Soul Power, a once regular Tuesday night party hosted at Maniac Love, has found a new home here, as has Tension, a trance party featuring DJ Shoko-F, which has long needed a permanent venue. Every other month watch out for Deeper Planet, with DJs Tanzawa and Jason Szep from Futique, who share the same management as the massively popular Ko Kimura. Even Chiga-san, the organizer of Tokyo’s premier lesbian party, Gold Finger, has secured a Saturday spot in the schedule.
But whatever the event, you will find an optimism at Simoon. It’s new and fresh and fueled by the dreams of an emerging generation of clubbers.