Lamont Raymond is better known simply as Monty to thousands of Japanese clubbers. After arriving in Tokyo on an English-teaching gig more than a decade ago, he ended up working as the sales manager for Tokyo Classified (the free paper now known as Metropolis). For many years, if you had picked up a copy, you would have seen his mini-mug shot smiling out each week in the staff photographs on the last page. Two years ago, he left to start his own freebie — a mini-mag called CIA (Club Information Agency).
|Monty (bottom) and some of the people you can expect to meet at PassionJUDE BRAND PHOTOS|
That is Lamont. Monty, on the other hand, is a night person. Like many foreign gay men before him, he was shocked by the racial discrimination in Shinjuku 2-chome. Many gay bars ban foreigners. Why? “They think we’re all dirty and have AIDS,” says Monty.
His first reaction was to sue the masters. “But then I realized that their attitude was just ignorance and that the best cure is knowledge.”
So instead of creating a backlog in Tokyo’s courts with discrimination suits, he started throwing parties. “That way they could come and meet us and get to know us, and realize that their preconceptions were wrong. I decided to take action in a positive way.”
And that’s why he called his company In Action, which now hosts half a dozen regular club parties around town and has launched as many careers for Japanese club DJs.
Three parties — first The Ring, then Cross Over and now Passion — form the core of In Action’s club roster. But Monty also regularly hooks up with other local producers to host joint efforts, like the annual Malawi Rocks-Liquid Room-In Action Halloween party. It was at that party two years ago that Monty met one of his current DJs. When Envy won the best costume award, Monty had a chance to talk to him and discover that he could spin. So he gave him a spot in the V.I.P. room at Passion. The room became another dance floor, which is why the management cracked down and banned DJs in the V.I.P. room, and also, more importantly, why Envy ended up being upgraded to the main floor.
That was at Code in Shinjuku, where Passion has resided since it began three years ago. But, as of the next party (Aug. 10), Passion will move to a new venue — the TSK Building Colosseum Hall. “The venue with many names,” as Monty puts it. Some call it Spiral, some Space Cake or Speakeasy, and some simply call it Colosseum Hall. Now, just to complicate things, everyone calls it Pylon because Phil Miller, the host of that party, has secured the lease.
Monty is no stranger to Colosseum Hall, as I prefer to call it. Both The Ring and Cross Over have resided there in the past. And now with Passion moving there, Envy will get his own dance floor — the Glamour Lounge, where he will spin New York house. (Perhaps I should mention here that Envy is a cross-dresser and looks drop-dead gorgeous in full drag.) Shinkawa and Monobe, both In Action proteges whom Monty has nurtured to club stardom, will spin U.K. hard house in the Cross Over Zone, and Michael and Timka — two new foreign In Action recruits with global club creds, will mix progressive house and fusion house, respectively, on the Passion Floor.
If this is all sounding like too much to fit into one venue, then you haven’t been to Colosseum Hall — or, at least, not recently. It is a fabulous, I mean, fantastic, space designed like a castle turret. A large, circular central stone core is flanked by a spiral walkway, which extends into small, tiered chill-out areas. And now that Phil has the lease, he has managed to open up another two floors in addition to the two dance floors downstairs. If you’ve never been clubbing in Tokyo before, this is the place and the party to get you started. And it’s right in the heart of Roppongi, too . . .