Whats Up Suckaz

2014-12-14

My dance teacher Ryota put together a group of around 20 people to make a dance video. The idea was to practice for two months, hire a friend to shoot video, and spend a day recording the thing. Today was recording day. Later, after the editing work is finished, the final product will be uploaded to YouTube for all the world to see ... although probably only a few thousand people. It's great for me, since my relatives live on the other side of the Pacific and can't easily come see my live dance shows.

Music

The song we used was What's Up Suckaz by TJR. The regular tempo was a little fast, and I slowed it down 10%. The filming was done at the Wakatabi Kazuko Studio (若旅かずこジャズスタジオ), basement dance studio in Ikebukuro. The studio used to be an underground parking area, and the building owners walled off half of it, put in a dance floor, change rooms, a stereo, and started renting it out to dance groups.

Practice

We had official practice Sunday nights, optional practice Saturday nights, and Ryota's lesson was on Friday nights. That's up to three days a week of practice, if you have the time, plus whatever you want to do on your own. Most of us can't practice dance in our apartments, because it's too small and the neighbors would complain, but there's enough room to stand up, go through the song slowly, and memorize the steps. When you want to jump around, there's always the park. Occasionally people look at me strange when I start dancing to music on headphones in the park, but they haven't kicked me out. Also, when you're doing strange things, people don't stare too openly for too long. They figure maybe your brain is addled, and if they can't see you, maybe you can't see them. More importantly, when you dance in the park, there's no room for being shy about it. That helps, later, when you're on stage or in front of a camera.

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Outfits

Usually dance outfits are a pain. They can be expensive, and most of the time when they're cheap, it's because you have to make a bunch of stuff yourself. I don't mind sewing per se, but I don't have a sewing machine, and it's annoying when your dance practice time turns into arts and crafts hour. This time we kept things simple. The color scheme was black jeans, a black shirt, and black shoes, any of those with optional silver or white trim. Hats, chains, watches, and necklaces were optional, as long as they followed the black with white or silver color scheme. Also, we all had to wear a black bandana somewhere. I had two bandanas: one around my neck like a cowboy, and the other around my head to make my hat fit tightly. As for makeup, Aoi's mom did everyone's eye. It took about fifteen minutes per person. Impressive work.

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Makeup

Aoi's mom Miho did everyone's eye makeup. We all had black lines painted just below our left eyes. Impressive work! It only took four hours for eighteen people.

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Camera

Lily was the photographer. She's done some video editing and photography work for the dance studios before, and it's cool stuff. She also got a short solo in the video.

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Solos

Our video is composed of fifteen or twenty different scenes, plus two dozen solos. I'm in many of the scenes, which means I couldn't photograph them. Here are some clips from the action in which I don't appear. As usual with low-light action photography, most of the pictures I took were trash and I deleted them. My camera is fairly good in low-light settings, but it's not good enough to capture quick movements without blur. Here are some pictures that turned out reasonably well.

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Downtime Pictures

When we weren't on camera, we lounged around the dance studio. Some people took trips to Seven-Eleven in their outfits and makeup. The Seven-Eleven store clerks didn't react at all. I guess Ikebukuro has too many strange folk in it for a little eye makeup to cause a stir. Heck, when I was walking from Ikebukuro Station to the studio at eight in the morning, half the people walking down the sidewalk were stumbling drunk, evidently having stayed up all night at the bar.

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Group Pictures

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