A weekend of dance music in Tokyo and a review of ageHa club

Image credit stonesshowcontrol.com/

My rating for ageHa club: 6.5/10. The venue was huge, especially the outdoor one (unfortunately it was raining, but usually you can see the sunrise). There were so many spaces to explore and time flew by in there. However, it is just way too far from the city center!!! So hard and stressful to get to via metro&train.

I was in Tokyo for a 4 days in October, and besides doing weird things in Tokyo, I got to check out a bit of the dance music scene. I visited ageHa and a smaller techno club with a killer sound system called Origami. There are two megaclubs in Tokyo known for dance music, both ranked on the DJ Map 100: ageHa (67) and Womb (49). Though I had originally preferred to go to Womb (it was drum & bass night, with Camo & Krooked spinning! Seems like Womb is the place to be for drum&bass and techno events), I ended up going to ageHa since my friends were planning on going there and I was hoping to see a beautiful sunrise friend the outdoor stage of ageHa.

ageHa at sunrise. Photo credit: tripadvisor
ageHa outdoor “water” stage at sunrise. Photo credit: Tripadvisor

I briefly considered club hopping, but quickly learned upon arrival that Tokyo is HUGE. Since the two clubs are in totally different areas, as you can see in the right and left corner of the map, it was pretty much impossible to club hop from one to the other as the subway shuts down at midnight (no night buses), and cabbing would have cost me more than 100 bucks. ageHa does have a bus service to the club throughout the night from Shibuya, though my friends told me that it was sometimes unreliable or overcrowded.

Our night out to ageHa began with a group of us gathering and pre-drinking at our host Matt & Ryan’s place. Paul van Dyk was spinning that night, and many of YR’s friends were part of the Trance Family Japan – they were excited! I must say here that I don’t know if it’s because it’s a Trance Family, or a Japanese cultural thing, or that YR just has super awesome friends, but EVERY single one of his friends were sooo amazing and friendly!!! 😀

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We left the apartment around 11:30pm to catch the last train, or rather we tried to, and ended up sprinting to the metro station in questionable outfits. I was a bit embarrassed at first, but since this was Japan, no one stared or even batted an eye, so I quickly felt comfortable. There were couple minutes of panic and stress in fear of missing the last train, and a couple seconds of dashing in the rain, but we made it on to all our trains safe and sound, and an hour later we were in line to enter ageHa. While in line, we were cut by 30+ people who just pushed their way ahead of their line (I thought Japanese people were polite?!). I was loudly complaining, and soon after witnessed a line-cutter swing a punch at someone (part of the Japanese mob Yakuza??) so I quickly shut up. By the way, there are lockers outside the club where you can leave all your stuff. I don’t remember seeing any inside.

Me and new friend/trance lover Ayano. I was surprised about the presence of Kandi in Japan. I think it's something that some Japanese adopted from Americans, and they do it very well! To think of it, kandi is very Japanese-y
Me and new friend/trance lover Ayano, on the way to ageHa on the subway. I was surprised about the presence of Kandi in Japan. I think it’s something that something Ayano in particular adopted from Americans, from having been to raves in the US. To think of it, the concept of kandi is very Japanese-y

ageHa is a megaclub and it was packed, despite the fact that it has 4 stages! The main stage was gigantic, and looks a lot like a theater. It played trance/trouse that night. There were 2 other techno stages – one small area indoors and another stage outdoors, with a pool in the middle. There was another stage that I was at for about 5 seconds and left because I was unimpressed by the music – not helpful but I cannot recall what genre it played.

Mainstage at ageHa. Photo credit: TripAdvisor
Mainstage at ageHa. Photo credit: TripAdvisor

My friends stayed at the Main Stage for the whole night. This was my third time seeing Paul van Dyk in the year, in 3 different continents, and each time I was left less impressed than the last. Fed up with the commercial house that he has been playing, I ended up spending most the night merrily dancing on my own at the two techno stages.

Middle of the night at the water stage
Middle of the night at the water stage

Unfortunately, it was raining on and off throughout the night so I wasn’t able to stay at the outdoor stage as much as I’d liked, or see a sunrise due to the clouds. The outdoor stage is a bit awkward with a pool in the middle of it, and signs throughout that say “NO DIVING”. Later in the night, a guy and a girl fell/jumped in, and then were promptly fished out and surrounded by 5 security guys. Nonetheless, it had a good ambiance.

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No diving in the pool.
No diving in the pool.

People were quite friendly, though most speak little to no English! A drunk guy insisted on buying me a drink every time he ran into me, which I accepted (poor graduate student here..) and always ended up wandering off. Many people were just dancing by themselves and having a good time – club version of otaku? I like that there’s no making out at the club, thanks Japan.

Drink prices were around 1,000 yen per drink (about $10), and admission prices depend on the night, varying between 2,500 to 3,500 yen ($25-$35). The crowd was predominantly Japanese (given the size of the club it is not a surprise), but also had a good amount of foreigners (Caucasians). I also had my first glimpse of the Japanese Yakuza.. Some guy beat another guy up a couple feet behind us in the line. It was kind of surprising that in the line, people were pushing through each other and cutting the line … (would have thought this didn’t happen in an orderly country like Japan). Maybe they were all connected to the mob, in that case, I probably shouldn’t have tried to block people from cutting me in line. Anyway, though I wasn’t impressed by the music – it would have been great if each stage played a different genre – I was entertained throughout the night and had fun.

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