Fifties Dancers at Fifty

A crowd gathers in Yoyogi park on Sunday afternoon to watch an institution of Tokyo “street” culture: the Fifties Dancers. Oh, Pompadours and Regents! Leather jackets and sunglasses and chest tattoos. I’d seen them in documentaries and cigarette ads, but here they are in the flesh!

No, there has not been a revival of the late 1970s/early 1980s Fifties scene. These are the same “kids” from the original movement, showing up in Yoyogi to dance their silly dances to the classics of early ’80s J-pop as if it were a Theta-Pi Homecoming Tailgate. They’re in their late 40s now, skin as rough and tough as their leather.

Who needs new Japanese street fashion from “rebellious” youth when the middle-aged will drive into the city on the weekends and show the kids how it’s done? Hopefully soon we’ll get some real-deal Takenokozoku grandmothers and Taiyo-zoku zombies rising from the graves of Shonan — that will get this youth culture thing up and moving again! The bandaged Cosuplay freakshow on the bridge just sit there, expecting to be photographed. More dancing, less posing, people.

W. David MARX
February 19, 2008

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