Selected by Don Crispy

Kingyo Club

Courtesy of A-project, Inc.

Every now and then you need a break from the familiar loops and beats of Tokyo nightlife. So I decided to take up Lexington Queen personality Bill Hersey on his invitation to visit a Roppongi landmark - the Kingyo Club - and take in its legendary transvestite dinner show.

Arriving a little late, the wife and I were ushered to our seats in the darkened, packed little theatre. Dancers - buff boys, petite lasses and nyu hafu (transsexuals) garbed in outlandish costumes - were already cavorting about the various levels of the stage, legs flashing and muscles flexing. But despite a brief moment of concern, this proved to be (more or less) family entertainment - no surprise it' on the Hato Bus tour itinerary.

Combining Western and Japanese traditional and modern dance routines in a cabaret style revue, Kingyo Club offers an action-packed hour of entertainment that had the audience entranced. And, unlike most performances here, the choreographers don't shy away from delicate topics.

In one routine, a man in a yukata with a sanshin (Okinawan lute) strolls in from the back, plucking a plaintive melody. Another act starts out as a sunny story set in a South Sea paradise. Soon, however, the play turns nightmarish as, dancers in US marine uniforms reenact the rape of a defenseless schoolgirl. In another routine, dancers dressed as DoCoMo, IDO and J-Phone characters enact the cellular phone wars taking place in Japan. Other routines are less unusual, depicting various historical episodes in Japanese history or more garden-variety romance.

When the show is over, the dancers transform into hostesses (this is Japan after all), emerging from backstage to chat up the delighted audience. No one seems to notice that most of the hostesses are, in fact, hosts.

Like seeing Sumo or visiting Tsukiji, the Kingyo Club is one of those things that you definitely want to do while you're in Japan. But like the former must-dos, once is probably enough.

Kingyo Club: 3-14-17 Roppongi, Minato-ku. Shows at 7pm, 10pm and 1:30am (1:30am show Fri-Sun only, closed Mondays), JY4000. Tel: 03-3478-3000.

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