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Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Anime Expo 2009 Adult Swim Edition: A Girl’s Night Out
Posted by Lola Granola in Staff Blogs July 15, 2009 at 03:10:55 PM

It is a Saturday night in Los Angeles. Most of my friends are passed out from exhaustion, tired from Anime Expo. It is 10:00 pm and I am wide awake. What was I to do by myself at such an hour? Go dancing of course! This year’s Anime Expo dances were held conveniently at my very own hotel, the Westin Bonaventure. Also different from last year, Anime Expo chose not to detail what kind of music was to be played at each dance. Though the information would have been useful, I decided to go with the most thrilling option available: the 18+ dance. After putting on my dance shoes, I made my way down to the ballroom level of the Westin.

The line for the dance was not hard to miss. By the time I arrived, the line had already snaked halfway around the floor. Nonetheless, I was enthusiastically greeted with high-fives by random con-goers as I tried to find the end of the line. When I situated myself at the end of the line, I was suddenly struck with the realization that was completely alone. All around me people were talking and laughing with their friends. I attempted to ignore this self-conscious growth by continuing to observe my surroundings.

The extravagant cosplays of the day were gone. A handful of women wore full length ballroom dresses, but most donned short dresses and casual attire. The men followed similar dress code, most wearing jeans and nice shirts. People looked, well – normal. If a random person walked by, they would have had to look twice, maybe three times to realize this was an event for an anime convention and not a regular dance club. As I waited, the line grew and grew. The start time of the dance was also delayed, starting an hour later than scheduled. And people didn’t seem to mind.

The gentlemen behind me struck up a conversation. Seeing that I had come alone, he kindly introduced himself and his friends. That is one thing that has always amazed me about Anime Expo. People here are always so friendly, even to complete strangers. We exchanged enjoyable chit chat as the line moved, then parted ways once we entered the dance hall. I had then discovered the music genre of the night: industrial, electronic rave beats. I know how to dance. But I have never been to a rave.

Otaku. This is a derogatory label for anime obsessed. Some hate it. Some embrace it. Some revere it as a twisted title. Prominent outside stereotypes include awkward individuals with virtually no social skills. Anime Expo is full of them. And yet, I saw none. I saw normal looking young men and women wanting to have a good time, interacting with one another, dancing, laughing, and having a blast. Glow sticks abound, attendees rocked the dance floor with friends, moving with the crowd. Even those who came by themselves couldn’t escape the fun. I was approached a few times for a dance, and was happy to oblige.

Besides dancing, there was plenty to see. Whether AX’s panel, “The Art of Glow Sticking” had anything to do with it, people damn sure knew how to make bright colorful sticks look somewhat impressive. For the wanderers, there were circles formed to witness the skills of extremely talented free stylers and break dancers. Having never experienced a rave, I spent most of my time wandering, impressed with talented dance moves and the way people seemed to lose themselves in the music. Eventually, the kind gentlemen who had approached me in line tapped me on the shoulder and attempted to teach me how to do a “figure eight” with glow sticks, which he let me keep. Though I failed quite miserably, I hope he someday comes across this article and finds how much I appreciated this kind gesture.

The dance itself went along differently from last year. To begin with, the room itself was much smaller than I remembered. Perhaps AX had to downsize dances, following the economic trend. No longer were the spacious interiors of convention ball rooms. Instead, the room felt like it was half of last year’s size, the ceiling lower, and the stage considerably smaller. However, the dramatic change went unnoticed. Despite the long wait and cut backs, the dance floor was alive. Indeed, the wooden ballroom floor added an extra bounce to the step, making the ground feel like it was moving on its own.

At some point it was time for me to take a break. I ventured out of the room and into the hallway, hoping to find water. Finding that the event had run out of cups, I leaned against the wall to at least cool off. That’s when I met a young gentleman named “KC” Tokumori, who offered me a cup of water from another table across the room. Name sound familiar? It should. Hiroyuki Tokumori was a character in Ai Yazawa’s Paradise Kiss, the long time crush of the heroine, Yukari Hayasaka. Ai Yazawa is also known for the popular manga and anime series, NANA.

It turned out that KC’s uncle owned Ai Yazawa’s favorite bar. For what I understood, KC told me the character in Paradise Kiss looked and acted exactly like his uncle. I asked KC if he had ever met Yazawa or if she goes to his uncle’s bar anymore, he said unfortunately not, though he wanted to meet her. KC is an exchange student from Japan. He made the important decision to come to America to improve his English and study business. I asked him what he thought about the convention. He said he was very impressed, and that he had seen nothing like this in Japan. After a while, we wished each other good luck and headed back to the dance floor.

The dance ended earlier than anyone expected. Though I do not know the details, a drunken fool had ruined it for everyone. And yet, the night didn’t end. Even if you were not at the dance and happened to be walking around the Westin Bonaventure that night, chances were, you were invited to a party. There were a number of post parties held in hotel rooms, including an unofficial annual gathering by the Westin Bonaventure pool deck, also known as the “No Pants Party”, dubbed in this manner because people usually come wearing their bath robes. The No Pants Party is only for ages 21+.

The next time you attend Anime Expo, seize the opportunity to have the best time of your life. Think beyond the panels, cosplayers, and the all mighty dealer's room. Step out of your bubble, make new friends, and share stories. Don’t be shy. Break stereotypes. Have fun, and as always, be safe. You are never alone here.
Article Comments
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Posted by on July 16, 2009 at 08:50:30 AM
Why do all the fun stuff happen in the countries I'm not, that party seemed so fun, plus the expo, curses. But I must say this article is very well written.
Posted by Archaic Devices on July 16, 2009 at 01:17:04 AM
Very nice and thoughtout. You're very good at retelling events in an interesting way. It sounded pretty fun, maybe someday when I'm 18 I'll attend one of these dances.
Posted by on July 15, 2009 at 03:37:58 PM
I enjoyed this article. Sounded like a fun place to be at the time, and I agree with Kie. I wish to know more about the drunken fool.
Posted by on July 15, 2009 at 03:36:15 PM
Sounds like you had tons of fun. I hope I get it together and come next year. Maybe I'll be 2010's drunken party crasher! Though I do wonder what that person did... It'll haunt me.

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