...written by Michael Oladele.
OCAT,Namba Parks,Dance Studios,Train Stations,Malls,Osaka Dome. These are my top 6 places to dance in Osaka. Of course there are more places you can try but these are the places I ventured into to see what kind of dancers I would find and environment they dance in. All of the above are amazing places far more than I had imagined. Every day there are dancers practicing house, hiphop, locking, poppin, group routines, university routines krumping and breaking. I came across jazz dancers, tap dancers, student actors and actresses, fashion show routines and the odd grumpy old man practicing his saxophone in the corner whilst every now and again chases away the young folks doing their thing in his 70watt electric wheel chair.
OCAT is the Osaka City Airport Bus Terminal and can be found in NAMBA near to Namba Hatch conference hall. There are signs in the Namba train station that lead up to OCAT which is also a large popular shopping mall. You can also get there by bus as it stops right outside the OCAT entrance and there are plenty of spaces for bicycles. The area used by dancers can been see from the top of OCAT entrance looking down. Interestingly enough the organisers and sponsors of the OCAT shopping mall were very found of dancing and performing arts that they built mirrors along the perimeter walls of this outside lobby. The mirror ball was also and additive for dancers to use as well as a unique feature of the OCAT image. Although it free it is in the open air which is perfect in good weather conditions (which is pretty consistent in Japan) it does close at 12am. It is a must try if you are a dancer in Japan!
Namba is one of the central shopping and amusement districts in Osaka. It is a walk away from Den Den town also know as Nipponbashi where you can drink tea with your favorite anime girls or play countless video games on 7 floors of different buildings. It is 15 minute walk away from Shinsaibashi the famous shopping and clubbing district to satisfy every one’s taste. If that isn’t enough there is also the large open air space that connects the Namba Nankai line shopping mall and Namba Parks leisure area and here, is where you find the street dancers. There can be up to a hundred dancers at a time in this area and the great thing about this space is that it is open air but it has a roof. This place is littered with all kinds of dancers that tend to find a space facing the Osaka horse race betting office as it has darkened windows that makes for a decent reflective surface.
Here is where I came across Osaka Krumpers! every Wednesday they do there thing “sessioning” loud a clear for all to see. You may think that with so many dancers around it might be too crowded but Namba parks has three floors leading downwards towards the train station or equally spacious dance space. The bottom two floors close at 8:30 but the top main floor is open all day every day!! This is a great place to meet and make friends and learn more about the street dance scene in Osaka, where to go clubbing, when the next hot battles are or simply who to train with. Sometimes various drinks promotion companies come round and hand out free drinks such as Red Bull to dancers as good gesture towards your hard work dancing and training. Namba parks is the PLACE! When you are tired or bored, you can just pop upstairs and venture around the many shops, coffee houses, restaurants, cinemas and lounge areas not to mention the awesome secret garden on the 8th floor..ooooh!!
There are so many dance studios in Osaka, in Japan! and sometimes its hard to choose which ones to go to. Really you just have to take a friends advice, read THIS blog especially the post on Dance studios in Tokyo and the coming post on dance studios in Osaka or try them out yourself.
Mostly all studios in Osaka have something great to offer but not all provide a service where you can use the studio and dance all night. Some studios such FRESH and ALLEY-OOP provide a dancers jam where you put down a small fee of 5ooyen (approximately 4pounds) and you can use the studio through the night. This is really popular with dancers as its indoors, on studio sprung floor and with general facilities within easy reach. Street dancers tend to use these for extra classes they set up themselves, private routine developments for battles and large competitions but majority use it as a extra place to party and dance picking up moves from other present dancers there. Its a nice environment but happens on specific days during the week so its best to find out what days these open jam sessions are.
What I like about the Japanese street dance mentality is that they will find any place to train, jam and session without hesitation or complaint. I remember training once with PIRO and USUKE from Kyoto at a train station near Nara in Uji station. I was like…”what..really here all night?!” they were like “of course, that’s what we usually do.” It wasn’t until I started training and jamming there that I realised dancing all night is so much fun and relaxed and free. The station was pretty warm and there were convenience stores and restaurants open 24hr! Once you have made a few street dance friends its worth asking them what stations are good to train at. Most stations close and have a gate system that locks down the whole area, but some stations tend to have walkways that lead from one end to the other and its here that street dancers get down through the night.
Another awesome station that is readily available for your street dancing needs is Kyoto station. It is very big with many different locations to chose from and open all day and night as it houses the magnificent GRANVIA hotel. All night jamming in a safe and comfortable environment..bliss!!
HEP Osaka in UMEDA is one large mall I know that dancers train around. There is an underground passage way that street dancers usually use over night. Malls are great place to dance in and around as they tend to be near central areas close to local shops and other amenities and are normally enclosed by a roof or perimeter of some sort, good against bad weather conditions. It is not the most popular place to train as there aren’t many open after working hours but the ones that are, are normally filled with dancers enjoying what can sometimes look like a underground, free party!
This monumental colosseum is home to Osaka Hanshin Tigers baseball team and can be reached via, Kujo, Taisho on the Chou line, Dome-mae Chiyozaki station on the Nagahori Tsurumi-ryokuchi line and Dome-mae station on the Hanshin line.
A beautiful site, easy access and 360 degrees of pure street dancing space. Open 24 hours as the lobby is public area and a very popular spot for all night street dance training. Its very close to other stations such as Bentencho and Namba and there are bus access to the Dome (check bus times).
It is open air with a few passageways under connection walkways but there is so much space. The floor is pretty good for dancing in as it doesn’t put too much strain and damage on your shoes although it is very dirty! Still another great spot to dance at and great for video shoots!