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Saturday, May 21, 2016

Did You Know #9 - Dancing Without A License Is Illegal - But Not For Long

Did you know that it is illegal for Japanese clubs to allow their patrons to dance after midnight? Apparently they turn into Gremlins or something.

No… individuals who wanted to dance in the privacy of their own home were NOT breaking the law prior to 2015. This is an entertainment club thing.  

In fact, it was illegal for any type of establishment - bar, restaurant, night club - to allow public dancing on their premises unless said establishment had a license to boogie.

However, even if dance club had a license to thrill, public dancing was supposed to shut down at midnight.

This was the Fueiho Law.

And while this law is about to be changed at some point in time in 2016, at the time of this writing, it has NOT.

Stop shaking your booty. You're breaking the law. I know... it sounds exciting, doesn't it?

I’m no John Travolta, but I do know how to shake my groove thang. Or at least the alcohol that used to fuel me enabled me to not embarrass myself on a Japanese dance floor.

Having been out dancing with more than six, but not more than nine women while in Japan—Japanese and foreigner—I never noticed that there was any sort of curfew re: public dancing, as I can recall sweating my butt off with Noboko until 4AM, and the same with the others—all in different clubs, but all within the Roppongi area of Tokyo.

Drinks were flowing until 2AM, as well, so now I can only assume that what happens in Roppongi stays in Roppongi, and if laws were being broken, then the clubs either didn’t care because they were paying off someone, or they were simply never caught.

It was easier, by the way, to stay up all night in Tokyo, grab some breakfast when McDonalds opened up and then catch the first shinkansen (bullet train) back home rather than spend money on a hotel or Love Hotel… because odds are pretty good that as soon as we left the hot and sweaty confines of a dance club, the alcohol would help make us overly tired for anything other than sleep. Hence McDonald’s coffee and a bento box and some sort of vitamin drink on the Sunday morning train.

Anyhow… where the heck was I? Oh yeah… dancing.

Back after the Allies defeated Japan in WWII, the United States was the chief occupying force, and hoping to avoid stirring up the locals, and to maintain a better grip on their happy, horny GIs stationed there, the American conquerors helped put in place a law in 1948 that lasted for 67-years, to stop the proliferation of illegal dancing in Japan.

Of course, with a lot of happy and horny American GIs around, and most of the young Japanese men hurt or killed during the war, the happy horny Japanese women were very much interested in their new male overlords.

Okay… for many… dance halls were a place were one could find a prostitute… so for poor Japanese women, they could earn some yen from American men who had a yen for dirty dancing, backing poor Japanese Baby into a corner.

The fact that Japanese dance clubs et al are no longer a place where one can pick up a date for the next hour thanks to Japan’s development into a first world nation after the war (thanks to being propped up by the U.S.)… still that damned public dance law existed.

Imagine… you are at Denny's, and you are waiting for your pancakes and waffles to arrive… and you feel like dancing with that hot, blue-haired geriatric over at the next table… so you ask, she says sure, and you begin to dance. Denny’s doesn’t need a license for dancing.

In Japan, that establishment would be breaking the law because it allowed its patrons to dance. Not that one could get pancakes and waffles, anyhow.

As I mentioned, when I was in Japan, the cops didn’t really care about such a weenie thing as illegal dancing… but apparently at some point in time afterwards in the 21st century, they did, thanks to a few celebrities being caught in drug scandals or involved in brawling.

But that’s all over with now…

According to the new dance law, clubs can now legally operate past midnight:
  • IF you are a dance club and have a lighting system brighter than 10 lux, you can apply for a new type of license called Tokutei Yukyo Inshokuten Eigyo;
  • Having the new license allows the club to operate for 24 hours, so club goers can get their money’s worth when taking Ecstasy;
  • Clubs that do not have the minimum requisite lighting system (they are trying to squash out hanky-panky), they are classified as an adult entertainment business, but will have to stop the dancing at midnight;
  • Because the Japanese police have finally achieved success in stopping the Yakuza, they will now have time enough to spend going around from club to club to measure the light strength in the seating areas and dance areas;
  • If a club does NOT serve alcohol after midnight, no new license is required, and they can remain open 24 hours. I’m betting this will reduce brawling amongst its patrons, however…;
  • Just looking at the last point, for patrons no longer able to drink alcohol past midnight, I would assume that illegal narcotic consumption in the form of pills, let’s say, would increase. It’s Japan, you can find anything you want, if you know the right/wrong people.
All I know right now, is that this NEW relaxation of Japan’s anti-dancing law will begin in 2016… I don’t have an exact date yet, but at least we can hope it will be soon enough.

Somewhere with a license to thrill,
Andrew Joseph


  1. What!? No Footloose references? Shaaaaame!!!

    1. Ha! I have never seen Footloose. I would, but nobody backs Baby into a corner. THAT... that I have seen... because Dirty Dancing is such an intriguing title.

  2. Anthony Rice, by comparison had a clean record. The working father of two agreed to accompany his brother Aubrey and two friends to the East Side strip clubs for the younger brother’s birthday in 2009.

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