A trip to WhyNot Japan’s 12th Anniversary Party at the Cheval Nightclub, Osaka
by Ben Lindstrom-Ives
It was late Saturday evening in Osaka, the time was soon to strike 7:00 in the midst of the young night. That very night was the evening in which WhyNot Japan would be celebrating its 12th anniversary party at the Cheval Nightclub in Shinsaibashi. Shinsaibashi along with the Dotombori Canal area of Namba, forms one of the two major entertainment districts of Osaka.
By contrast, the historical center of the city Umeda, forms the ultra modern (CBD) Central Business District of the city, which is home to many of Osaka’s leading banks, office buildings, businesses and department stores. Both Shinsaibashi and Namba in essence represent two completely different worlds in the same amazing, vibrant, and massive metropolis. Both Shinsaibashi and Namba were and continue to be well known for their large concentration of nightclubs, music venues, restaurants, cafes, cinemas, amongst other entertainment venues.
These are the two areas of Osaka where people from all venues of life come to meet and greet, and wind down after often having experienced long and challenging weeks at work. One could say that roughly on a weekly/semi regular basis many Osakans who were working long and hard hours in the numerous office buildings and businesses which are scattered throughout Umeda, often would migrate in a kind of massive exodus from the hustling and bustling concrete urban jungle of Umeda, to the more colorful and lively neighborhoods of Namba and Shinsaibashi.
This highly regular migration of bankers, students, young urban professionals, stockbrokers, doctors, amongst other professionals from Umeda to Shinsaibashi and Namba represented a seemingly necessary pastime in which hard working individuals found themselves having had to find easy ways to ‘escape’ from their highly busy and stressful careers in Umeda, to areas where they knew they could easily kick back, relax, and ultimately enjoy themselves. Afterall, everyone needs a change of scene now and again.
I arrived at the entrance of the Cheval Nightclub just short of 7:00 P.M. approximately at 6:50, and soon I witnessed a literal ‘sea’ of people waiting in line outside to make their entry out of the biting and cold Osaka air, into the Cheval Nightclub. The energy displayed by the crowds seemed to be one that was both highly excited and enthusiastic to partake in the 15th anniversary celebration of WhyNot Japan, but at the same time also eager and anxious to make a quick and efficient exodus from the cold air of the night atmosphere, into the realms of the club space.
Having visited many clubs over the last several years during my previous travels in major international cities such as London, Istanbul, Cape Town, and Amman, I must say that I do not think that I had ever witnessed a crowd as large as this one before! This was without a doubt the largest number of people I had ever seen in a club space in my life.
As I entered the club, I realized that just about every single square inch of the club was occupied by a guest or a club goer!! Very tight spaces indeed were both numerous and widespread throughout Cheval. Not a single unoccupied space could be found. A word to the wise aka a word of caution, you must get over any sort of fear of crowds or claustrophobia you may have, if you choose to partake in festivities such as this! Do not come, if you are not willing to truly embrace the crazy and wild sensation of feeling packed like a sardine in a loud, luminous, talkative, and constantly packed and ever changing atmosphere! One of the first thoughts which came to mind after I entered the club were some memories I had vividly recollected of being caught in very large crowds, during some of my travels abroad.
In one specific memory I vividly remembered being hopelessly lost in the souks and alleyways of Cairo, Egypt a few years ago in the summer of 2014. I suddenly remembered all of the seemingly endless crowds, the smells, the oppressive heat, the closure of restaurants and cafes during the holy month of Ramadan, food vendors who popped in and out of the middle of the streets aggressively trying to sell their products, along with Islamic call to prayer being blasted and emitted from one of the city’s 1,000 plus mosques. Talk about sensory overload!!
This brief one minute trip down memory lane, momentarily made me feel that I had entered a chapter of the Arabian Nights! That being said, however, I had realized after a quick and vivid one minute memory, that I was indeed not in Cairo during a challenging and oppressively hot July day, but rather in a crowded and bustling nightclub in Shinsaibashi, in the midst of the winter season, as the month of January was soon about to come to a close.
Immediately afterwards I soon snapped back to reality, and sought to become more and more engaged in the club atmosphere of which I had entered at that time. During the first hour or so at the club, I was vigorously dodging some of the tighter and more crowded parts of the venue. I soon found myself circulating around the club atmosphere, and here and there I was striking some conversations with many different people whom I had encountered. Some of the people who I met at Cheval were familiar faces whom I had seen earlier at previous WhyNot parties including the Xmas Party at the Owl Nightclub last December. Others whom I had met were very new, and once again came from all walks of life. Some of the people whom I met were students, while others were engineers, doctors, writers, nurses, among other kinds of professionals. Many different stories and new discoveries indeed were made at this time.
The three hours at the Cheval Nightclub passed by at a more gradual sort of rate, than I had experienced before at the previous WhyNot Parties. Time was certainly on my side, as it gave me plentiful time to enjoy the house drinks of the night, and a chance to meet and greet many denizens of Osaka amongst other areas of Japan. I would pass the night enjoying a variety of drinks from Gin and Tonics to Whisky Sours, as I was making efforts to introduce myself to
others, and to try to learn about other people’s stories and experiences. Sushi would also be served during the course of the celebration, a good, tasty, and healthy culinary respite indeed from the several hours of drinking which would take place. I suppose that that passage of time also seemed slower than at other previous parties, as one had to make greater and greater ‘efforts’ to extend oneself to your familiar friends, and at the same time try to establish new and potentially valuable connections with other people amidst the roaring and bustling crowds.
The music that played at the club I recollect was standard electronic music. It did not exactly resemble the famed style of musical groups or musicians such as Daft Punk, or Swedish House Mafia, but it resembled rather earlier sounds which one could have probably heard or recollect in other nightclubs around the world in places such as Marrakech, Helsinki, Moscow, and Ibiza. Nonetheless, the music seemed to have matched the atmosphere of the club and the crowds seemed to be enjoying it at a satisfactory level.
All in all, it was a good and eventful night at the 12th WhyNot Anniversary Party. It was nice to see some familiar faces, make some new friends, to savor in the tasting and eating of sushi, and the drinking and consumption of some of the cocktails and spirits. In conclusion, a good escape indeed!!