Friday, April 21, 2006

Back in Vancouver, Poi DVDs in my own hands!

IMG_0982.JPGAfter a very long plane trip, and a couple days of Jet Lag, I am sorting things out in Vancouver. There are even more cherry blossoms here than Tokyo, I'm happy to say.

There is also a lot to sort out. I have months of work to get done in two months of time, and I don't even have a home (eep). I'm hoping to launch the new site within a week, and then I can start rolling out all the new videos and photos :)

IMG_0986.JPGAND... I have Poi DVDs! They're gorgeous. They radiate love. I can touch them. I can open them. All that work. That ridiculous amount of work... and now they're done. They're in boxes. So many boxes. Can I build a desk with all those boxes? I need one. They are available on and Quick. Go. Order one right now. Yes, of course I mean you. Think of it in terms of coffees and it's an easy decision. Think, "why, that's just ten coffees" and go order one before you have second thoughts. Don't worry, you can have a coffee anyway, afterwards, it's just a good way to make a decision.

IMG_0988.JPGOh, and this is my life. It's packed into boxes, which I get to stack the other boxes on top of. I know, I know, you're saying, "but Nick, I thought poi artists were rich and had swank apartments to go home to, no?"


But we're rich in friends, us poi artists, and with my bank statements burried so far under everything else, I have a good reason not to look at them :)

Monday, April 10, 2006

Japanese Poi Event: Almost Mythical

IMG_0964.JPGOn Sunday night I went to "En," a poi event organized by Yuta, Nao, and other members of the Tokyo spinning community.

When I first heard about the "poi event," I didn't know what to think. A fire festival, sure. A pagan dance party in the desert, of course! But an indoor, no-fire-allowed, cover-charge-to-get-in, "poi event?"

Then I started to hear the details: A contest (that I had to help judge, eek), a magic show, a DJ, a bar, prizes... it all sounded so strange, so... foreign. Would it work? Do people do things like this in Tokyo?

4:30pm: We show up at the space: a huge yoga studio in niced part of Tokyo. 15 minutes later a dozen smiling, friendly, perky people are carrying in boxes, gear, decorations, food, beer, spinning toys, blacklights, and other party related objects and setting up the space. It was like watching the A-Team make one of their escape vehicle contraptions. I started humming the theme music.

IMG_0962.JPG6:00pm: The crowd starts showing up. I think we had about 50-60 guests by the end, plus 15 or so "staff." (I never asked how much they were charging, but yes, people were actually paying to get in.) The space was just gorgeous and good music was blasting out of big speakers.

6:30pm: The contest commences, and very quickly I get into the vibe. There was a very supportive crowd and heartfelt dances with LED toys. I did my best to judge although I really didn't know what to put in the "comments" field. During the intermission there was a magic show. Yuta was the final entry and did his choreographed dance that you can see with fire on his japan poi website. I have to say, he's really good, and not just technically good. He's got a real sense of dance and showmanship (aka Mojo). I sooo have to get back to practice to keep up with him! :)

IMG_0966.JPGAfter Yuta there was a break and then, eek, my performance. I'd been really nervous as I've been feeling out of practice and injured and etc., and I didn't have anything prepared at all... but 20 minutes before I went on, a little voice told me to just have fun and that improvising can work out better than a choreographed performance anyway, as it can be straight from the heart, so that's what I did, and I had a blast. Don't get me wrong, I do need to get back to practice, but I learned something very important about heart and spirit and confidence.

After me, there were many more performances: Belly dance (with those incredible wings), modern dance, puppet shows, VJ Light show, and more. They finished with a wonderful ceremony of awarding the prizes, with everybody saying what sounded like nice things but I don't speak japanese.

At 9:30pm they started ushering people out.

At 10:00pm it was like the event never happened.

My mind is still reeling.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Long Overdue Update about TOP SECRET LOCATION...

IMG_0916.JPG....ok, fine, it's Japan!

(And following is a bit of a long blog entry. It's usually not a good thing to do in blogs, but I've been behind in posting, as my efforts have once again been sucked into website/DVD stuff...)

I landed here March 21st. Tokyo is amazing, although I would never, ever, choose to live here unless I had a really good reason to.

IMG_0773.JPGThe city is a maze. Just looking at the subway map is like trying to read your fortune in a bowl of spaghetti. Fortunately I have my Canadian friend Liz and some wonderful Japanese poi spinners to show me around.

I imagined a forest of skyscrapers, but it's actually quite spread out, with lots of middle density sprawl. They don't zone in Asia I hear, Tokyo included, so you get a funny mix of neighborhoods, with factories next to schools next to malls next to old homes, next to huge apartment blocks, etc. IMG_0779.JPGEconomic factors still lead to things like FORTY BLOCKS OF HIGH-END SHOPPING (where you can buy a pair of high-fashion ripped jeans for $250), and other such neighborhoods, but it's still much more disorganized than cities in N. America.

Oh, and everywhere you go there are vending machines. Thousands upon thousands of vending machines. Drinks and cigarettes only as it's rude to walk and eat.

After orienting myself and hanging out with Liz for a few days, IMG_0808.JPGI met Yuta and Nao at Yoyogi Park, where the jugglers and poi spinners play on the weekends. I have to say that the community here in Tokyo is one of the friendliest and talented I've come across. Yuta is an amazing spinner and is certainly as skilled as me, and there are some other spinners here who are learning at blazing speeds, often being quite creative in their approach. If I don't get back to full-on practice I'll be here to TAKE workshops next time. :)
It's been great meeting Yuta and we've doing some little video projects (to be released later). I came here with some big plans, thinking that Yuta and I would have a month to work on videos full time (he just finished University a couple weeks before I came). Unfortunately, he had to take a very full time job which, combined with the amount of time it takes to just get around Tokyo, means we'll have to hold back on some of the plans for now (I'm spending 2-3 hours a day and $15-20 on the trains alone). With a little luck we'll both go to Thailand this winter for "poi camp," hee hee hee.

...and as usual, life has it's little difficulties. I thought I'd have internet upon arrival, but it didn't turn out that way. In fact, there isn't even a phone at Liz's place. This led to some complications communicating with Alex, my brilliant designer friend, so the website is continuing to take forever. This plus more complications with getting the DVDs shipped, plus etc. etc. etc. led me to a few days of feeling a little despondent about my economic situation. Discovering a good place to go for runs is quickly lifting my mood, and reading about the history of Japan reminded me of how hard most people's lives have been, and that I'm very lucky to even have the opportunity to TRY to pursue my dreams.

And I learned a good lesson from the internet difficulties as well. When we proved that there was no signal to pick up from Liz's place, I started looking around for random hot-spots. At first I was sending and receiving email from outside a home-and-garden centre on a busy street ten blocks away. Then I found I could get a signal from the second floor of the local mall. Then I was delighted to get a signal beside the church just outside (but only if cuddle up in just the right spot), and finally I found that I can get a signal if I wave my computer around in the air at the top of Liz's front door! Not exactly the desk I wish to have, but better than nothing. :P

IMG_0912.JPGMeanwhile, we've had two workshops, I've met loads of wonderful people, I've been taken many exciting places, and I'm dying to get home (not that I have one yet). I hope to the poi gods in heaven that I can work out a "home" for May and June, because I really need one to rest up, get back into shape, and refocus on rehabilitating my shoulder. Traveling on a budget can make it challenging to keep up certain routines.

I'll report again before I leave for Canada. If you happen to be IN Canada (vancouver), please keep an ear open for places to live!IMG_0918.JPG