Andrea Mendoza: K-Pop Dance Aerobics

Although mirrors line the walls of NAS Sports Club, each time that I find myself sitting or stretching idly on the hard, wooden floors before lessons, I feel strangely imperceptible. In a society that targets Seta’s middle-aged (and predominantly female) community, everything suddenly falls into a wonderful routine of blending in through partially transforming mentally into a middle-aged woman from Shiga.
Very little actual K-Pop dancing happens in K-Pop dance class. (a phenomenon entirely comprehensible given that the majority of the class delightfully consists of ojisan and obasan). Small talk is limited to the first five minutes before class, when I usually find myself sitting next to a short woman in her mid-forties who enjoys talking about KARA and Kim Hyun Joong. Our instructor, Karl, walks in with over-sized pants whose inspiration may have derived from a raggedy parachute and begins to stretch, never failing to check on his (again, oversized) baseball cap in the mirror.  With Seungri’s “Strong Baby” blasting in our ears, we immediately feel pumped up for the new KARA dance. We will look like fools for the first forty minutes, and exhausted pop stars for the last twenty. Somehow, though, this is the least of my worries.
I wonder where the man on my right bought his neon orange towel.
More than this, though, I wonder what it is about KARA’s dance that attracts the middle-aged population of Shiga to come to NAS and learn it from a man named Karl whose pants are too big for his small frame and who barely hides his muffled giggles when we visibly lack to ability to move our legs in sync to the song.
If asked about the true identity of my Community Involvement Project, I should have to admit that it is not KPop. Sometimes, I could say that it is NAS Sports Club (where I find myself in at least twice a week, sweating through kick-boxing, zumba, pilates or a variety of embarrassingly difficult aerobic work outs that my host mom has somehow mastered). Generally, however, I would say that this is not me who makes this “project” so “involved”, but Seta’s involved ojisan and obasan who have adopted me into their community that have made this visceral and emotional experience thoroughly enjoyable.

2 thoughts on “Andrea Mendoza: K-Pop Dance Aerobics

  1. Sounds like a great experience and good exercise. In what ways have you found that dealing with oba/ojisan is different than dealing with younger Japanese?

  2. I wouldn’t say that “dealing” with ojisan/obasan is significantly “different” from dealing with people my own age. Of course, it’s necessary for me to use more formal speech, and talking about their husbands, children and jobs /is/ rather discrete from talking about hobbies and majors. At the same time, though, while I often stress that my experience with KPop dance class lacked interaction with people under the age of 35, I did not feel at all alienated from their community.

    (also, for some reason, I’ve been trying to post this comment for a few hours and it keeps coming back to me as being “trash”–I hope it works now)