During my stay in Kyoto I participated in the activities of Kyoto University Dance Club (社交ダンス), where I managed to immerse myself into a Japanese college club vibe. Since I’d never danced even a single time before attending the club, I was quite nervous on the first day, and found myself just as clumsy as I expected at the dance practice. Yet learning to dance is not the point of joining a dance club in Kyoto; rather, it was to interact with my Japanese peers on a regular basis so that we both could serve as かけ橋 through which we were able to understand each other’s cultural background better.
The Dance Club holds activities as often as 3 times a week. Each time lasts for 3 hours. I tried to commit as much as possible to the club activities, but I was also busy with schoolwork, so I often ended up going once or twice a week. One thing I found interesting though was the fact that the club claims to have between 20 to 30 members who have signed up for club activities, but almost every single time only those 6 or 7 same members showed up. Occasionally we would be lucky to have others join us but that was pretty rare. One of the club members told me that this phenomenon is quite common among Japanese university circles, where you would expect some members to regularly show up and become the core of the circles while others who rarely show up are labelled ‘ghost members’ (幽霊部員). I’m glad that I didn’t become one of the ghosts.
During the 3 hours of club activity we would practice different forms of 社交ダンス such as Tango, Waltz, and Samba, although I still have difficulties even now in distinguishing them from each other. To be frank, dancing is not my thing, but thanks to the warm-heartedness of my Japanese peers I was able to enjoy the activity sessions as much as I could. They knew I had never had experiences in ballroom dance and my Japanese wasn’t that good, so they treated me with patience and taught me step by step. Although more often than not I still ended up messing up with everything, I do not regret joining the Dance Club, because other members regarded me as a normal, functioning member of the club too. The opportunities to interact with Japanese peers are absolutely the most valuable experiences I’ve had so far. Therefore I highly recommend the KU Amateur Dance Club even if dance is not your thing, and on a side note I’m pretty skeptical that someone is actually worse than me at dancing.
The Dance Club sounds like it was a good experience. Did you find that you speak to the other members at a different level of formality than you speak with those at KCJS?
Wow, Xiaoxi that sounds awesome!! I think its really cool that you joined this circle, especially without any dance experience! It seems like the most important part for you was learning more from your Japanese peers and also the strong sense of community between you and the group, which is really amazing! I’m glad you had such a nice CIP experience!
Even though learning to dance was not your focus, did your experience in the club imbue you with a new appreciation for the art?