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Okinawa clubs look to fresh start

By: Yoshie Makiyama

Date Posted: 2004-10-28

Three Okinawa City clubs are heating things up to get customers back to their dance floors.

As the year winds down, Club Else, Club Pyramid and Club Neo Manhattan are introducing their unique characters to customers who have been away from them since the off limits effected on April 3 of this year.

Club Neo Manhattan has the longest history of all. Since it was first introduced in 1980 as “Club Manhattan”, this club has continuously played rock music. Due to the trend of hip hop and reggae throughout Japan, there are seldom clubs featuring mainly rock music. There’s rock at bars where live bands play, but to dance with rock is another story. Club Neo Manhattan is definitely “a go” place for rock lovers.

“It’s easy to change our style to up-to-date music,” said DJ Wataru Tsujimot at Club Neo Manhattan, “but we are trying to do our best not to give in. Rock has been the main feature of this club since it was established long time ago, although we do play other music like Hip Hop and Techno here and there. We want people to know that if you want to dance with rock, here we are,” he said. As matter of fact, it has longtime fans, many in their 40’s, still coming back to its dance floor enjoying the memory of the good old days. (This club will celebrate its 15th anniversary next month after changing its name to Club “Neo” Manhattan.)

Club Neo Manhattan opens at 6p.m. from Wed to Sun. Admission is a “buy one drink”, starting $5.00 at the door. Every Thursday is “The Night of Rock”, where you only hear the rock music throughout the night.

‘The Sphinx’ is a symbol of Club Pyramid on Route 330 between Foster PX gate and Kadena Gate 2. It is the largest club in Okinawa. It began with disco music in 1988, shifting to hip hop, R & B and salsa in the mid 90s. By the late 90s, Club Pyramid was playing house and techno, and just this month back to hip hop, reggae, R&B and salsa again. The music changes from time to time at Club Pyramid to reflect trends of the times.

“Our club has the most powerful sound system in Okinawa and beautiful spot lights, we are confident that we are the best club throughout the island,” said Shinji Isa, manager of Club Pyramid. “We used to have customers standing in lines outside the building waiting to get into our club, which allows over 1,000 people, when we were playing hip hop and R&B. I want to have that phenomena back again,” Isa said.

The club opens at 6 p.m. on Wed to Sun. Thursday night is Ladies Night. Between 6p.m. to 11p.m., women receive free admission and men pay $15. After 11p.m., women’s admission goes to $10. Friday and Saturday are free admission for women and $15 for men. Soft drinks are free at Club Pyramid. This system will be in effect until the end of the year.

Prior to Club Pyramid’s music change, the biggest hip hop club in Okinawa was Club Else. The building used to house two clubs, Club Tunnel on the 1st floor and Disco New York New York on the second in 1990’s. To make the club bigger, they combined the two clubs into one four years ago.

Before the latest off limits, the club was packed with huge crowds every Thursday and Saturday night. The manager of Club Else, Kouichiro Maedomari says “We want people to know we are still here and ready to serve again. All of our staff is really waiting for this club packed with crowd. We want everybody to come out, enjoy our music and have a great time with us.”

Maedomari also says, “A lot of places play hip hop now, making a lot of competition for us, but I strongly believe that people who come to us can enjoy the music, atmosphere and even ‘feel at home’. If they come once, they will see the difference. ”

Club Else also opens at 6p.m. Happy Hour is 6p.m. to 9p.m. and admission is free. Thursday is Super Ladies Night. Women come in by midnight receive free admission. After midnight the price is ¥500. Men have a $10 admission all night. Other nights are ¥500 for women and $10 for men after happy hour, drinks not included.

Despite difficult circumstances, (a midnight curfew lasted four years in late 90’s and the off limits earlier this year) Club Neo Manhattan, Club Pyramid and Club Else welcome Americans back and say they will continue to guarantee 100% satisfaction. To go to the clubs, look for the big Sphinx alongside Route 330 between Camp Foster and Kadena Gate 2. All three clubs are located in this area.

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