Clubs and livehouses in Japan have been heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. There’s all kinds of economic corners one could dig into on this front, but it’s also important to consider how the continued closure of such spaces (or, more recently, how some reopening during times when the number of cases spike in Japan results in a more paranoid scene) damages overall culture in cities such as Tokyo. It’s not great for people either — as the outbreak carries on, it becomes more melancholy to think about fun times out at such venues.
A few Japanese artists have captured this weird nostalgia for nights out in song. Electronic producer tofubeats’ “Club” was created before the novel coronavirus wrecked the live industry, but the song’s slow burn and foggy vibe about the feeling of just seeing what’s happening at a club mutated into a memory of something that seems impossible today (underlined even further by the music video). Rap duo chelmico manage a similar magic on “Disco (Bad dance doesn’t matter),” a sturdy dance-pop number capturing the now-fuzzy memory of clubbing. Watch the video below.
Those synth ripples at the very start set the scene — this is a song about reflecting back on going out, rather than capturing a moment in the present tense. Seeing as chelmico’s new album “Maze” (not like a labyrinth, like the Japanese word for mix), out on Aug. 26, was largely recorded in the spring when the pandemic was at its height, it makes sense that they would pine for hyper-specific details of going out, like sticky floors and surly bartenders. Maybe it has just been a year cooped up at home, but when chelmico mention the thrill of missing the last train and just enjoying a DJ — even if their moves aren’t all that good, but who cares — but hearing the pair reminisce over a once-common pastime hits harder now.