the rose bar

Friday is my busiest teaching day, and it’s the busiest teaching day for Richard and Bob as well. Since we’re all pretty exhausted by the end of the week Friday tends to be our night out, though on a low-key scale. This last Friday we headed over to Honmachi, the station just up from Shinsaibashi, and we explored an area that Richard and I had wanted to explore since seeing the Osaka Daigaku Men’s Choir at Oaru Osaka Hall. The area turns out to be a bit like New York’s SoHo in its earlier years, though it’s a somewhat more commercial. In any event there are dozens of really smartly dressed restaurants, a real Italian café, some great bars, and lots of used clothing shops and boutiques. It manages to have a neighborhood feeling about it, even in the midst of giant contemporary apartment blocks, and the locals all seem to be in their late twenties and early thirties, unlike Shinsaibashi where the locals could all be our students. We ate at a Nepali restaurant, which had “fucking delicious” curry, and then we had some shochu at a nearby bar that also offered soft-serve ice cream and a relaxed kind of shaggy modern atmosphere.

After this we wandered through America-mura, the youth-market neighborhood where you can find Goth shops, used clothing stores, and lots of hip-hop and reggae oriented merchandise. And lots of youth too. Don’t forget the youth! And, since we were in the area, we didn’t forget about the Rose Bar, which we’ve been too visit a few times now. The Rose Bar is a tiny bar located on the fourth floor of one of the several dozen buildings packed full of bars, restaurants, and “other” entertainment in the Shinsaibashi area. We like the Rose Bar because the atmosphere is really casual, the owner is nice, and there’s a pleasant mix of Japanese and foreigners. And they play good music. In fact, the DJ who was spinning on Friday night was playing pure, all-out, ass-thumping music. It’s easy to forget how vibrant the commercial hip-hop scene was back in the mid-/late- nineties when the Neptunes and Timbaland were just beginning to dominate the airwaves. I think many older listeners, myself included, were too busy bemoaning the death of politics in hip-hop (clearly a misplaced obituary, if there ever was one) to give a listen to the sheer dance-power produced into these record grooves. Although the early 2000s were also relatively bleak for commercial hip-hip there’s still a lot of amazing production out there, though its really depressing how limited the play list is on commercial hip-hop stations. In fact, it’s downright criminal. Give a listen to late-night WFMU, or KPOO on the web and you can get a much better idea of what’s going down with (good) contemporary hip-hop. Which is all a long way of saying that I had a great time drinking, relaxing, and listening to music at the Rose Bar on Friday night.

I think Bob and Richard are beginning to get sick of all of the photos that I take of them. But can you blame me? Pure photogenesis!
The owner of the Rose Bar. On the left. In the plaid hat. Most excellent photo taken by the most excellent Bob P.
Late night at the Rose Bar. And after that, a late train home.

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