Para Para

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Para Para (パラパラ?, "Para-Para" or "ParaPara") is a synchronized group dance that originated in Japan. Unlike most club dancing and rave dancing there are specific synchronized movements for each song much like line dancing. Para Para is said to have existed since the early 1980s when European countries started selling Italo disco and Euro disco, and in the mid- to late 1970s New Wave and synthpop music in Japan, but did not achieve much popularity outside of Japan until the late '90s.

Para Para is strongly associated with Eurobeat. Dave Rodgers, a highly-recognized[citation needed] Eurobeat producer, has described Para Para as the only way to dance to Eurobeat, which is usually "so fast".[1]

Description[edit]

Para Para dancing consists of mostly arm movements; very little lower body movement is involved save for perhaps moving one's hips or stepping in place (although a few routines require more detailed leg motions). It has been speculated that it is a descendant of the traditional Bon Odori dance, however there is no known link.[citation needed] The dance originated in the early 1980s when men working in the VIP room in clubs would choreograph dances to impress women.[citation needed] The dance style then grew from there. The dances are performed to fast, upbeat music such as Eurobeat and Eurodance. Fans of Para Para dancing often call themselves "Paralists".[citation needed]

Variants[edit]

Some variants of Para Para dancing are TechPara (which would be danced to hyper techno and TraPara (which would be danced to trance). This is also known as Torapara due to the word trance being written as toransu (トランス?) in Japanese. There are also people who make their own Parapara routines to their favorite Eurobeat songs. These Parapara routines are called Oripara . Oripara is typically a reserved word for routines that are not made by famous parapara choreographers or taught at parapara club events.

Official vs. maniac[edit]

The term "official" in the parapara world describes routines made by certain clubs/choreography groups in Japan. A non-exhaustive list of official club events are Starfire, SEF, 9LoveJ, and Twinstar. These routines are danced and learned by most people in the community. In a response to official routines, people have made their own routines in Japan called "maniac" routines. This movement started in the late 1990s with clubs like Hibiya Radio City and Tottori Eleven choreographing their own routines. In addition to the club events mentioned, other famous maniac club events that existed were Medusa, Area, Joy, AXOS, Bless, and TMD. As of 2008, club events in Japan have not choreographed many maniac routines and this movement has basically stopped. However, some official club events like Starfire and SEF still go on today. Some paralists in the community still prefer maniac to official routines though and continue to have small events like Ravenous that play songs which have maniac dances to them.

Choreographer groups[edit]

There are a few choreographer groups that have stood out in the history of ParaPara.

Shishou Gundan (師匠軍団?) is a long-running group of choreographers that has had many members. It is unclear when the group first began, but it is assumed to be in the early 1990s. The team had the most impact in Twinstar where they choreographed most of the ParaPara routines. There were many members in the 1990s, but the most famous members were Gori Shishou (ゴリ師匠?), Arai Shishou (新井師匠?), Morita Shishou (堀田師匠?), Haru Shishou (ハル師匠?), and Yan Shishou (ヤン師匠?). Their real names in that order, with the exception of Yan Shishou (ヤン師匠?) because his real name is unknown, are Keita Fukaya, Takashi Arai, Taisuke Hotta, and Haruki Takahashi. All of these members listed appear in Twinstar club videos at least once. As of 2011, however, the only members of Shishou Gundan (師匠軍団?) are Banchou (番長?), Ryohei (りょうへい?), and Inocchi (いのっち?), who are all currently choreographers of Starfire.[2] Their real names are Yoshihiro Yamada, Ryohei Yamaoka, and Katsuyoshi Inomata.

T-RREX is also a long-running official choreographer group. The initials stand for Twinstar, Rie, Richie, Xenon which refers to when T-RREX was started. However, the most famous and long-running members are Ryohei (りょうへい?), Inocchi (いのっち?), and Shintaro (しんたろう?). They mainly make choreography for the club event StarFire these days because Twinstar closed in 2003. As of 2010, Shintaro (しんたろう?) has not been active in the ParaPara community though and does not dance ParaPara much anymore. It is unclear if Shintaro (しんたろう?) is still in T-RREX.

Team SEF is another long-running official choreographer group. They strictly choreograph for the club event SEF. The name "Team SEF" wasn't popular until the SEF Gold club videos were first released around 2004. The members around that time were Ichi, Omami, Rena, Yano, Shingo, Kahori, and possibly Satoko. After velfarre closed in 2006, almost all of the members were replaced when the SEF event changed names to SEF Deluxe. The members as of 2013 are Uga, Masae, Manami, Rumine, Kaihei, Kouki, and Kei.[3]

Typical ParaPara club event[edit]

In any given week, there are multiple ParaPara events in Japan. A typical ParaPara club event begins the first 30 minutes by playing either Italo-Disco, Dance, or other genres besides Eurobeat. Usually there are not many people that come during the first 30 minutes, so this is why it is done. After the first 20 or 30 minutes, depending on the number of people in the club, danceable music starts. Depending on the event, the first danceable songs played are different. For example, if one was at an event where the DJs played only Eurobeat songs from the 1990s, then the first songs would be from 1990-1991. If one were at a more official/modern event like SEF or StarFire, the songs would probably start around 1998-1999, when the 3rd ParaPara boom began. In most events, the songs have some sort of progression by year released, continuing until the end of the club event. Some events however just play whatever they feel like and may start playing songs from 2006 for example. There are also some events that play Techno as well as Eurobeat. In these events, there are rarely people that dance both ParaPara and TechPara. Most people sit out one or the other, depending on what routines they know. At most club events, there is also a lesson (講習会?) where new ParaPara routines are taught. This is a very important part of a club event because without club lessons, there might not be new ParaPara routines. A lesson is usually taught in 15 or 20 minutes. During a lesson, the new routine is danced first with music. After that, with the help of a commentator to give counts, the dancer slowly dances each part of the routine in order to help people learn it without music. After this is done, the routine is danced for a final time with music. After the lesson, there are two or three more sets of songs played until the event ends.

Club Videos[edit]

Club videos are an important part of ParaPara, but their importance has changed over the years. The first ParaPara known club video to ever be released was released by Avex Trax as a promotional VHS on March 21, 1994 called ParaPara Kyouten 0 (パラパラ教典 0?).[4] After that, many club videos were released as people were not able to film lessons in the 1990s. They also became highly desirable commodities to some people because lessons were almost impossible to find before 2004-2005 and many different dancers perform routines. It is important to note though that these videos are not sold commercially and are generally only distributed at only one event, which makes them extremely rare and impossible for foreigners to see. Because of these reasons, random people began to sell club videos, mainly DVD copies, online on auction websites like Yahoo! Auctions Japan and Mobaku.jp. A full series of SEF Gold for example would usually sell for about 5,000 yen while a much longer series like Xenon would sell for 9,000 yen or more. As of 2009 however, with the decline of ParaPara, this has basically stopped. However, a project that began on March 9, 2013 on YouTube called ParaPara Open Source Project has attempted to solve the problem of the rarity of club videos by uploading them to the public.[5] Club videos released since 2009 have become less and less important as some people have began to upload lessons mainly to video-sharing websites like YouTube. Because of this, club events like StarFire have at least one routine on a club video that has never been taught as a lesson. In the 2010s, club videos are not released as much anymore either with new DVDs only being distributed by StarFire and SEF every 5–6 months. This is a sharp difference from 1994-1995 when there over a hundred club videos released across Japan in only two years.

List of notable clubs[edit]

List of notable official club events[edit]

  • Hyper Star Energy (~1994-2003) at Twin Star
  • Xenon (~1994-1997) at Xenon in Shinjuku
  • Area (1995-1998) at Area in Roppongi
  • 9LoveJ (1998-2010?) mostly in Shibuya
  • Super Euro Flash [SEF] (1998-2000) at Velfarre
  • SEF Mach!! (2001-2004) at Velfarre
  • SEF Gold (2004-2006) at Velfarre
  • SEF DX (SEF Deluxe) (2007–present) at Xross in Tokyo and presently at Maharaja Roppongi
  • Starfire (2004–present) at Area until 2005 and 2009–present at club Pasela in Ginza, Tokyo
  • B-1 Dynamite!! (late 2005–present) presently at Roppongi Studio Forum, hosted by Starfire

List of notable maniac club events[edit]

  • Medusa (~2001-2002), which is considered to be the most official of maniac choreography groups.
  • Joy (~1998-2008) in Ibaraki Prefecture
  • TMD (~2000-2008), which was an entertainment event that was marketed towards gays and featured drag queens as guests. TMD also has the largest volume of ParaPara videos ever released (over 60).

In popular culture[edit]

  • The Japanese video game company Konami has released a series of video games called ParaParaParadise as part of its Bemani series of music-based games. The games feature an octagonal platform with motion detecting sensors above it. Players must trigger the sensors by moving their arms (or other body parts) under the sensors when the corresponding arrow reaches the top of the screen placed at the front of the platform.
  • Para Para Sakura, a film starring Aaron Kwok, features some Para Para dancing. The theme song for the film, "Para Para Sakura", is not related to any form of Para Para based music.
  • In one episode of the anime Dragon Ball GT, Goku, his granddaughter Pan, their friend Trunks, and even the robot Giru are put under a Para Para-type dance by the three Para Para Brothers.
  • In the anime Super Gals!, Para Para dancing is a popular pastime for the main character Kotobuki Ran.
  • In the video game Rumble Roses XX, one of the penalty games of Queen's Match is Para Para dancing. The girl who loses is forced to perform the dance and depending on the costume the player chose, the girl may have a positive, neutral, or negative reaction.
  • Para Para dancing is featured heavily in the 2006 Japanese dorama Gal Circle. Many of the episodes revolve around it and nearly all of the major characters belong to a gal circle that is dedicated to it.
  • K-pop girl group Kara created a rendition of the Para Para dance (also known as the "KARApara") for their fourth Japanese single "Go Go Summer!".
  • The eighth opening to the anime Detective Conan, "Koi wa Thrill, Shock, Suspence" by Rina Aiuchi, features the main character, Edogawa Conan, performing a Para Para dance to the song.

Current trends[edit]

In April 2005, the Para Para dance for "Dragostea Din Tei" was aired on the show SMAP×SMAP in Japan (the same program which started the '98 boom). The Para Para Paradise video series has since been replaced by the Gazen Para Para!! series of CDs and DVDs marketed to younger teens using popular ganguro models from Egg magazine. However, the boom has ended[citation needed] and Avex Trax continues to promote Para Para through its Super Eurobeat compilation series.

As of 2010, Avex Trax has stopped production of all commercial parapara videos. Currently, the community learns routines from people who film the choreographers teaching the dances at club events. The lessons are most commonly found on YouTube.

As of 2011, the only official club events that are active are SEF and Starfire. 9LoveJ stopped playing eurobeat and hyper techno around the end of 2010.

Outside of Japan[edit]

The United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Finland, France, Taiwan, Spain, Chile, Scandinavia, Brazil, and other countries outside of Japan have an active fanbase doing refilms on the Internet.[citation needed] These fans have circles and groups who perform at various gatherings, mainly anime conventions.[citation needed] Some of the non-Japanese paralists have been able to travel to Japan to perform at large Para Para gatherings.[citation needed]

In the United States, Geneon Entertainment released the Para Para MAX US Mix series of CDs, which contain remixes of anime theme music from Neon Genesis Evangelion, Pokémon, Magic Knight Rayearth, and many other different anime productions. Volumes 1, 2, and 3 were released in 2005. Geneon also held contests to promote the CD and its anime series. 2005's contest was held at Otakon on 20 August 2005. Geneon's efforts failed to expand the reach of Para Para in the United States. Regardless of this, Geneon released a Para Para instructional DVD called ParaPara MAX: The Moves 101, featuring several well-known United States paralists.[who?] The DVD did not sell well due to an exclusive sales agreement with Media Play, Sam Goody and Suncoast Motion Picture Company, which soon went out of business. After the Anime Fusion Tour's conclusion in the summer of 2006, Yoko Ishida's management changed, which lead to the end of Geneon's promotion of Para Para in the United States.

Between the years of 2006 and 2007, there was a little para para music hype in Germany and Austria by the band Shanadoo which danced para para in some of their music video clips.

Outside of Japan, there has never been a commercial parapara release from Avex Trax, who licenses most Eurobeat. This reason for this fact is presumed to be either that Avex Trax does not contractually give international licenses to Eurobeat producers or that Avex Trax does not think that they will make money from foreign parapara releases.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

  • SUPER EUROBEAT@Web Official Super Eurobeat series website
  • 超然パラパラ!! Official 超然パラパラ!!(Chouzen ParaPara!!) website
  • Eurobeat Prime contains information about many eurobeat albums
  • ParaParaMania A long-running CGI-based ParaPara video database section of a website, created by Yuuto Matsumoto
  • ParaPara Lovers A ParaPara video database website created by John Bohne
  • PARAer An old, not updated HTML-based ParaPara video database possibly created by Mute (real name unknown).