Welcome back to another episode of Project Host! For your reading pleasure, I went and checked out Club Acqua in Kabukicho with two lovely and very discriminating Canadian ladies.
My first hurdle was sneaking out of work. Not in the sense that I was playing hooky in order to go carousing with some big-haired men in Kabukicho, but in that I had to get spiffed up in the Kaisha bathroom and then make it down to the lobby without anyone seeing me and discovering that I am actually moonlighting as the White Host Hunter. I successfully manoeuvred may way out of the building and I was safely on my way.
I don't know what it is about Kabukicho, maybe its the smell of sleazy money and fabricated love, but I adore passing under the Kabukicho gates and entering its seedy world. A bit like a twisted modern day tale of making a visit to the Yoshiwara, once you walk through the gates you can be anyone, you can be with anyone, as long as you have enough money to see you through until morning. When walking through Kabukicho you know you've reached Hostland when the billboards displaying glamour shots of attractive boys with high cheekbones and even higher hair start popping up, and when the amount of men wearing sharp suits and sharper shoes hanging around on the street corners increases exponentially. Yes, there is no doubt when you've arrived.
There was a small moment of uncertainty and panic when we passed what I though was Ai but turned out to be its sister club, as I feared we would run into Roses or one of his henchmen and I haven't been returning his calls...
We soon arrived at Acqua and were greeted by an attractive young man with blond candy-floss hair. I asked for a table for three and he asked if we could speak Japanese and whether we had photo ID on us. After assuring him we could and we did, he asked us to wait on a leather sofa. A few minutes later and he returned bearing a coaster with the first time price for 2 hours written on it and showed it to us for our agreement. We then had to show them our IDs before they took us to a table (Ai also required this on their website but not in practice). After we were seated we were given the choice of brandy or shochu and a range of mixers before being given an explanation on the system. We had the option of flipping through their man menu and choosing some choice meat (my god how bad does that sound) but after having a quick peek we decided to leave it up to them and asked to have a range of men paraded before us.
I counted the number of cards I had when I got home later and there were 10, which means we probably had around 5 host changes, with 2 or 3 hosts in each set. About an hour and a half in, one of the managers came by and told us to each choose one host that we fancied to sit with us for the rest of our time there. That done, the three of them came over and situated themselves between us so that we had some one on one time for the last half hour. The host I chose wasn't really my type in the way he dressed, but he was one of the ones who stood out in my mind from earlier and I remembered that it had been fun talking to him. During our one on one time we talked about music, relationships, whether I was mote mote in Canada, my hair and finally, cheating. I would like to point out though, that he brought it up, not me! He asked if people in North America cheat and whether I thought it was more or less than Japan. I asked him whether he thought people in Japan cheat a lot and he said it wasn't so much that they cheat a lot, as there are many many pervs. And then he added that his women were always running around on him and that he couldn't understand why someone would cheat. True story? A line? Who knows. He then showed me some cuts on his knuckles that he got in a fight with another host at the club last week. Apparently the guy "pissed him off". Nice. I wonder if there are host fight rules, like no punches to the face. Gotta preserve that money-maker.
The service in general was pretty good, but not entirely seamless. There were a couple times when we were left alone at our table while the hosts scurried around and although the condensation wiping was attentive, I sometimes reached for my glass and discovered it was being wiped again or was practically empty. When we first sat down they gave us soft blankets to place over our knees, which was a nice touch and I am assuming was for warmth and not to preserve my modesty in a skirt that was not at all modest in its length. The cigarette lighting was also pretty good, although most of the hosts had plastic lighters, unlike their classier versions at Ai who all had expensive gold and silver ones. See how discerning I am getting?! The big downer was the rat. While we were waiting for our first set of hosts to come, we saw a rat climb down a wall that led to an outside door, which was not the right way to start the night off but we quickly forgot about it as we were plied with alcohol.
The interior was lots of white with long black leather sofas and bluish light. It is a decent sized club but probably has less than half the number of hosts that Ai does. There were a couple screens set into the walls playing music videos and the tracks were all hip hop, which gave the place a young hip feel. I don't remember what was playing at Ai, probably because I was blinded by all the sparkles and lights. The hosts all seemed to be in their twenties, but I assume there are a couple older ones that we didn't see. A few were dressed in suits but most of them wore the kind of outfits you see running around Shibuya and one even showed us his tattoos. In general they all had a much younger and more casual feel about them-I saw one across the room with his foot up on the sofa-and a couple times I wasn't sure we were going to make it through the conversation when our host seemed like a newbie and unskilled at conversation. In the end though, most of them were pretty good at what they did. During one set however, we ended up with two strung out hosts. The worse of the two had the biggest blond hair out of everyone (including me) and blue contact lenses that kept swishing around inside his head. They were both slurring their words and were probably smashed, although I think Blondie was on drugs because of the way his eyes keep rolling into the back of his head and the way he licked his lips after telling me I had an impressive rack after I stood up to go to the bathroom.
The conversation at Acqua was good for the most part, although we didn't have much time with each host because of all the changes. It was fun meeting a lot of hosts and some of them were good at keeping the conversation on the up and up (with a little down and down sex talk) but I have to say the boys at Ai (and perhaps because we spent more time with them overall) were flawless in their conversational skills from their puns to their promises of love. The host who initially received us at the beginning of the evening pulled me aside later and explained that they sometimes get customers who say they can speak Japanese but then can't, which makes it really hard on the hosts to converse with them, and so they have to be careful about who they admit to the club. I think this was his way of offering an apology for the way we were received at the beginning.
As the time drew near, our chosen hosts became our escorts out, the option of designating the escort often carries it's own price tag but was included that night, and they carried our purses up to street level. Before leaving the club there had been a little talk of hanging out and going to karaoke with my host and when he asked if I had a cellphone I turned the conversation around like a seasoned Host Hunter: I've got your number so I'll call you honey. Crisis averted. He waved me away into the Kabukicho lights with the order to email him and with my faux promise to do so soon.
All in all a fun evening well spent. The hosts at Acqua are younger on the whole than those at Ai and some of them even told us their stories of moving to Tokyo to make money as a host. I wouldn't say they are wilder, just younger and more inexperienced, which means you feel more like you are hanging out with some cute boys than being taken care of like a princess. Acqua offers a different kind of host, one who seems more like a boy you'd pick up in Shibuya than a seasoned professional. The club itself was fine but was certainly not as dazzling as Ai. Where to next? If anyone wants to suggest a club to go to, I would be more than happy to oblige.
Club Acqua, Kabukicho
(On a five-star scale)
Club decor **
Hosts' fashion ***
System: 5000 yen for 2 hours includes 指名料金 (designation fee)
***Thanks to a couple lovely readers I will be doing away with the stars very soon, well really as soon as I can figure out how to use a computer!