As much as I feel like I am coming to have a very special and serious relationship with Kabukicho, on Friday night I strayed. It was all so impulsive and the flashy disco ball sending specks of light onto different turf too irresistible. In short, we ended up at a club in Roppongi. Player's Club Dios to be precise.
The brain child of former King of Hosts, Reiji, Club Dios claims to take all the risk out of a night at the host club by having up front fees and none of the ridiculous hidden charges that come with designating a host or naming a particular host to carry your fake Chanel to the door at the end of an evening while you promise to write. There is a cute little cartoon strip on Dios' website that instructs first-timers on how to "enjoy" getting their club cherry popped, including how to announce that it's your first time and that you were referred by the website. Doing so gets you two hours of shochu or brandy for 3000 yen, which is the cheapest deal I've had so far. Needless to say, I had the line down like a pro by the time we arrived.
The interior was lush and as my friend remarked with a sigh of relief, rat-free. White leather banquettes, dark mirrors and sparkling lights greeted our Acqua-wearied souls. We were relieved of our coats at the door, something that had not been done at either Ai or Acqua. The first host to come over and sit with us was a naive-faced guy called "Jeff" who had spent 2 years in Seattle studying English. His English was actually very good but I had to resist the urge to smack him when he joked to another host several minutes in that he was getting a free English lesson. I'm not an English teacher during the day (not that there's anything wrong with that) and I sure as hell am not one in my private life but I kept that nugget of a thought to myself and tried to keep our conversation in Japanese, after all, we were leaving the other hosts out of the conversation. But really, I would rather have to say Pardon a couple times than have my night at a host club spoiled by having to speak in English slower than I prefer. I know I'm a bitch.
"Jeff" stayed with us most of the night and he was definitely the club's bitch, relegated to fetching towels, lighting cigarettes (crappy plastic lighter BTW) and escorting me to the bathroom. He was a nice guy though, and would certainly be a comfort to any foreign customers who can't speak Japanese. For the next couple hours 8 or 9 other guys were paraded by our table, but without what seemed like any kind of system or order, although I know several of them were fairly new at the club. I've got to say, despite the gorgeous interior, the hosts were boring. There was no sex talk, hardly any flirtation and most of the guys didn't know how to make conversation and I found myself asking the questions (and internally the really big one: why the fuck aren't these guys hosting me?"). Looks wise, they were a lot classier on the whole than Acqua, with everyone in suits. There were a few Classic Hosts with bouffant hair, but on the whole they were fairly standard issue and I don't recall thinking any one was particularly hot.
Dios has to get big props for the Man Menu however, which was a portable touch-screen with internet access. This allowed us to scope out the club's flavours and know each and every host's blood type before they even got to the table. We could have called some specific guys over (no charge) but decided to just let them come as they would.
The big bonus of the evening, which made me feel like my 3000 yen was well spent, was the show that happens only on Friday and Saturday. It was more of a dance-medley extravaganza really. There was some frenetic dancing to what could have been J-pop or electronic music, I'm not really sure, ballet-esque comedy and some old-fashioned Japanese hip hop. At some points the guys were in suits with no shirts, the next moment they were shirtless and even further on, they were in tights. It was hilarious (and meant to be funny too so no one told the 2 whities off for laughing like maniacs). Unfortunately, only about half of the performers were hosts, the others were "back up dancers for famous musicians", the last two words of which I do not believe for a second.
After the show ended, a couple older and seemingly more experienced hosts came over and their confidence was refreshing. However, as we noticed that the last choo choo train out of Roppongi was fast-approaching we asked for the cheque before our time was up. While someone was fetching it, a couple more hosts came over and we finally had a semi-interesting group, which was such a waste as we had already asked for the cheque. The King then came over and asked us to choose 2 guys we liked and frankly, I couldn't remember one from the other so I brazenly pointed at the 2 guys nearest to me who I had just met in the last 3 minutes. They were obviously surprised but I couldn't remember one snippet of vaguely interesting conversation that I'd had all night (excepting that with my friend). The cheque then came and everyone moaned that we were leaving so soon but really, they were just late in coming to the table. The 2 guys I had chosen immediately set about trying to get my number and mail address, which I am learning to avoid like a pro. It's hard to be smooth when they don't offer up their contact deets, but I gave them the "I don't use my keitai for email despite not knowing one soul in Japan who doesn't" and finally the I'll call you. It got a bit awkward as we were trying to leave and finally had to just stand up and make a move. We were then escorted to the elevator by 4 or 5 hosts, inexperienced "Jeff" jumping out of the elevator at the last minute upon realizing he wasn't supposed to come down to street level with us.
The other customers were all young except for one maybe, and we managed to peep on another group of first-timers, one of whom had to be pushed into the club by her eager friend. What surprised me the most was the number of single parties, just one pretty girl in her twenties with 3 or 4 hosts. These girls were obviously regulars but somehow I can't imagine going to a host club by myself the first couple of times. After that however, why not go for a couple drinks with someone who will act as your personal bartender, both in fixing you drinks and in listening to whatever you have to say? Those girls obviously aren't getting that in other areas of their lives.
Club Dios' system does seem more transparent than others but there is still a charge for designating a host (presumably one of the 2 chosen at the end of the first visit) and a hefty 30% tax after a certain hour. It seems fine to drink the house bottle in later visits but of course there is also a menu with prices that gouge.
The show was truly the winning point, as was the classy interior, but if there isn't funny and interesting conversation, it feels rather repetitive and tiring after a while. A couple of our hosts remarked how dangerous Kabukicho is and made a few other disparaging comments about the area. As with the previous club, I was very quick to say that it was our first time at a host club, and as the night wore on I couldn't help wishing we were in Kabukicho, even with hosts of questionable sobriety, where there isn't such a conscious effort to make everything so squeaky clean it becomes sterile and uninteresting. A sister club of Ai is next on the list, I've come to the conclusion that clubs outside of Kabukicho aren't worth a damn.
Player's Club Dios, Roppongi
(On a five-star scale)
Club decor *****
Hosts' fashion ***
Yes I am still using my ghetto star system. Shout-out to Nate who has tried to help me out with some host icons, but due to my total incompetence when it comes to computers, we will have to stick with this for just a little longer.