As a customer I spent several years photographing the unique ‘Bebop (or 'UK Jazz') Dance' scene in Tokyo, imported from London in the late '80s by some intrepid Japanese dancers. It was centred around the legendary BeBopSquare event in the now defunct club Fai on Tokyo's Aoyama Dori. 

35mm BeBop is from a time when I had just begun shooting in these intense, dimly-lit club spaces vibrating with the heaviest, most incredible jazz and latin music. These images are grabs from a cheap supermarket scanner. They are raw and grainy, which seems an appropriate reflection of the rough edges and raw energy of those sweaty nights of a scene at its peak. Despite their imperfection, or maybe even because of it, I will forever associate these images with happy times - except getting kicked in the head a few times by spinning feet perhaps - and I made many treasured friends and memories in creating them. 

Tokyo Jazz Diary gives a further window into the energy of a scene in its natural habitat: the club dancefloor. 

I concluded the project with the staged portraits in Tokyo Jazz Document, in which dancers were asked to simply dance while I photographed, and these are a a document of 3 generations of Bebop/UK Jazz dancers from this unique scene at a point in its life when it seemed to be changing for good. 

PHILIP ARNEILL

Photography portfolio site of Belfast-born, long-term Tokyo-based documentary photographer, Philip Arneill, now living in Dublin, Ireland.
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