The neighborhood that invented the Obon Jovi dance is back with a new set list of rock and disco hits.

Every summer, communities across Japan hold summer festivals that feature bon odori, or bon dances. Tokyo’s Nakano district is no exception, and that just so happens to be the part of the city where SoraNews24 ace reporter Mr. Sato lives.

Mr. Sato, oddly enough, had never attended his local bon dance. They say you never realize how much you’ll miss something until it’s gone, though, and for the last two years, the Nakano bon dance was severely scaled back, held in a small facility with capped attendance. This year, though, it’s returned to its regular outdoor venue in Nakano Central Park, welcome to one and all, and so Mr. Sato decided it was time to finally take part in-person.

It was more than just community pride, however, that had Mr. Sato wanting to go. The customary musical accompaniment for bon dances is cheerful old-school folk songs, like in the video below.

▼ This song, “Tankobushi,” has roots that go back more than a hundred years.

In 2018, though, Nakano started doing things a little differently. Sure, they still have the traditional bon dance music, but they also do rock bon dances!

It seems the idea came from a pun, when someone noticed that starting-syllable similarities between “bon odori” and “Bon Jovi.” Video of Nakano’s Obon Jovi dance went viral, attracting the attention of even the band itself.

So at this year’s bon dance, held on August 6 and 7, Nakano was ready to rock again, and not just to Bon Jovi. For example, included in the bon dance musical lineup was “My Sharona,” by The Knack.

Putting together the setlist was DJ Celly, and the biggest crowd reaction was, once again, for Bon Jovi’s “Living on a Prayer…”

…especially the nighttime set!

Even with the more modern music, though, this was still meant to be a bon dance, and so joining DJ Celly on stage were dancers giving easy-to-follow demonstrations of the bon dance movements that had been developed for each song, as is tradition.

▼ “Living on a Prayer”

▼ Queen’s “I was Born to Love You”

There was even a second set of disco songs, with the complete two-genre artist list including music from Avril Lavigne, Kiss, Michael Jackson, The Village People, ABBA, the Bee Gees, and Earth, Wind & Fire.

▼ The Bee Gees “Stayin’ Alive”

After years of skipping the Nakano bon dance, Mr. Sato can now see himself making it a permanent part of his summer plans, and now that he’s seen how well it works with rock music, he’s wondering if maybe some of Japan’s big summer music festivals, like Fuji Rock or Rock in Japan, might consider adding a bon dance to their programs.

Top image ©SoraNews24
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