I love exploring the nightlife wherever I am. However, wherever I go, I despise the touristy clubs crawling with drunk, horny people only trying to get some. Especially since I started dancing hiphop, I’ve been looking for clubs where people go to dance, not to look for someone to…I’ll leave the rest to your imagination.
So when I first came to Japan, I hung out with mostly foreigners that I knew from work, or met through other foreigners. Non-Japanese people usually like to hang out with each other, and usually live in a bubble. It’s understandable, as Japanese culture is so different from western culture. However, the places frequented primarily by foreigners in this city are not exactly the best places to go dance. For example:
One place I really hate going to is Sam and Dave’s. The last time I was there, it was because my friend was celebrating her birthday there. If not for her birthday, I would not have set foot into that place at all. On weekends, it’s usually packed with tourists and locals who are only looking for some tail. I was in that club for less than an hour, and my ass got groped at least five times. The only time a guy apologized for it was when I turned around and shot him a dirty look, looking him dead in the eye. The people there are usually too drunk to function properly, they hit you in the face or the back when attempting to drunkenly do a stupid dance move, and seem to be unaware of the fact that just randomly touching someone’s ass or dancing up behind them can be considered as sexual harassment. Don’t get me wrong, some people like that kind of stuff, but it is just plain rude to touch certain parts of people without their permission.
Another place I despise is a club called Pure. The crowd at the club is quite the opposite from the meaning of the club’s name. Yes, there’s an all-you-can-drink special for 3000 or 4000 yen, but, once again, that attracts the same type of crowd. I’ve only been to that club twice: once because I was new to the city and didn’t know about it, and the second time, because a social organization rented out the club for an event (though, unfortunately, it still attracted the same crowd). The first time I went, a random local came up to me and just randomly asked me to pole dance. I thought he was joking, but he went on about it, demonstrating that he seriously wanted me to do it. The second time I went there, this creeper kept staring at me. When I glared at him and tried to walk out of his line of sight, he would somehow end up staring at me again throughout the course of the night. Finally, toward the end of the event, he approached me and said, “You are bloody Indian. YOU ARE BLOODY INDIAN!” to which I replied, “get the hell away from me.” Mind you, he was almost my father’s age. Needless to say, I have never been back there, and wouldn’t even go there for a friend’s birthday.
While there are plenty of grimy clubs like this around the city, these two seem to be the worst, in my experience anyway. On the other hand, there are also some pretty good places that I tend to frequent. Here are some of my favorite places:
Azure is probably my favorite club in all of Osaka. They play hiphop/top 40 music. The club isn’t as big as Sam&Dave’s or Pure, but it’s still big enough to fit a good number of people. The bartenders and bouncers are friendly, the drinks are great and there is a discount for foreigners. However, unlike a club that caters almost exclusively to foreigners, Azure actually caters to those who are interested in dancing rather than picking people up. The music always has a good beat, and some of Osaka’s most well-known hiphop dancers frequent this club. Whether you get there at 10pm (before many people arrive) or at 2am when the party is at its peak, you’ll most likely see people dancing real hiphop, popping/locking, etc. It’s as fun to watch people dance there as it is to dance.
Another place that I enjoy going to is called Garden Bar. It’s not usually as crowded as Azure, and the party only really gets going after midnight or one, but this place is excellent if you like having room to dance. This place has a bar area where you can sit/stand and chat, and also has a separate dance area where you can go show off your moves, or sway to the music if you can’t dance too well. Every time I go there, I see well-known hiphop dancers doing their thing, or socializing with people at the club. Also, there doesn’t seem to be a VIP area at this club, so it’s not pretentious at all. While the place is a bit difficult to find, not that big, and without an English-speaking staff, it’s still one of my favorite clubs.
If you’re more into Top 40 than hiphop, then Grand Cafe is the place for you. I went there once on a Thursday night, but it was one of my better nights out. That night, ladies were free until midnight, and it was all you can drink until 11pm. Even though they had an all-you-can-drink, the crowd wasn’t sleazy at all. In fact, everyone was super cool, and there was even a smoke-free dancefloor (there was a separate bar/lounge area where smoking was allowed). The vibe was classy, the DJ was spinning great songs and the crowd was cool.
If you prefer to party in Umeda, I really enjoyed my night at Owl. Once again, Owl is a bit difficult to find, but if you ask at the train station, the attendants will guide you there. I was only there once, but I had a great time. The entrance was a tunnel of dim LED lights, and that was really cool. When I got inside, the decor was super classy, and the music was great. I was there for a DJ event, but I know that Owl usually plays top 40/house music with a bit of hiphop mixed in. The staff is friendly, the crowd is well-dressed and the music and ambiance of the club make for a fun night.
Not a clubber? There are some pretty good bars as well.
One of my favorite places to hang out is a place called L&L. It’s a little bit off the main road, but is worth a visit. It caters mostly to foreigners, but all are welcome there. The dance area downstairs is a bit small, but the main floor is pretty chill, and the crowd is nice. They have shisha/hookah, but the main reason why I go there is for the food. Their menu has some delicious mediterranean food (some of the best Falaffel I’ve ever had) and the drinks are reasonably priced as well.
Finally, a block down from L&L is a place called Shanti. It’s a bit hidden, and it has the same owner as L&L. The decor is mostly Indain and the food is mostly western, but like L&L they still have shisha and reasonably-priced drinks. The vibe is great, and they even have an area where you can take off your shoes and sit on pillows behind sheer curtains. It’s a bit small, but it’s still a fun time. I recommend their garlic toast.
Overall, Osaka is a great city for nightlife. There are tons of great bars and clubs, even besides the ones I have listed (needless to say, I haven’t visited every bar/club in this city). If you’re looking for a great night with your friends, the places I mentioned above are probably your best bet. Enjoy!