Okayama Strip Club

シェーン·トムズ

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Located in a small regional onsen town in northern Okayama, this colorful former strip club sits rotting away on a lonely road side.  Research tells me that it closed down in 2001... however its loud kitschy interior totally contradicts this theory and makes me lean more towards a closure date in 1976 (or therabouts).  Full of retro treasures, hanging out in this psychadelic time capsule was like stepping into the aftermath of a 70's new years eve party (that never got cleaned up).

A long outdoor stairway, blocked off at the bottom with rubbish and used white goods, led me up to its front entrance (barricaded by a large white Kirin beer fridge).  I  jumped over and landed inside a tacky reception area decorated with headache causing yellow patterned wallpaper (barely managing to stay on the walls after years of water damage).  Flourescent streamers and ripped lanterns still clung to an almost collapsed ceiling.  On top of a small table sat a broken lucky cat which stared at me with a mangled smile.   On the floor sat a sea of rubbish consisting of lanterns, broken glass, tickets, large dice, trinkets and some Otafuku masks.  I took a few snaps and waded through the debris towards the back of the reception area.  I discovered the first strip hall - a 70's tropicana visual delight which totally jolted my senses...a tacky circular strip stage surrounded by a sea of tiny red stools (covered in dust).  A bright day-glo painting of a mountain scene acted as the back drop to what would once have been an erotic dance act in front of drunk clapping men.  I began to think that the owners were a little too presumptuous with the installation of so many stools....this building sat on the outskirts of a tiny (very tiny) country village, so where would the clientele have come from to fill such a large venue?  I fossicked around and found some containers filled with napkins, more streamers and match boxes which had pictures of naked femme fatales smiling seductively.

On the other side of the venue I found the second strip hall.  This area sat in almost total darkness so I had to use my floodlight to see.  Another kitschy visual gleamed before me... plastic pink flowers hung from the ceiling above a blue centre stage surrounded by more red stools.   I noted that this area was a lot bigger and grander than the previous strip hall with a much higher ceiling and more seating.  I stepped onto the stage and took a few snaps and started hearing these strange fluttering noises, but I ignored them and kept taking photos.  When I heard the sound again, I shone my light towards the ceiling and realised I'd woken up a bunch of bats who'd taken up residence in the lighting and projection room on the second floor.  The fluttering sound started to get louder and more dramatic with the amount of bats increasing, so I decided to head back out towards the reception area.  I found a staircase which I climbed, and discovered a long hallway with a number of small rooms attached.  I opened each door and found small, creepy windowless dressing rooms with mirrors, old make up and bright underwear strewn over mouldy furniture.  I found a small decayed, greasy kitchen and an office area filled with piles of paper, then opened a side door and unleashed about 20 bats (I'd stupidly opened the door to the projection room bat cave), and slammed the door and went back down stairs.  

Stepping outside into the daylight, I felt kind of hung over.