/ japan

Gyoza and groupies

We know a little place near イタチshelter where the gyoza is nice and they serve local beer. It seats 10 people max if you count the two-person table out front.

A seamstress friend and I sat outside on a cool spring evening, a slight breeze, our backs soaking up the yellow lights shining out of the bar’s floor-to-ceiling windows. We created long shadows on the street. The windows were covered in white marker scribble, the specials of the day. We scored a beer, some tapas, and gyoza for ¥800. A steal.

At the small intersection just to our left, a pigeon flock of girl groupies aged 17 to 23 loitered; eyes darting left and right; fidgeting with their hands; clearly anticipating something. Why they loitered was the subject of our idle, beer-fueled speculation.

By and by, a few security guards would come to shoo the pigeon girls away from the dark street corners. Each time they would scatter. About half of the girls would leave, and the other half would stay. The most determined just crossed their arms and ignored the guards. The smartest lured the guards into some lengthy conversation, buying a little time. But for what?

From the garage to the right of where we were enjoying our beer (and the show unfolding in front of us), a small troop of men doing their best to imitate the Secret Service appeared, suits and all.

“They must be waiting on a Johnny’s group to exit the theater”, my friend ventured a guess. This was plausible. I snagged another gyoza with my chopsticks, trying to think of which Johnny’s group it might be.

Abruptly, another expedition of security guards ventured over to the growing mass of girls, this time accompanied by the faux Secret Service, each with an earpiece wired to one ear.

This was too good to let it pass. My friend called to one of the Secret Service agents as he passed our table. “What are all of these girls waiting for?” the seamstress asked. I sipped my beer and swallowed a laugh.

“A kan-ryu artist,” he replied and scuttled on with an air of borrowed importance.

A kan-ryu artist. Where “kan-ryu” means “Korean” and “artist” means “a slowly gyrating, diabetes-pop dancer/singer group”.

As this anti-climax settled in our minds, three dark mini buses emerged from the garage, proceeding slowly and flanked by uniformed security guards and Secret Service on foot.

The buses prompted joyous yelps from the groups of girls waiting on the street corner, some waving hands, some jumping up and down.

And now the true job of the guardians escorts was obvious: keep the girls from throwing themselves under the buses.

One of the taller girls managed to push through security and charged the front bus from behind, yelling the name of one of the performers and even landing a hand on a black window as the bus picked up speed. A guard wrapped an arm around her waist and whisked her back to safety.

This whole scene could prompt a number of questions, but the one I chose was: “How does a person go about getting a job masquerading as the Secret Service for K-pop stars?”

It was a dumb question, but I’m just here for the beer.

Gyoza and groupies
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