It was 39 years ago that gals in G-strings began bumping and grinding before male audiences at the DX theater in Shinjuku's raunchy Kabukicho district in Tokyo. Its history comes to an end on Sunday, and Ultra, a magazine-format Mook launched by Taiyo Tosho publishing earlier this year, was on the scene to report the theater's upcoming demise.
"It's a sign of the times," sighed a fan of the popular backstreet strip joint. "Many customers have become elderly, and their numbers have declined."
The establishment's full name was Shinjuku DX Kabukicho, although fans gave it the nickname "Derakabu." Over the years it had paraded out not only exotic dancers, but SM events and gay performances and even an "amateur tournament" that invited non professionals to peel their garments before audiences.
"There's no single reason why we're closing, but rather a combination of various factors," the establishment's shacho (proprietor) explains to the reporter. "We've been told not to let the performances get carried away, but that made it more difficult to promote the shows. Whether times are good or bad, the dancers won't compromise on the amount of their fee. The quality of the girls, compared with the old days, has become far superior -- enough to even astonish first-time customers.
"The main problem is that people play in different ways now. They can view nudes online, and some sex shops charge as little as 5,000 yen. The days are gone when salarymen would down a drink or two and then come to take in a show."
Another challenge appears to be efforts at cleanup of the district by the authorities, which initially had the result of driving the yakuza underground. This led to a rapid increase in bars and clubs that overcharged customers, discouraging Kabukicho visitors. On the other hand, stricter enforcement ahead of the 2020 Olympics scheduled for next summer may have served to make the district more tourist friendly.
A veteran dancer who goes by the stage name Chiruchiru Ichiru is quoted by Ultra as saying, "It's been lots of fun dancing here. The dressing rooms and stage are spacious and the lighting is well done. I'll miss DX after it's gone. It's really a shame, as that's one less place now where dancers can perform."
Just as it's been said that each dancer has her own individual style, the same could be said for strip joints as well. From that perspective, one might say that even if you've seen the same dancer somewhere else, watching her perform at DX will be distinctive. Which, in the minds of the theater's longtime fans, is all the more reason to rue its shutting down.
"They've been confronting me to ask, 'Why are you closing?'" the aforementioned proprietor relates. "They've expressed their affection, but that's not enough to keep us going. I've been brooding over this situation for about a year, and finally decided the timing was right to shut down.
"On the last day I hope we get a big turnout and then we can go out with a bang," he added.
Those wishing to attend one of DX's final three 2-hour performances, the last of which will end at 11 p.m. on Sunday, are invited to visit its website (in Japanese) for more details.© Japan Today