Written by Theo F.
Edited by Saki Arimoto
Note:All pictures were taken before coronavirus
U.G.G, an extracurricular club founded here at Tokyo International University, is home to many dance enthusiasts of different backgrounds. From hip-hop to funky rock, they are known for a wide variety of styles. For Shinzui, dancing makes him forget the stress and enjoy the fun of the moment.
To learn more about U.G.G, we interviewed Shinzui – a Chinese/Korean senior majoring in International Relations. According to the dance club member, U.G.G stands for Under Ground Groovers. In the past, they have participated in numerous competitions and performed for different venues. Just to mention a few, Shinzui described his experience at the Annual Kanto Spring Dancing Competition (Koto, Tokyo) where U.G.G faced other universities all over the region, and how the club would rent a studio in Kichijoji (Musashino, Tokyo) every June. During summer, the club would travel to other parts of the country, dance till late at night, and enjoy exotic food. Towards the end of the year, U.G.G would hold parties for its graduating members. Consequently, U.G.G is often considered as one of the most active and fun clubs on campus.
During our conversation, Shinzui revealed that he was actually, for a long time, the sole non-Japanese member in the dance club. Curiosity took over and I decided to ask him to share his story.
Sneak peek of UGG’s usual practice
As a freshman, Shinzui had originally wanted to join the university’s wind orchestra. However, he had been turned down as they had enough members at the time. After attending the extracurricular orientation, Shinzui had contemplated trying his second choice – U.G.G – where two walls stood in his way: cultural differences and inexperience in dancing. Although Shinzui had been able to speak Japanese, cultural differences had restricted his ability to get involved in Japanese banter, among other instances. Furthermore, unlike Shinzui, most of the past members had had prior dancing experience. In order to overcome his shortcomings, he increased his Japanese capabilities, devoted a lot of time for practice, and asked for advice from his amiable upperclassmen. As a result of his earnest effort, Shinzui has become able to converse naturally and dance adeptly with his fellow members.
According to Shinzui, there were E-Track students who joined U.G.G but quit after a short while as they were not able to handle the language barrier. Shinzui stressed that “a foreign country will not accommodate you, you need to adopt their customs.” He believes that there is nothing wrong with stepping out of your comfort zone and working hard to have fun.
I bumped into Shinzui with his Japanese friends at the station last week. He for sure was enjoying his efforts.
U.G.G meets every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 16:40 to 19:00 in Lecture Hall 314. Interested students are welcome to come and try it out. Follow Shinzui on Instagram at @jangjinseo0 and U.G.G at @ugg_official_tiu