Tales of Sin City Roppongi
On September 26, 2008, the Financial Services Agency ordered Leman Brothers Japan to cease operations, following in the footsteps of its central office in New York, this unleashed even more the financial crisis of 2008 or as experts in the sector call it: the Leman Shock
I remember that before the Leman Shock, in the city Roppongi, were more than 25 clubs between big and small that were dedicated to entertain Brokers, Bankers, and executives of multinationals.
Those times were part of what we call: The good old times.
In our club we had as clients all the top executives of the largest investment banks in the world, Leman Brothers, Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan, Goldman Sacks, Nomura Securities, etc.
Those were good days for the industry and for the dancers. I remember days when I had 10 black american express cards in my pocket to open customer’s tap, my partner the other club manager had another 10 and in the front desk others more. Almost all transactions were paid by the client's company, we had many company expenses for customer entertainment. There was no day during that time that we did not have clients related to the financial industry.
Many of us who worked on the floor received many tips, sometimes we could receive up to 30 or 40% of our salary in tips, here in Japan the lowest demonization bill is 1,000 YENES approximately 10 USD, and we received many of those.
All the clubs had a large volume of sales of champagne, the volume that was moving was incredible, so much that Dom Perignon released a special bottle for Japan. I'm referring to Dom Pérignon Reserve of L'Abbaye (also known as Dom Pérignon Gold, or simply Gold Reserve). This is a stand-alone series of vintage releases for the Japanese market only and a product that you rarely hear about in the UK / Europe.
I remember that on many occasions we finished the entire stock of Dom Perignon, during the night.
There were days when we had more than a hundred clients, we had a waiting line and everyone offering money to enter. Sometimes we had many problems where to sit the top executives of the investment banks, because they came with a client with whom they wanted to close an account and this client was also in the sights of the other banks, we saw how millionaire contracts were closed in a matter of minutes. I personally saw the aggressiveness and the greed of many agents who tried at all costs to engage in conversation with other clients from other tables.
And what about the dancers, well many made a fortune.
As in any club of this nature in America, the girls paid a house fee, which increased depending on the volume of sales they made, but the girls could assume that expense without any problem.
There are countless stories of parties at investment banking offices with strippers and banned substances in New York, but here in Japan it was no different.
Many of our clients work 24, 48 or 72 hours non-stop closing business and transactions and came to the club to see their favorite striper, which in the end became their favorite dealer. It was a crazy thing and very difficult to control.
We wanted to sell drinks and dances, but many people were dedicated to doing their own business outside the club. For us it was difficult to control everything and we preferred to be away from the dark side and only do our job. But many colleagues decided to get into that fast and easy money game.
Among the bankers of the time, they passed the word where to go and what girl to look for to be able to continue the party 24 hours without stopping, return to the office and continue playing with the money of the investors.
There are many scenes from the Big Short films by Adam McKay and the Wolf of Wall street by Martin Scorsese that do not stray far from the reality there in America as here in Asia, especially in Roppongi where all the offices were concentrated.
After our work around 5 or 6 am, another world started in Roppongi, it was the underground world, where all the organized groups met in some clubs. It was common to see club managers, dancers and dealers at the same table, talking about customers and their consumption habits.
It was very common to see many girls who were top earners, in sentimental relationships with the leaders of those groups, it was a circle of never ending and the waste of the financial industry in Roppongi made other businesses flourish.
For 2004, 2005 or 2006 maybe only in clubs of our industry in Roppongi, the clubs moved approximately ¥ 2,000,000,000 monthly in sales, without counting bars, restaurants, discs, etc.
About $ 18 million dollars per year, annually $ 216,000,000 USD in gross revenue, distributed among all the large, medium and small clubs, approximately 20 or 25 clubs in an area of 1.15 km². And maybe 70% of that came from the financial industry.
Much of that revenue belonged to girls. Many made a fortune, I remember that sometimes after work some of us male staff, we had free breakfasts because the girls invited, it was nothing, for someone who received 500 to 1000 dollars in tips in one night.
I also remember girls who traveled to Thailand and returned after spending $ 50,000 in 3 weeks.
At a time when I started to make some money they recommended me with a financial advisory firm based in Azabujuban, that was my first meeting with investment funds and after a long talk with the person in charge, she told me that she did not have any prejudice by the type of industry in which I worked and that some of our girls were clients of his firm.
I think that all of us who were at that time were dazzled by everything that the investment banks meant. Some colleagues even made friends with some clients and left the nightlife and started working as brokers.
It was a very hectic moment and it seemed like it would never end.
It was good days, until 2008 ...
It is true that Leman shock and the consequent financial crisis affect all industries equally, but I only speak of the gentlemen club.
I always comment with other club operators, the modern era of our industry is divided into before and after Leman Shock.
After the crisis, the Leman Brothers branch in Roppongi Hills closed. Those offices were about 500 meters from the red zone where our club was. Many of our VIP clients flew to Singapore and HKG. The companies began to put a lot of restrictions on entertainment expenses, even in some of the big companies they were forbidden to pass receipts from clubs like ours, they had a list of all the places and ours was listed on the list.
For a moment there was an uncertain time, the volume of sales decreased by 50% and continued to decline. It took a while to accept that things would not be like before, although some were reluctant to believe it, little by little the girls left Japan, Tokyo was no longer an attractive place, and only some stayed, many continue to work in clubs in Roppongi.
In 2010 when the initial low panic, I decided to go to USA to my first Gentlemens Club owners convention, and the theme was Optimism. There was light at the end of the tunnel.
I learned a lot from the panelists and had the good fortune to talk with some of the biggest club operators in the world.
And they commented on how they went through the storm and how they had to readjust some prices.
Rick Lagan from Ricks Cabaret said that they had to sell beer for 2 dollars every Tuesday in order to attract more market and fill the place with a number of people.
He also told us that this moment of crisis had been a great opportunity to acquire more clubs and find more affordable prices, since people had to sell and because they could not do it, they would do it for less price.
In terms of human resources also change, because many hospitality professionals lost their jobs and found opportunity working in nightclubs, which according to RIck contributed a quota of quality and education in the night business.
In a project that we had in the Philippines in 2008 I remember that we were designing the kitchen in the club, and I began to study the whole process and different ways of working with food. And I found the story of Stu Irving's an award winner chef from Vancouver, who lost his restaurant during the crisis and started working at a strip club, obviously the club's food raised its quality exponentially. So many positions within the clubs were filled with more and more professional people.
Unfortunately here in Tokyo things did not go so well, the lack of ideas to innovate, the lack of professionalism in night work, no regulations, nor appropriate laws made it all turn into a jungle where acquaintances and friends prevailed.
Many clubs had to close gradually, and very few survive now.
Before the girls paid for work, after the crisis the club had to pay for them to work.
It was not so attractive for the girls to work all night, because people do not spend as before and therefore fewer commissions, and it does not make much sense to work drinking every day and dancing for less and less money.
In addition, the crisis led to many tax measures and immigration laws that made the work of girls and club operators more difficult.
After many years I remember with a certain nostalgia those times, I do not write this article with the desire to find conclusions or some kind of learning, I think that none of us who were at that time regretted having lived a good life, for all of us I think that was part of that bubble and illusion in which we all lived. I write this article only with the eagerness to entertain myself remembering all those stories that we passed at that time.
The only conclusion is that the few who remain decided to innovate and move forward, and try as much as possible to work with business ethics.
This article is not to talk bad about the bankers or brokers of that time, just only to recall some of the crazy times We lived.
I have to say that I have met incredible people working in the finance industry, and they were really dedicated to deliver their promises to their shareholders. I wish they continue in the industry, because they are people with values. But I still see that some bankers of that time, are still in the same industry, and I hope they have learned the lesson.
However I have to say that I see again with uncertainty the future of the financial industry as we know it. Greed will always be an important factor for growth ... but at what cost?
I have many stories of those times and if you have any share them here.
私の仕事の一部として、ダンサーを経済的に自立できるように訓練することがある。ミーティングやプレゼンの準備などに多くの時間を割く。そのための方法を模索していく中で、多くの便利なアドバイスやコツを見つけた。今からあげるのは、”Survive the Club” というブログから見つけた、私が聞いた中で最も素晴らしいものの一つだろう。これらのことは、全ての産業や職業に通じる。現代のストレス社会の中でビジネスを成功させようと頑張る全ての人にも。
In my early stages as Director of Operations in Asia, I have been so crazy with "details" in the Club that my own team was getting nuts and stress all the time. I had the idea that people must be always under pressure in order to deliver a good work. I also have been obsess to control everything and afraid to delegate responsibilities.
Is this sound familiar to you? Well, if you recognized that you have been acting like this, then you will recognize the difficulties to lead a group of people in today's world, but is never too late to learn a couple of new things.
Indeed, My team delivered a lot of hard work under pressure, but maybe that pressure didn't encourage them to perform at their best.
I didn't delegate responsibilities to my team, and my luck of trust on them, made the club move very slow, because everybody was waiting for my final decision, sometimes I had to make rash decisions because people was waiting for me, but We all know that rash decisions can cost you a lot of money in the long run.
I was lucky to travel and work in different operations with different type of people, Japan, Philippines, Macau, Singapore, and realized that "Micromanagement" works at certain stage but if you want your club and your business to grow, You have continually unlearning old 'management rules' and relearning new ones.
I just read this article and summarize what I think about Micromanagement.
The Signs of Micromanagement: Here are 10 clear signs of micromanagement.
Are you a micro-manager? Do you know one?
Let’s see …
Micro-managers are bad news for business and bad news for employees. They dis-empower staff, stifle opportunity and innovation, and give rise to poor performance.
Micromanagement is just plain bad management.
If you believe your team can’t be trusted and can’t do a proper job it won’t be long before they believe you! Micromanagement is a sure way to ensure your team won’t reach its full potential.
I still believe that Micromanagement at certain point works, supervision and constant evaluation is critical important, but society and people expectations have changed in our industry as well. My suggestion is: Do not obsess too much with things You cannot control and concentrate all your effort in things You actually can. Motivation is very difficult to achieve, and the best way to start is letting your team to work and do mistakes.
What is the best way for you to overcome Micromanagement?
One of the biggest challenges in today's business is to find good members for your team. But what happen when you find people with good potential in your organization? You guide them or You burning them out? Let me share with you some thoughts on that:
My last and final advice: Do not get frustrated, sometimes things don’t work the way you expect, there are many factors that can affect an employee performance, remember that our type of industry is kind of unique and requires both mental and physical strength. So develop your patience and your sense of humor, and you will find a great joy training young people.
Now my question is What is the best way you can keep your staff from burning out?
Sometimes when You’ve delegated work, you think that you and your team were on the same page about what to do, but when the work comes back to you, it’s completely different from what you thought you both agreed on. Don't you hate when this happen?
A lot of times, when Club Owners or Directors are frustrated over what feels like a baffling lack of alignment, it’s because they assumed that their team understood what they wanted – but didn’t actually make it clear or check to confirm that understanding. In other words, they counted on the employee to read their mind.
It’s easy to make this mistake. Especially when you’ve worked with people for a while and assume that you speak the same language; it can be natural to assume that you’re on the same page and you don’t need to be specific. But assuming that you don’t in fact employ a team of mind readers, it’s always better to take the time to get aligned. To do that, follow these steps when you’re delegating work:
1. Don't be afraid to delegate bigger responsibilities. For example, Boss will say something like, “I need you to help me with the girls training sessions,” when what they really mean is, “You’re in charge of managing Dancers”. So be sure that you’re really thinking through what you’ll consider a successful outcome of your instructions, and convey that with the Team otherwise you will end up frustrated that the employee didn’t take more ownership and proactively anticipate additional ways to achieve that broader goal.
2. Cover the smaller picture: the details you’ll care about. Basically this is the main idea of this article, BE SPECIFIC. Try to extract and articulate everything that’s in your head about how you’d like the project to go. An easy way to get at this is to run through how things might go wrong, and then address those right up-front. For example, you might include things like:
4. Ask the Employee to repeat back to you their understanding of these details. The best way to be sure your employee understands the task the way you do is to simply ask. For example, you could say, “To make sure we’re on the same page, can you tell me what you’re taking away from this?” If the work is more complicated, you might ask the person to send you a quick email summarizing what they understood. Almost always when you do this, you’ll find one or two details where you weren’t on the same page and will have a chance to clarify.
5. Check in as the work unfolds. By continuing to engage during the course of the work, you’ll be able to get a feel for how it’s unfolding and can ensure that things are going according to plan or course-correct as needed. You don’t want to hover, but you should check in on the work during your one-on-one’s and in many cases can ask to see interim pieces of the work. If you do this, you’re far less likely to be surprised at the end of the assignment – and your staff person is far less likely to feel frustrated that they put time into something that wasn’t quite right.
What other tips you can share with us, to effectively communicate with your team?
Keep it Open, Keep it Safe, Connect with the Citizens Spirit...
Dear members, We would like to share with you some of the pictures of First Night Mayor Summit in Amsterdam. We would like to thanks the Organization of the Summit for the pictures, specially for Richard Neve #richardneve and Night Mayor Amsterdam Mirik Milan for their time.
Delegates from Belgium, Japan, Canada, the US, Germany, India, France and the UK, gathered in the first night Mayor Summit host by Mirik Milan Amsterdam Night Mayor to discuss experiences and global strategies.
To know more about the role of The Night Mayor visit:
I also would like to share with you these notes of Tyson Kohn from Keep Sydney Open Organization. It describes the opinion that many of us have on the way how local authorities address the nightlife issues and what we should learn from cities like Amsterdam.
Things You Need To Have To Qualify as an Elite Professional Entertainer
Overall Look - First and foremost, obviously this is an industry based on image, much like the modeling industry. You need to be fresh-faced, classically beautiful, with a flawless complexion and pleasant features. And much like a model, you need to be a 'blank canvas', to be able to cater the client's preferences to some degree. Your hairstyle needs to be mainstream and suited to you. Lavender or pink hair is all well and good in your own life, but not for work. ;) So facially and surface-image-wise, you need to be a classic beauty. While conservative cosmetic surgery can change that, too much work can ruin your look, so any over-done work, fillers, botox etc. needs to be avoided. Natural beauty is important.
Physique & Lifestyle - You need to be physically exceptional. This is not to say there is any one type of shape or height that works, but that whatever your shape or height, you need to be in phenomenal physical condition. Whether you have an hourglass shape, or a supermodel stature, or the androgynous look of a ballerina - you need to be fit. You are working at an elite level - like a top model, an elite athlete or an accomplished actress. You need to be eating very, very carefully, and working out religiously every day. Despite the fact you are working at night and your eating time might differ from other, there is no place for eating disorders, a lazy lifestyle, a nonchalant approach to your health, regular 'partying', or fluctuating body size. You are exceptional, you are a queen. You must behave and take care of yourself like one. Again, some minor surgery to smooth some little bumps or balance things aesthetically can assist if done conservatively. This is a personal choice, but should definitely not be over-done. An out-of-proportion bust, over-pouted lips, frozen features or scars from surgery are unacceptable.
Breeding and Personality - While the two don't always go hand-in-hand, for a deluxe elite entertainer, they must. Your background for clients needs to include a 'normal' (i.e. mainstream, healthy) upbringing, sans drug or alcohol problems, abuse, poverty, etc - Not that any of these are anyone's fault by any means, but in Guest mind this exposes one to an unhealthy environment that rarely leads to healthy behavior. One needs to have been brought up with a decent amount of protection, care, and a peaceful calm environment, with proper hygiene, manners and housing.
One also needs to have been afforded the freedom to be oneself. Thus developing one's natural personality, unmarred by oppression or duress. A light-hearted, tolerant, and curious nature is most successful in the arena. She is kind, funny, gracious and dignified, even in unfortunate situations. She doesn't speak unless it's to say something beautiful. Open minded and amicable personalities do best, where one is friendly with everyone, and easily strikes up interesting conversations with new people. Deportment is obviously a given; if she doesn't know how to walk, sit, eat and conduct herself properly, without airs and graces, she is not yet suited to be labeled 'elite'.
An empathy and compassion for fellow human beings is a must, in order to be able to attend to someone in this capacity, to create the required connection. Intelligence obviously goes without saying; possessed as an innate talent, as well as having been developed through excellent education and training, mentioned above.
Article from former Eltie Courtesan. All articles belongs to their respective authors. no copyright infringement intended. For more information just email us to: email@example.com
"Tokyo Girls" is a candid journey into the world of four young Canadian women who work as well-paid hostesses in exclusive Japanese nightclubs.
Lured by adventure and easy money, these modern-day geisha find themselves caught up in the mizu shobai - the complex "floating water world" of Tokyo clubs and bars.
Drawn by fast money, some women become consumed by the lavish lifestyle and forget why they came.
One hostess calls it "losing the plot." With a pulsating visual style, Tokyo Girls captures the raw energy of urban Japan and its fascination with the new. Shot in Canada, Osaka and Tokyo, this is a riveting inside look at the impact of the "economy geisha."
Desired mainly for her looks, the hostess is rapidly replacing the cultural institution of geisha - women trained in the ancient art of traditional entertainment.
Documentary produced by National Film Board of Canada (NFB).
Director and Writer: Penelope Buitenhuis.
No Copyright Infringement Intented.
Orienting your new Staff during their first days is an essential step, and a management best practice that every nightclub business should incorporate into their hiring process; no matter how small or big your club is. In this video We will give you some guidelines for your New Staff Orientation Process.
We visited a club in Ermita, the old town of Manila. The owner asked for some advice. He knows that we used to work in some projects with FHM Philippines and asked if we could bring some models for a party. “I am trying to think out of the box”, he said. Minutes later I talked to him, and explain to him what he was doing wrong, I hope this tip will be useful for him and for all our members who are running a club for the first time.
You don't need “to think out of the box” at this stage, you just need to do the basics right. The “BASIC CLUB CONCEPTS” are like the roots of a tree, if the roots are weak the tree falls.
If you are a club owner, remember that this is a people's business, your staff and your girls need to be good with people, the rest: like decoration, club interior, nice printing materials, great light and sound system, are what I called VALUE-ADD FEATURES, those features give additional value to the product and service that you sell.
But what we actually sell in a nightclub?
We sell entertainment, fantasy, and most important, we sell alcohol and fun with good looking girls.
You cannot make your existing sofas look better, you just can replace them, same with your existing light and sound equipment. A Dom Perignon Brut, cannot become better, is a final product, if you want a better Champagne, you have to buy another bottle.
What you can improve is your people performance, your team, your staff, your hostess and dancers. That you can improve and there are not limits for a person to become the best in his/her position.
Intensive training is a must if you want to improve your business.
I asked that Club Owner:
How do you expect your waiter to sell a Moet Chandon Champagne, if he doesn’t even know what is it? How do you expect your waitresses to deliver first class service if they have never been in an upscale establishment as a guest?
The same with the girls, how do you expect your girls to deal with rich and well-educated guests if they don’t know how to talk?
I must say that there are people with special talent who don't need any training, but those people don't fall from trees, what you can do is educate your existing team.
You cannot ask or demand people to give you what they don't have.
But you can improve that with a lot of hours of training. With a proper job descriptions for each position, evaluating their performance with Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for club business, and customer service.
24 hours/month training for staff is a must in a new club. One hour a day, line up meeting and training.
Training is one of the basic concepts of Club Business.
I told the owner of the club to stop thinking in crazy events or spending a lot of money bringing well-known artist and celebrities from now, FIRST go back to the basics. If you apply the BASIC CLUB CONCEPTS correctly, the rest will be just fine…
Have a good week,
Francisco Leon Nakagawa