My Way Your Way

Dance with Life


To Dance Forever as a Redhead

Tadanon, Tokyo


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The video-sharing site Niconico, which was founded in late 2006, has a category called "Odotte mita" or "Danced It," in which users post videos of themselves and others dancing along to anime and Vocaloid songs. One such user is Tadanon, who began posting videos of himself dancing in early 2007. Here, Tadanon goes on the record about what motivates him to do what he does.

In addition to posting my dance videos to Niconico and YouTube, I put up videos of myself giving play-by-plays on video games, and work as a DJ and MC for cosplay, music, and dance events. So I guess you could call me a "jack of all internet-related trades."

It was when I was in junior high that I first became interested in dancing. I saw a video online of Michael Jackson moonwalking and was entranced. Around the same time, a childhood friend of mine started taking dance lessons, which made me want to try it, too. That's when I began to watch videos over and over, and practice the moonwalk at home.

I was being bullied at the time, and for a certain period, I wasn't able to go to school much. Classmates that I'd never really even talked to pushed me around, and when I'd try to get my shoes out of my shoe locker, they'd bump into me on purpose and pretend they hadn't seen me, or pull pro-wrestling moves on me from behind...I stopped going to school because of that. I think I was in my second year of junior high.

Making Friends at In-Real-Life (IRL) Meet-Ups


©Ogawa Kazuya

Around the time I started high school, I really got into the anime "Suzumiya Haruhi no yuutsu" (The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya), and learned that there was a dance that went along to the closing theme song, "Harehare yukai." I found videos of people dancing to the song on YouTube, and also discovered that people who'd met online through this common interest were meeting up in real life to dance together. Back then, I was a bit stuck up and considered myself to be a much better dancer than everyone else I'd seen, so I decided to go to a meet-up.

The people who participate in these gatherings are not professional dancers, but anime "otaku." People were getting together to dance because they loved the same anime. It was an opportunity for those who didn't even know each other's real names to become friends regardless of age, just because we shared a common interest. We'd dance for seven hours straight in parks in Akihabara or Yoyogi. It was so much fun that I went to these meet-ups every weekend. Maybe I was rebounding from my time as a shut-in.

20,000 Views a Day on Niconico


©Ogawa Kazuya

One day when I was in my second year of high school, a dance friend bought a new camera, and we decided to use it to take video of me dancing. During filming it suddenly started pouring rain, which turned into a thunderstorm, making all of us laugh our heads off. Niconico had just started its services around that time, so we decided to post the video. For my online handle, I used the name, "Tadano Gakusei," meaning "Just a student." From there on, friends from our meet-ups nicknamed me Tadanon. The name came as a natural part of our silly antics.

What happened next was this: a college student who saw the video posted a link to my dance video on the online forum 2channel, saying something like, "Look at this idiot (haha)." People thought it was funny. And all of a sudden, the video had gotten around 20,000 views in one day, and about 200 comments. Those were crazy numbers at the time. But I wasn't thinking about becoming famous or anything like that. We'd just posted that video because it was funny.

Tadanon's first post to Niconico, 2007"Danced It: Haruhi Suzumiya's 'Harehare Yukai' (in a thunderstorm)"

Uploading New Works

Continuing to post lots of videos to Niconico was a natural progression for me. When we danced together in real life, we usually said, "let's film it and post it." Even if we made mistakes in a dance, we wouldn't redo it and just posted the videos anyway. We were having fun together, and we wanted to keep it that way. Eventually, people who didn't dance but were good with cameras helped us film.

The appeal of Niconico is that comments to your videos appear on the screen in real time. I like that people will put up funny words that are timed to appear at certain parts of a dance, or write "www" when they think that what they're seeing is really funny. Critiques, like "Doing such and such would've made it better" are also helpful.

Around 2009 or 2010, people who'd studied dance and street dancers began to get in on the Niconico action. We became friendly with some of those people, but there were others who looked down on our "amateur" dancing. It was frustrating. It's not like they have exclusive rights to dance. Of course you get better at dancing if you go to a dance school. But I watched a lot of videos of other people dancing, imitated them, and gained skills all on my own. My thinking was that if people thought I was good despite my not having any real training, I was winning. Thinking back now, I was overflowing with energy and enthusiasm. Haha.

"Butsudan Kamen and Tadanon Danced It: Bad Apple!" 2009

Red Hair and Sunglasses


©Ogawa Kazuya

The look I sport in my videos--red hair and sunglasses--just happened to work out that way. At the time I started out, it was common for people not to show their faces in their videos, and people would wear masks or put on traffic cones over their heads. I tried dancing with a mask of the figure in Edvard Munch's painting, "The Scream," but the mask made it hard for me to breathe, so I wore sunglasses instead.

I'd thought sunglasses were cool since I watched the American television series "V.I.P." I usually wear glasses, and if I'm an MC at an event where I know that I won't be dancing, I'll go on stage in glasses. But if there's a chance that I might dance, I go on stage in sunglasses. I just can't dance when I'm in regular glasses. I can't seem to give dancing 100-percent effort unless my face is partially covered.

The first time I dyed my hair red was in my first year of high school. My mother, seeing that I hardly ever went out, gave me 10,000 yen and told me, "Get your hair dyed or something and go out and have some fun, for god's sake." I went to a hair stylist that my mom knew, who turned out to be an elderly woman who used to do the flashy hair of 1990s early visual-kei band members. As trends changed, she was left with a bunch of hair dyes, which she then used on me one after another.

So my hair has seen a range of colors, including blue, green, gold, silver, white, yellow, purple, and jet black. I've had mesh, and there was also a time when my hair was three colors: gold, black, and red. But red felt like the best fit for me. I generally like the color blue, but it's when my hair is red that I feel the most excited.

What I Couldn't Do IRL, I Did on the Internet

It was around the time I was 20, when I was going to an IT vocational school, that "Danced It"-related events became really popular, and I was asked to appear at these events. I'd already amassed 20,000 to 30,000 followers on Twitter. It was a time when "free move" dance--referring to dances performed freely along to music, instead of according to pre-existing choreography--was popular, and I challenged myself to do a lot of it.

I knew that if I continued to go to school, I would gain certain skills that would definitely help me find employment. I'd have a monthly income that I could live on. But I started to wonder if maybe I could quit school and live life doing what I loved to do. When I was struggling to figure out what to do, I asked my friends from "Danced It" for advice, to which they said, "You should live life doing what you enjoy." The next day I quit vocational school and became free.

I attended my "seijinshiki," the coming of age ceremony for 20-year-olds, with my hair red. Some of my former junior high classmates whom I ran into told me they were fans of my videos. Those who'd only known me as the kid who was bullied were shocked, asking, "Who is that?" and "What are you up to?" I don't blame them, since when I was in junior high, I was a true otaku, had no athletic ability, and was really slow in the 100-meter dash. But I actually wanted to dance, and I think deep inside, I wanted attention. The bullying I experienced had suppressed such desires. But thanks to the internet, I was able to dance, dye my hair red, post videos, and become famous. Everything I wasn't able to do in real life, I was able to accomplish through the internet. Honestly, it's been incredibly exhilarating.

"Tadanon Danced It: Senbonzakura (my final dance as a 20-year-old)," 2011

I Want to Dance as Long as My Body Moves


©Ogawa Kazuya

I was 16 years old when I posted my first video. I'm 26 this year. The way I look, my body shape, and my everyday life are all changing. I've also stocked up on "ammunition" that I can use when I'm no longer mobile, like my skills as a DJ and MC. But I want to continue dancing as long as I can move. I dance because I enjoy it, and I post videos because I enjoy it. That core mentality hasn't changed for me, and I don't want it to change from here on out.

There are just so many boring videos out there these days. There are lots of shrewd users who are concerned only with click-bait thumbnails for their videos, or with making money at events once they become popular. Those people are just using videos as a business tool. I especially dislike those who say they're doing things "for the fans," because to me, that comes across as fake sincerity. I don't have any insecurities when it comes to videos like that, and feel no desire to compete with those who make them. I feel no emotion toward them.

I think that times do change, and I have no intention of dismissing those who are doing their best. It's just that I've continued to post my videos on the internet because it's fun. And I want to remain resolute in that.

Where I'm Headed


©Ogawa Kazuya

I want to keep going the way I've come so far. If I were to aspire to become a certain type of figure, I'd say the comedian and MC Tamori. Most people who've gone to see the live TV shows "Waratte iitomo!" or "Music Station" in the studio probably didn't go to see Tamori. But everyone knows him. I hope that in the future, people will see me at "Danced It"-related events and think, "I'm not exactly a fan, but I know Tadanon," or "Wait, this guy's still doing this?"

For the time being, my goal is to keep my hair red until I'm 30. Because if I can do that, I feel like I'll be able to stay a redhead for the rest of my life. As for everything else? What happens, happens. I want to live a life without regrets, and to go out with a bang.

Interview: Aug 2016

Compilation: Yamagishi Hayase

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