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Friday, Dec. 28, 2012

Tokyo to be packed with nontraditional parties

Staff writer

Not interested in a traditional Japanese New Year's Eve? I've often spent my countdowns in the salsa-music dance clubs of the Roppongi district in Tokyo.

Latin-music fans gather at clubs such as Salsa Caribe in Roppongi (www.salsacaribe.jp) and Las Risas in Ginza (www.lasrisas.com) — along with a lot of Latin American expats — to partake in Caribbean cocktails, dancing and a Spanish countdown. On Dec. 31, 2011, I went down to El Cafe Latino in Roppongi (www.elcafelatino.com), one of the hottest salsa clubs in Tokyo, and enjoyed dancing, drinking and chatting with friends. As the clock approached midnight, the club's DJ made a speech to all the guests.

"Muchas gracias, amigos!" ("Thank you very much, friends!"), he said in Spanish, to loud cheers from the salsa fans on the dance floor, many of whom are also regular customers throughout the year. As the New Year took hold — "tres, dos, uno, cero!" — a loud cheer roared out and people began firing party poppers, hugging friends and toasting drinks. It's a Latin-style New Year's Eve, and it's open to all. (Eriko Arita)

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