Ikebukuro Jazz Festival

The Ikebukuro Jazz Festival will take place on May 18th and 19th. Over 200 jazz bands will perform around the Global Ring Theatre near the west and south exits of Ikebukuro station.

The following information is based on TSDS’s independent analysis derived from our past experiences, with the goal of determining whether lindyhoppers can enjoy dancing at this event.

This event is free to enjoy, and no advance booking is required. The venue consists of nine areas, labeled 1-A, 1-B, 2, through 8, all of which are outdoor or rooftop decks of department stores.

Generally, most band performances last for 30 minutes, scheduled in easily understandable time slots such as 13:30-14:00 or 16:00-16:30. However, there are some exceptions, like 18:45-19:30 or 15:40-16:10. While it’s advisable to read the Japanese schedule provided by the organizers for precise information, it can be overwhelming due to its extensive nature. The English schedule provided here by TSDS simplifies this aspect slightly while prioritizing readability. Overall, you should be able to obtain compass-like information on where to go during these time slots.

The organizers of this event are the Toshima Ward in Tokyo, along with various shops and public facilities around Ikebukuro station. TSDS is not affiliated with the organizers. Amateur and semi-professional jazz bands will perform there. Especially at Venue 1-A, 1-B and 3, approximately 40 big bands will gather over the two days. The jazz genres vary, including Swing jazz, Blues, Latin, Fusion, Soul, Funk, R&B, Gospel, J-Pops and Contemporary jazz. As Lindy Hoppers, we are coming here to dance, so we need to find bands that are likely to play Swing, Blues and R&B among the many. Since the organizer’s website is all in Japanese, we base our search on that and list only the those jazz bands here in English.

Most of the bands performing from Venue 4 to 8 are jazz combos. While there may be bands playing swing among them, there are simply too many bands to discern accurately. Therefore, they have been omitted in the TSDS version of the schedule below.

This event will start in the late morning and continue until night. Furthermore, the venue is spacious, and a large number of spectators gather. Therefore, where the dancers meet becomes important. We plan to post information about rendezvous on the discussion section of the next Facebook Event. However, even then, whether we can actually rendezvous in a crowded venue might require some luck.

Finally, this post will be updated regularly, so we strongly recommend refreshing it periodically.

I’ve just returned from Ikebukuro after wrapping up the first day of the event. Since it’s held simultaneously across eight venues, it’s impossible to check out all the bands even if I wanted to. Venues 1-A, 1-B, and 3 usually feature good bands and have excellent sound systems, so they’re recommended for swing dancing. Venue 2, on the other hand, offers a different music genre from swing. Venues 4 to 8 often host smaller bands, and their outdoor performances may not be as strong, so it might be okay to skip them.

The first three venues primarily showcase big bands, and many of these bands consist of members in their 30s who have experience with university big bands. As a general trend, amateur bands from this generation tend to lean towards playing modern jazz, funk, or anime songs, which often results in a weaker clean four-beat rhythm that swing dancers desire, making it difficult to dance. On the other hand, bands with members around their 50s, who are more familiar with swing jazz, tend to offer more danceable performances. Of course, there are exceptions.

Let me introduce the bands from the first day that I had the chance to dance to:
Venue#1-A, 12:30- Minato Jazz Club
Venue#1-A, 16:30- Pinot Gris
Venue#1-A, 17:30- Pepoyo Band

Venue#3, 15:00- Tokyo Galaxy Jazz Orchestra

I won’t be able to attend the second day tomorrow, but as I mentioned earlier, focusing on Venues 1 and 3 should provide enough enjoyment for dancing. Please note that I’ve revised the band schedule for the second day in the TSDS version, so please reload to check the latest version. Additionally, there’s dancing space available everywhere. This aspect was more convenient than the Shinjuku Jazz Festival.

That’s all for now.


メールアドレスが公開されることはありません。 が付いている欄は必須項目です