NEKO MEANS CAT, AND OTHER COS-PLAY REVELATIONS
So we returned to the Rave/Dungeon section of the Imperial on Saturday night to attend our second “Neko Nation”. If you remember last year we covered the event, which included nose bleedingly fast video game music played at high volumes, while people dressed in wacky costumes had the time of their freaking lives.
This year was no different really. I tried to ask more questions, talk to more people, and really try to get to the bottom of the big question. Why? Why do people come from all over the country to dress up like cartoon characters and rave?
The temptation of putting on a mask and transforming yourself, even for a night, is huge. The cultural traction of super hero movies has shown us that we have an obsession with escapism and fantasy. The young men and women at Neko are no different, except that they started their escape a long time ago. Before multiple reboots of the same superhero movies became popular, and before being a ‘nerd’ had any sort of widespread appeal. They were outsiders and found that by putting on a mask and costume, they could not only find acceptance within their own group, but could become something beyond themselves. The way people waved at each other like Japanese cats, the pride people had when they told me they were the original ‘miao miao’, I could see that these people were stepping into a level of fantasy that allowed them to overcome boundaries that can only usually be achieved through copious amounts of drugs and alcohol.
Cos-playing is going on all around us. Hipsters, Punks, Metal Heads, even Lawyers and Doctors and whatever else. We all indulge in escapism, we all go about it in our own way, we all wear an outfit and subscribe to certain cultural icons, and we all perform on Facebook and social media. Maybe wearing cat ears seems a bit zany, but some of the things I’ve seen your casual Newtown hipster wearing make animal ears seem like formal wear. I guess what I’m trying to say is, sometimes people just want to have a cat rave, and that is awesome.
By Sean Bruce
Photography by Nathan Harmond