The second part of my Valentine’s Day evening was at the host club, of course. We were to arrive at opening time (5:00 p.m.). After enjoying our crepes, we walked towards the club, meeting up with a few other hosts and their customers.
One of the customers in particular I found interesting. Unlike the young hostesses with their up-dos and makeup and fancy clothes, this woman looked very different…she was plain and seemed to look a little older (though it was really hard to tell her age) and on top of that, looked tired and depressed. She was accompanied by an older host, whom my host and the others refer to as “Papa.” I forget why he’s called that, but I think it has something to do with his age and appearance. He seemed like the strong, silent type. He stood against the wall quietly as his customer sat hunched near the elevator. My host attempted to speak to her a little, but I couldn’t understand what he was saying and what her weak response was.
Once the clock hit 5, my host and I went up the elevator, only to be told that we were too early and that they were still setting up ^_^; So we went back down and waited a little longer, then went back up again.
About the elevator. I guess I can call it host club etiquette, but when going up the elevator to the club, it’s one couple at a time, i.e. a host and his customer. I learned this when another customer tried to come into the elevator with me and my host, and her host told her to wait. It makes sense, so that each customer is greeted individually when she enters.
My host and I mostly just talked, and he kept flagging down hosts that weren’t taking care of customers so he could show them the chocolate guitar I made 🙂 I showed him the stuff on my iPod Touch, and we also talked about music and shopping and hobbies. He now knows that I’m a dork…I showed him a photo of me cosplaying as Silmeria. I also showed him photos of my home university, including a photo of a black squirrel, which for some reason are found on campus but not in the surrounding areas. He asked why the squirrels are only on campus, to which I answered, “I have no idea.”
During my three-hour stay, I met three other hosts. Also during that time, my host occasionally got up to do something…and it happened more often than I would have preferred. So while he was away, I talked to whoever was at the table. One of them is an otaku of sorts…he likes anime and visits Akiba often. I guess my host thought I’d be able to relate with him somewhat well…which I didn’t, really. I forgot the second host I met…he didn’t stay long. When I met the third host for the night, I found out what all this was about. This host (I forgot his name) explained to me that he was a helper. I have my own opinion on why helpers are necessary, which I’ll explain later.
My host told me that this guy was particularly good at getting women to come to the club. I wondered what it was, because he wasn’t particularly good-looking and didn’t have the typical spiked-hair look. Perhaps that was the exact reason why he gets customers. He was very nice, and even wondered out loud what was taking my host so long to come back. I was also able to tell him about my research, and he showed no bewilderment of any sort, which is good. He stayed at my table much longer than I wanted him to, though, because I was more interested in my own host. At the end of the night, my host escorted me out of the club (after I got my shoutout from the hosts), down the elevator and to the nearest corner before we said our goodbyes. It didn’t occur to me until after I got home how he had asked me if I had fun, when Valentine’s Day was really supposed to be about the guys. But I had a lot of fun, and hopefully he did too. A few hours later he e-mailed me, thanking me for the gift and sent a photo of him holding it 🙂
So, about helpers…my explanation is all theory, so here goes. Basically, I think helpers do a variety of things. For one, it keeps hosts that don’t have customers busy. It also gives them a chance to be a designated helper at a customer’s request. I checked the club’s website and found that there is a fee for designating a helper. Not designating one just means that any host that is available will come by, I guess.
I think helpers also serve as distractions. The club is designed in such a way that the customer cannot easily look around at everything else going on around the club. I found very few chances to watch other hosts and customers, because I had to pay attention to whoever was around me at the time. If my host had to leave for a moment, he’d have someone else look after me so I wasn’t sitting alone.
Helpers probably allow the designated host to give their customer less attention as well. In the club, ordering more drinks means getting more attention. I imagine that if I had ordered more drinks, my host wouldn’t have left so often. (Of course I figured this out after I got home…) I imagine it’s different from buying an extra hour, in which there’s no guarantee that you’ll be spending all of that hour with your host. The idea, in my opinion, is to make a customer happy, but at the same time, leave them wanting more. If the customer wants time with her designated host, she’s better off buying more drinks rather than staying longer.
Either way, I had fun, and I learned a lot too. Perhaps I’ll extend my paper when I get back home.