What is ParaPara? – How to Get Started!

What is ParaPara?

Para Para (パラパラ) is a synchronized dance that originated in Japan. Unlike most club dancing and rave dancing, there are specific synchronized movements for each song much like line dancing. Para Para is said to have existed since the early 1980s when European countries (mostly Italian artists) started selling Italo disco and Euro disco music in Japan. However, it didn’t start gaining popularity outside Japan until the late 1990s.
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What is Parapara? Chris is here with helpful tips on how you can learn parapara more easily!

In Gyaru culture, it was a big part of circle culture to host events (done by ibe-sa, or event circles) where they would hold parapara performances.

Since Gyaru were such party animals, and parapara was popular in all areas of clubbing of Japan (with it covering disco, dance, trance and techno) it was inevitable that the two would meet. 

As for right now, it’s popularity has seen a big decline with the youth, and the only places you can still see it is at specific para club-events (SEF, Starfire, B-1 Dynamite, Maharaja, wildgalsnight and Agefarre are the most notable). Although some songs are still staples in the scene like “scorpion”.

Isn't it difficult?

It can get as difficult as you want! Parapara is mostly danced with a huge amount of alcohol in your system, so especially in the early years, the moves were very repetitive, predictable and easy. You also didn’t have a lot of room to move, so you often stuck to a simple right-step-left-step pattern.

In recent years when it became more of a niche, the routines got progressively more intricate, to fit with the higher levels of paralists coming to clubs. You need to keep it interesting in one way or another, and raising the difficulty in newer routines was one.

So if you want to keep it easy, stick to the old but gold songs!

How do you start?

Firstly, try to put on some songs and get the beat right. try to drill the right-step-left-step into your head to the point it becomes second nature. 

The first rule of parapara is that everything starts with the right. The second is that most of what happens with right, get’s done with the left immediately after.

So you step out with your right foot on count 1, then on count 2 you step in with the left and close your feet, repeat by stepping out with left on count 3 and closing in with right on 4. Keep repeating this to the beat. (right>, left>, left<, right<)

Once you get the basic rhythm down, try and find a routine with all the basics. 

One funny trick to learning the repetitive moves is to listen to the lyrics. A lot of moves are tied to certain words, like “baby” looks like you’re holding up Simba, “crazy” is twirling your fingers next to your head like “he’s crazy”, “me” is pointing at yourself with your thumbs and “fire” is often holding your hands in front of you like a cross.

Easy Starters:

"So Chris, how did you become the para-star you are now?" You might ask.

I started dancing parapara at 15, half a year after I started dressing gyaru, so I’ve been dancing for 7 years by now. That does mean that it is second nature to me. Like dancers in Japan, sometimes drunk dancing parapara is easier than walking.

 

That being said, don’t see that as a discouragement, I have been a beginner at some point, so I’ll share all the tips I have gotten over the years from my peers.

 

I got lucky with having a local parapara scene, so that is a bit of a cheat. We have monthly meetups to learn routines together, which brings me to Tip nr.1

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How to learn parapara

Doing it together is always easier

If you have any local friends who might be interested, schedule practice days! You can sit together, figure out the routines and have fun whilst doing so. If one can’t get a move right, you always have someone to explain it.

Join the ParaPara International Facebook group to find local paralists (what we call people who dance parapara). They are always happy to see now people and help you out! Even if it’s just posting a video asking for advice or routine recommendations.

Use VLC media player to mirror

In case you can’t find an already mirrored video, either using the chrome “flip this” extension or downloading the video and opening it in VLC will make it easy to mirror the video on the go. VLC can also help you slow down the video.

Change the speed

Go from 0.70x to 0.80x to 0.90x to 1x speed if a song is really difficult for you. That way you can thoroughly learn a song and gradually speed it up till it’s baked into your brain like it’s second nature.

Make the routine easier

Especially techpara is known for its vast amount of unnecessary hand swirling and rotating. It is completely okay to simplify the movements to fit your level!

Split it up in "melo's"

Melo’s is what we call the “parts of the song” , instead of part 1 part 2 chorus, they say A melo B melo.

It is easy to figure out where a melo ends and starts by the repeating movements, and if you cut a song into part’s it’s a lot less overwhelming. VLC also has the option to “loop” a section of the video for easy practise!

"naming the move" (Lillie-Joe’s tip)

Giving names a move can help with remembering!  LJ: “usually I create a little story while teaching a routine”
My own group does the same at workshops. “Flap-flap-flap-clap, flap-flap-flap-clap, clean the windowsill, clean the windowsill, rainbow!”
You can see exactly what I mean in the videos below!

Try Using a Workshop

As some of you may know, I have made workshop videos for other projects, which show you exactly how I learn the routines myself, including all the above mentioned tips!

links to my para workshop videos:

The last rule to ParaPara is to just have fun! 
Mistakes are okay, even the most famous paralists forget a move at times.

Para channels with the most recent routines:

Image credits to Lizzie and Chris!

Big thanks to Chris for a great article! We hope you'll try some of their tips and we'll be able to see more gals try out parapara!
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Chris
Paralist
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6 Comments

  1. Super helpful 😍❤💕 I’ve thought about trying Parapara a few times, but never knew where to start. This has great info and is super helpful 💖

  2. This is just what I needed to see especially right after looking at parapara tag on tik tok all day long!! I did indeed see a lot of scorpion dances. Thank you so much for the helpful guide! Will try this at home now ^^
    – in the making-gyaru





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