Who goes to the conventions in the Netherlands, must have heard of The Gentlemen’s League (GL)! And just because I also see posts from GL come by on the internet, I had enough reasons for an interview. I talk with The Gentlemen’s League about GL, dansou and more! Make yourself comfortable, grab a cup of tea and a snack and enjoy this extensive interview with Yomi, Hirozuki, Aiden, Yun, Ryuuto and Yuuyami of The Gentlemen’s League.
AVO Blog: Who are you and what is your goal in The Gentlemen’s League?
Yomi: Hello! I’m Yomi-Ouji, just call me Yomi or ‘you with the face’. I’m 19 years old and I live in The Netherlands. I am the founder of the GL and the spokesperson. My main style is Aristocrat and I like to dress androgynoulsy more than entirely as if I was a man. Out of the group, you can recognise me by my long hair. I’ve been doing Dansou for about five years, even though at the start I didn’t know it was called Dansou. When you send the GL a message, chances are 89 percent that I will be the one to answer it and I shall do so quickly and honestly. *thumbs up and winks* My goal wiht the GL is taking over the world. No, actually, I want to make Dansou more well-known and I want to promote the style. Show people that it’s a cool sort of fashion and that you can go a lot of ways with it. The GL stands for sophisticated style. So I want to show that Dansou is more than just looking like a man/boy. I want to show the gent-side of Dansou.
Hirozuki: I’m Hirozuki-senpai, you can also call me Dai. I’m a transgender and dress mostly Visual Kei or VK-ish. You can find me at concerts and most conventions in The Netherlands. I’m just one of the gentlemen here and the goal is to stay awesome. Also to keep somehow more active because I’m not very active in general… Also want to promote the more gentlemen style in Dansou, because I see alot doing more streetstyles and that is okay but I want to inspire people with our elegant style so more people will do this.
Aiden: My name is Aiden and I’m one of the newer members in The Gentlemen’s League. Our goal is to spread Dansou, but in a more sophisticated, elegant style, more like The Gentlemen Style!
Yun: I go by the name Yun and my purpose through Gentlemen’s League is to show other enthusiasts that Dansou can be embraced through other styles than the mainstream once as well.
Ryuuto: I’m Ryuuto, I am another new member of Gentlemen’s League in the United States. I am agendered. I am currently striving for a VK/host/onii-kei… blah blah… I like a lot of styles, but I am mainly for host kei! My goal in GL is to spread to love for Dansou as well as discover and explore the styles that fit me the best.
Yuuyami: Hi~! My name is Yuuyami-Hakushaku, but please just call me Yuuyami (or any and all abbreviations of the former will do). I’m currently the oldest Gentlemen’s League member, at 26 years of age. My style has been described as all over the place, but mainly I go for the more vintage gentlemanly look with either a proper suit, or some toned down Aristocrat influenced outfit. I’m all for free clothing and style choices, and hope to one day bring full appreciation for suits, ties and assorted awesome-sauce combinations of formal and casual wear back into focus, not only in the Dansou community but all-over. When all else fails: wear a suit.
AVO Blog: How and when did The Gentlemen’s League start?
Yomi: Once upon a time, there was this Facebook group where all Dansous meet and Yomi laid eyes upon someone posting a picture of them in a suit. Suddenly, Yomi thought ‘THIS IS SO NICE THERE MUST BE MORE OF THIS’ but, alas, as Yomi scrolled through the group, Yomi only found people wearing streetstyle, crossplays, trying out wigs, binders and make-up. So Yomi thought ‘Since there is not a lot of this on the public Dansou page… We must find another way to make more of this.’ And then there was Yuuyami who agreed. And then there was Hirozuki who thought it was cool. It along came Yun who joined the force. And so these heroes decided to create THE GENTLEMEN’ S LEAGUE. (It went more or less this way. I might have represented it more dramatically).
Fun fact: Only now I realise that Gentlemen’s League is actually incorrect English. It should be Gentleman’s League (the gent his league) or Gentlemens League (the league of gentlemen). I think we can decide that Gentlemen’s League is a mixture of both those things. The League is for Gents, made by Gents.
Hirozuki: We showed our suits to people and they showed their suit to us aswell.. but then it stopped. Then we saw too less elegant styles …that we decided to form a new group, where we show of our gentlemen’s styles! It started with Yomi, Yuugami and me! and so our league got slowly, more members.
Aiden: It started last year, like I mentioned before I wasn’t part of the group around that time. I joined in the beginning of 2015.
Yun: Yomi’s version of the story describes the process the best.
Ryuuto: Last year, I remembered Yomi posted about it in the Dansou fb group haha. That’s about it.
Yuuyami: When Yomi first mentioned the idea of the Gentlemen’s League I was one of the first to jump the band-wagon. I thought it was a brilliant idea, and I’d always been quite pro-suits and formal wear, so it wasn’t exactly a tough choice to wear. For me personally, a great way to try and improve my Dansou skills, while aiming for world domination! …I mean… the spread of Gentlemanly Dansou wear!
AVO Blog: Explain to those who don’t know it, what Dansou is exactly.
Yomi: *takes a deep breathe* Dansou is when a person born as female dresses so that they will pass as a person born male in clothing typically meant for men. A Dansou is not per definition transgender or lesbian. A Dansou can be transgender, or lesbian, or straight, or female, or genderqueer or anything else! Clothing does not define gender/sexuality. Dansou is a fashion style/statement. This ‘dressing to pass as male’ also has to be a bit fashionable. Don’t just wear a tracksuit and hope it covers enough of your feminine shapes. Dansou takes effort. It is also a lifestyle to some. With dressing up as man, comes acting like a man, speaking like a man and posing like a man. I think when you combine this all, you are Dansou.
Hirozuki: It’s when female, gender neutral, FtM ((Female to Male)and more genders probably) dresses in male J-fashion. The goal is not just to dress in those fashion, but actually making effort to pass as a real man. So not only clothes will come by, but also hairstyles, binders, makeup (contouring), acccesoires, even secret insoles to make you look taller. Dansou should not be confused with the tomboy style! Some do it for fun, and for other it is their lifestyle and even work.
Aiden: What is Dansou? 男装(dansou) is when females/gender-neutral persons wear Japanese male fashion. Some of them are transgender, others just like to wear this style and are completely normal beside of this. It can be anything. Like a cute boyish Oshare-Kei style, Prince like style, street fashion, Visual Kei, goth… it doesnt matter!
Yun: The definition of Dansou was already stated, and I would dare to add that ‘Dansou’ also implies a certain attitude, and character. This being said, I think one needs a certain atittude and vibe about them which will truly give an unique impression to the others (in fact every style has its own attitude, right?)
Ryuuto: Oh God… Dansou is a fashion style where assigned female at birth (includes nonbinary, female, FTM genders) dress in Japanese male styles. Personally, I think of it as a lifestyle. It’s not the same as sexuality, gender, or any of that. Dressing as a male does not automatically make a biological female a lesbian or tomboy!! *rant rant.
Yuuyami: *points to the above comments* My lovely fellow GL-members have pretty much said it all. Dansou is self expression, fashion and an excitingly versatile form at that! Often connected to certain gender-preferences, but not intrinsically connected. Dansou can be a way to give power and a form of self-assertion to a woman, but can also be a way to feel more comfortable with yourself when you’re genderqueer or transgender. Unique to Dansou is that within Dansou, all fashion genres are represented, as long as they go for a male look. Trying to pass as a real man, of course, is the challenge!
AVO Blog: How did you get in touch with Dansou? What made you start doing it?
Yomi: I started wearing tomboyish things because I liked it. I started crossplaying because I liked it. I only realised what Dansou was, when Aiden gave me the link to the public Facebook Dansou page.
Hirozuki: I already started dressing like this since I found out my gender identity .. so I actually look everyday like this and I did not know about Dansou either back then. Later Dansou become more populair and so it appeared a lot on Facebook as well along with the public group. But I can say that when I watched ‘You’re Beautiful’ , a Korean drama, that I was inspired by the lead role Go Mi Nam. (It’s about a girl who needs to disguise as a guy in a band and it has also a Japanese version for the people who prefers that .. search for Ikemen Desu Ne)
Aiden: I got in touch with Dansou throughout Visual Kei around the age of… 14 I think. I used to love their looks, they looked so great! Around that time I didn’t know there are also a few female Visual Kei bands and I wanted to look like these guys. So I started wearing clothes resembling Visual Kei/Punk/Rock. Later I found out that it also belongs to Dansou and I started to learn more and more each day.
Yun: One of my friends showed me a picture with a host club with only Dansou members, and I thought I would like trying it, since I was into the Japanese culture already and fascinated by the ‘host thing’( for those who don’t know, hosts in Japan are males paid to entertain women ) so I pretty much started experimenting with it and yea…here I am, still trying new fashion styles in form of Dansou.
Ryuuto: I’ve always been a “tomboy” before I realized that I did not like the idea of gender overall, which was… last year ish? I saw a video Shun made that talked about Dansou fashion last year and I thought it fit me really well! So, I joined their FB group and researched more fashion styles that fit my taste. I liked VK music/style since 6th grade though haha.
Yuuyami: I got into Dansou throuh crossplaying anime characters, combined with a love for the Japanese all-female theatre: Takarazuka Kagekidan. After having played a couple of male characters on stage myself (amateur stuff), I noticed I loved the style of the outfits and mannerisms, and wanted to drag this feeling into my off-stage life as well. I started to wear more male inspired outfit combinations and hairstyles on special occasions. It took me a while to find out that what I was going for, was actually a thing called Dansou! Once I knew however, it gave me access to tips and tricks and I started slowly getting better. For me Dansou is still not a daily thing, but more of a special occasion thing. I very much enjoy it!
AVO Blog: What do you want to achieve/acomplish with the GL and how do you want to do that.
Yomi: I think I already answered this is question one. I want to show the world that Dansou is a lifestyle, a legit fashion style and that it is beautiful. I want to inform people about the style, help people who are starting with the style and make Dansou more well known.
Hirozuki: We want to promote the more elegant style of dansou to the world. We do so by doing photoshoots and attending conventions. But we want to do more. We also want to help Dansou’s and spread the word about Dansou . We will do this by giving lectures at conventions. Our first lecture has to come yet so we will set a really big first step into that. I also hope we could not only hold lectures later, but also different kind of events. I just want the people to love us as a group , which they want to see at conventions/events.
Aiden: I want to support the more sophisticated style of Dansou. Because you see many people resembling the more common styles like Visual Kei and Streetwear but not so many people go for the more classic, elegant looks. We want to spread our idea throughout the internet but also by attending several events and conventions and holding some lectures for now.
Yun: I wish we could gather more followers of this trend and have bigger meetings and events… And a host club. Or a café. (I am asking for too much now, aren’t I?)
Ryuuto: Again, I want to just spread awareness of Dansou and sophisticated male styles overall (Because men in suits are nice). I plan on collaborating with local Dansou participants for group shoots, and also just dressing up in Dansou for local fashion walks! Maybe start a panel over here as well one day…
Yuuyami: Being a Gentleman is a lifestyle, that you can drag into your everyday life. You need not Dansou to be a Gentleman, but while you’re at it, why not? The GL combine the elegant style of a Gentleman with Dansou looks, and hope this combination inspires others to do the same. Personally, I hope the Gent-lifestyle influences both men and women, in order to increase both respect and self-respect when it comes to the fashion and life-choices of the people around us. Always be a Gentleman, no-matter who, what or where. I hope to send this message through our online presence as well as lectures at events and generally being a Gent and hope it catches on.
AVO Blog: How large is the group after a year of activity?
Yomi: 6 members large. Alright, we started with four. It became seven. Then it was four, then five and now six. We’ve got around 300 likes on our Facebook page *yay* and we’ve given a lecture at Osharecon, helped with a leture at Nishicon and performed in a fashion show at both those cons. We have done a lot of things, but I don’t think we are a well known group yet. I want to continue to promote stuff. I would feel we have really grown when someone walks up to us and says ‘ I heard you did a lecture at con A, can you give a lecture at my con?’ Or when someone asks us if they can do a photoshoot with us. So… When people talk about us. I hope to accomplish that next year.
Hirozuki: I’m not good in counting so I will say I saw the members coming and going… and coming again.
Aiden: I think it’s quite okay. I know there were more members in the past before I joined, but now we’re with 6 members. 4 of us are from the Netherlands, one from Romania and one from the United States.
Yun: The group has enough members after one year of existing. And what is more, they are all very reliable, hard working and inspiring people.
Ryuuto: Um, a decent size I would say? There were a few members that came and left unfortunately. One of them that left is actually a friend of mine in the same area where I live.
Yuuyami: We currently have 6 members, 4 of whom are Dutch. Gents have come and go, but all in good friendship. I’m very sure our now former members still carry out the Gentleman lifestyle! We’ve started giving lectures, mainly in the Netherlands, since last year and we’re currently expanding those activities.
AVO Blog: What is the best/nicest reaction you’ve gotten so far?
Yomi: I think for me personally, I get a few people who tell me that Aristocrat really fits me. I like that *ego boost*.
Hirozuki: I get to hear a lot from people that I have a really awesome fashion sense and from some that I am actually a senpai to them so that makes me very happy.
Aiden: With The Gentlemen’s League at the Fashion Convention Osharecon we got many nice reactions that we looked very good! I liked it when we had to walk a Fashion show together and stood on stage with all Dutch members. It’s a good memory. But Daisetsu and me were both wearing a more Visual Kei like style back then.
Yun: I think it was when some of my friends thought the GL was actually a model agency and they were really impressed by the style we pull off.
Ryuuto: People who say I looked sexy in host style huehuehue *finger guns and wink*
Yuuyami: Personally, I’m a bit of a dunce when noticing other people’s reactions. I’ve had some nice people tell me they like my make-up and my jawline? (the jawline was basically all shading, so falls under make-up in this case). Generally people are very nice and interested! I don’t think I’ve been able to fool someone into thinking I’m a guy so far though… I still feel like I need to improve my Dansou game, haha!
AVO Blog: What tips do you want to give to starting Dansous? What are the do’s and don’t’s?
Yomi: Do: Create your own unique style. Give yourself tine to find this style. Ask questions and seek help when you need it. Talk to Dansous. Make new friends with similar interests. Research. Get informed. Join theDansou page. Talk to Dansou Senpais when you are in doubt. Try things out!
Don’t’s: Bind your chest with anything that is not a binder. If you bind your chest with wrong stuff, it can cause problems for your lungs, ribs, back and chest. It is seriously dangerous. Don’t be shy, the Dansou community is helpful and accepting. Don’t think you can achieve full Dansou look in one hour. It takes time and research. Don’t be discouraged or afraid. There will always be haters and people who just don’t understand the style.
Hirozuki: Look for inspiration in which J-fashion you want to dress but don’t copy them.. create your own style and of course the first time might not be perfect, so don’t give up and practice a lot! Also make dansou friends! you can help eachother out. Also it cannot be said enough but be careful if you wear a binder! It can also cause serious harm if you wear a cheap binder for a long time.. If you wear a binder often please, get a good one!
Aiden: An absolute DON’T is to try and bind yourself with duct tape or such. Many Dansou want to have a flat chest when wearing the style but it’s really recommended to wear a binder, a special top or shirt that flattens you in a more careful way. Using tape can damage your ribs and chest and give you breathing problems, so please be careful! An absolute DO in my opinion is trying out styles. You can never try out enough styles to find out what suits you the best. Be creative, experiment and find out!
Yun: Since I’m pretty strict when it comes to fashion in general I’ll try not to sound too harsh. So the most essential thing is keeping in mind that it takes a lot of time to achieve the best look. Start trying different styles to see which one fits you the best. Some of us might pull off the ouji style better than the punk/gothic one.
Ryuuto: Binding. Definitely read up on how to bind PROPERLY. I think another main thing would be fitness and diet? Being in shape or working out can definitely help create a more masculine image (or not, I mean, it’s up to you). Look up stuff, get inspiration, try new things and see how they work. Have confidence in yourself. People may not necessarily react kindly; but as long as you feel comfortable and enjoy what you’re doing, that’s all that matters.
Yuuyami: Absolute DO: Be yourself, even if that does not fall into the Dansou category. Don’t ever let stereotypes ruin the fun. If you want to go Dansou, go Dansou, if you want to just wear male-inspired clothes, don’t ever feel like you need to go ‘all the way’ with outfit and make-up. The whole point is feeling like yourself, so express who you are, not just what people think you need to do. Know, however, that the main point of wearing Dansou in the strictest sense is trying to really look like a guy, so here we come to a little don’t: If you want to really call yourself Dansou, effort is appreciated to make yourself look like a guy. No need to try and be perfect though. No-one ever is.
AVO Blog: Which message do you want to convey to those who do not yet dare to make the first step?
Yomi: There can be many reasons for not daring to take the first step. I will talk to those who have parents/siblings/family/friends who are not accepting of you dressing up like a man. Explain to them that it is a fashion and not that you are transgender/lesbian/etc. Many people might think this and find that the reason why they dissprove of the Dansou style (at least that was the case in my own experience). Even if you do not identify as woman, if you told your parents/caretaker or not, that should not define your fashion style. I understand, that is a bit of a contradicton. You might wear Dansou to feel better because it gives you the opportunity to dress more manly and I totally support you if you do that because I feel the same. But to your parents or whoever dissproves of the style, I think you should just say that it is a ‘fashion statement’ and that you are still ‘a girl’ because Dansou is per definition ‘someone born as a girl who dresses up as a man.’ I hope this helps.
Hirozuki: There are always people who are going to like it and others don’t … so you shouldn’t care to much what others think .. If you are really afraid, grab a friend and do Dansou together ! Ask for tips from your friends. It is also less scarier if you are with more people who wear the same style (or other J-fashion). Conventions are also a good place to try it for the first time, since alot of people wear J-fashion there. If you are not confident enough to go to the men’s section at stores you could lend clothes from friends. You can do it!
Aiden: Don’t be shy, try to start with small steps such as changing your shoes or wear different shirts. And if you’re still not confident enough to make a first step try to talk to others about the style, maybe it will help you to gain enough confidence to make that first step.
Yun: I would say that one should never hold back when it comes to exploring different sides of fashion. If you want to try Dansou, just go ahead, what can go wrong? You might discover that you feel more comfortable like this (this was my case).
Ryuuto: Uh, kinda like the last answer haha. Have confidence in yourself! Maybe start with “cross-play”/male character cosplay first…? Take small steps, don’t just change your whole appearance in a few weeks. Take your time. Be patient. Find other people who have similar interests and help support each other.
Yuuyami: I think I covered part of that in the last question: Be yourself. Don’t feel pushed, but express who you, yourself, are. And take pride in what you’re doing since it’s a brave thing being yourself, against normal stereotyping. To me, personally, suits are power-wear. So I’d say, start with a suit!
AVO Blog: One of the more famous Dansou models is Akira, who has a band named DISACODE. Can we say that Akira is a role model for the dansou world? Is Akira your role model as well or is someone else your role model?
Yomi: Akira? Well… I think for a lot of Dansous, she is a role model. For me, not so much. I’ve never really been interested in her work so I never researched it either. *Googles Akira* Oh well, that’s not my style at all. And I don’t think it is the style of the Gentlemen’s League at all either, so… Well… My role model would be Kamijo. His stye inspires me. Also, Lady Oscar and Utena (anime characters) are inspirations to me because they are girls who want to be or are forced to be princes, gentlemen and strong people, yet I think they remain kind and true to themselves. My biggest source of inspiration overall is the Aristocrat Visual Kei music like Malice Mizer, Versailles, D… And I like Gothic things… Things with drama~
Hirozuki: Akira is a populair role model for the Dansou world alright. But I think Fudanjuku (Jpop Dansou group) is actually more populair for the Dansou world. They are really well known. If we talk about Dansou role models then Oni (Ganglion) is my favorite Dansou . Even before I knew the term Dansou I knowledged her boyish style.
Aiden: Akira is indeed a very famous role model in the dansou world and I’m sure almost every Dansou has heard of her, but to me she isn’t such a big role model. I get my inspirations from different persons such as singer HITT, Sho Asakawa from PLASTICZOOMS, although I don’t have the style like Sho I still admire his style a lot and models such as Sebastiano Serafini, Terry Terata and Park Young-Hee form a big inspiration for me. In the more elegant style bands like Malice Mizer, Moi dix Mois and Versailles inspire me.
Yun: Akira is surely a well known name among this community, as well as Fudanjuku, another dansou band. However, I can’t speak in the name of others. Many of us do admire her, including me, but in my case, the prime roles are the hosts. I absolutely adore their fashion sense and attitude.
Ryuuto: Ahh… Akira. I respect her as a model, yes. I also respect her take on the idea of gender, yes. However, I never looked to her as a role-model or idol. She’s definitely attractive, but I’m not a huge huge fan of her. To be completely honest, I don’t get inspired by other Dansou members. I just get fashion inspirations by other “biological male” band groups or brands like GazettE, Sid, er, brands like WRogue, Midas, and so forth.
Yuuyami: I’ve seen some of Akira’s work and she can definitely be seen as a role-model within the Dansou world. She is absolutely not the only one though! Personally, she’s not really a role-model, though I like her fashion and cool looks. To me, my biggest source of inspiration is the Takarazuka all-female theatre. They also often carry the Gentleman elegance into their male roles, and are often a less popular-culture inspired, sophisticated form of Dansou. Among them, Todoroki Yuu is my greatest role-model.
AVO Blog: Dansou seems to get into the spotlight more and more, for example at some conventions like Nishicon and Osharecon (possibly even more this year!). With more spotlight, comes more attention. There have been multiple Dansou groups appearing, we are doing this interview… What’s your view on this? Do you think this is something positive?
Yomi: I think Dansou is becoming more well known and I like that, but we are not nearly there yet.
Hirozuki: I think it is very positive! First almost no people here knew about Dansou but now its a whole lot more people.
Aiden: I think this is something positive because Dansou in general will get more well known and get more attention since untill now its very unknown outside of Japan.
Yun: Since it is relatively a ‘’newer’’ style, I think that it needs more attention. So I am happy to see that more and more people are taking interest in this fashion trend.
Ryuuto: I’m indifferent. It’s good to get more recognition, but at the same time I enjoy being different HAHA;; Having people understand more and not have stereotypes is always a good thing though. *nods
Yuuyami: More attention means more wide-spread. Hopefully Dansou will become a more well known and therefore more widely accepted form of fashion this way!
AVO Blog: The Gentlemen’s League does Dansou, but on what way is it different from Bokutachi, the other well-known Dansou Unit on Facebook?
Yomi: We have different kind of people, I think. Bokutachi seems more populair and maybe more mainstream (I’m not using mainstream in the bad sense of the word). I think Bokutachi has a different feel. Also, we promote the more high class styles, such as Aristocrat, Host and Visual Kei. Our styles might be less accesible. We try to be more Avant-Garde?
Aiden: The Gentlemen’s League is more aimed at the Sophisticated, elegant styles and Bokutachi aims more at different styles at once.
Yun: We have different approaches, but the aim remains the same.
Yuuyami: My GL colleagues already nailed the answer there: It’s the ‘Gent’ part, the sophisticated style we carry out. Bokutachi has some members that look good in a suit, obviously, but gentlemanly fashion styles and mannerisms are our main focus, and that’s the main difference.
Hirozuki: Just as the others says… we aim more at the elegant styles…
AVO Blog: What kind of activities can we expect from you guys in the next year?
Yomi: We are certainly going to give a Dansou 101 lecture at a new event/con called SQUEEKERS in The Netherlands. It will be useful for those who want to start Dansou and for those who want to start crossplaying. It will contain basic info about Dansou and a lot of practical tips about binders, contouring, posing and more. We will also participate in a fashion show at Animecon and we’ll give the same lecture there as at SQUEEKERS. Furthermore, we have a lot of cool photoshoot plans in mind… So you’ll see nice pics on our page soon. Also check our page if you want to know exactly where and when we will give the lectures/shows/etc.
Hirozuki: Lectures for sure and events!
Ryuuto: Ehh, I don’t know. Maaaaybe a panel or event on the east coast here. The others will let you guys know haha. They’re doing a fabulous job going to cons and such.
Yuuyami: Next to some lectures at events, and all that Yomi mentioned, I hope to be more active on our Facebook page as well. I’ve been slacking off a bit, haha! Expect to see more from me soon!
I want to thank Yomi, Hirozuki, Aiden, Yun, Ryuuto and Yuuyami for their time to answer my questions, as I know that they were all quite busy! You can follow The Gentlemen’s League on the following websites:Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Ask.FM. Also it is possible to send an email to GL, but you can also leave a message below this interview.