You might have seen it before at visual kei lives or on DVDs: fans jumping, banging their heads or making complicated arm movements. All in unison. It's one of the most trademark aspects of Visual kei and it's called furitsuke, or furi in short, which translates to choreography in English.
The moves are varied and differ according to sub-genre, band, song and sometimes even place. Sometimes a song has a specific choreography thought out by the band, who then teach it to their fans at lives. You really have to learn these routines before you attend a live if you want to participate, otherwise it'll be impossible to keep up. This is especially common with oshare kei or indie bands.
Thankfully not every song has it's own unique choreo. Most furitsuke contains just general moves, that are connected to certain rhythms or song patterns. Once you get better at recognizing these patterns, you'll have no problem keeping up during lives, even if you didn't look the furi up.
When done right, furitsuke can look really spectacular with the whole venue moving in unison. Some people feel as though furitsuke is a means to give something back to the band and to show them a beautiful performance in return, so they try to be as elegant or cool as possible. It creates a certain atmosphere during the live, so it's only natural that some moves may be more appropriate during a certain band's live than others. Some bands even go as far as to ban, or openly disprove of, certain furi.
More and more people outside of Japan have started doing furitsuke at visual kei lives overseas. If you aren't able to attend Japanese lives to learn the furi, the best way to learn is from live DVDs. Some people have also started posting tutorials on youtube and when a furi is particularly complicated, the band members might record a video themselves. I'll post some links at the bottom of this article as a reference. Furitsuke changes over time and sometimes even differs depending on location (e.g. Tokyo vs Osaka) so try to stay updated!
It really isn't for everyone though. If you're the type to enjoy letting yourself go completely during a live show, then sticking to a choreography would probably spoil your fun. Don't worry too much about participating. Even in Japan it's perfectly acceptable, albeit slightly rare, to do your own thing. Just make sure you're not in the first few rows, moshing violently into other people's furitsuke bubble.
Furitsuke is often mistakenly compared to parapara. While both are song specific and involve hand movements, both styles bring up completely different images. Parapara is related to otaku and gal culture and from what I understand it's outdated. Furitsuke really just refers to choreography in general and is also used in connection to jpop. Do not call the furitsuke at visual kei events parapara, unless you want to get some strange looks.
I've compiled a list of some of the most general furitsuke. Did I miss something? Let me know in the comments!
Shout out to Anid Harker for being awesome and lending me her giffing skills. Go check out her blog!
What is a good heavy visual kei live without some crazy disorganized headbanging. But the bangya have taken this seemingly simple move to the next level and added all sorts of (synchronized) variations.
Lit. headbanging. Just regular headbanging
Lit. hand banging. When you raise your hands in the air and move them back and forth on the beat. You can do this instead of headbanging when you get tired or when you don't want to mess up your hair (ww), more common at lives of bands with a softer sound. With heavy bands headbanging really is preferred.
Lit. folding. A type of slow headbanging, where you completely bend over on the beat. People in saizen will bend over the barrier.
click here for gif
Dogeza hedoban 『土下座へドバン』
Lit. kneeling headbanging. A type of headbanging where you get down on your hands and knees to headbang. This is only done at seated lives, because there is not enough space for this at all standing lives.
click here for gif
This is what I find the most fun part of furitsuke. Diving usually happens at designated spots in the song and looks pretty spectacular.
Lit. reverse dive. This is fairly hard to explain and I'm not really sure how the name fits (maybe the move changed over time?). When doing gyakudai, you start by stretching out your arm in front of you, palm down. Then, in a climax point in the song, you retract your arm and twist around your hand, making a fist (palm inwards), so that your elbow points down. While retracting your fist, you do a single headbang (either with just your head, or with your full body!). Can be substitute with a jump which is more common for people in the back due to space restrictions. This move is pretty popular, especially at indie lives, and sometimes bands even make songs meant especially for doing gyakudai.
click here for gif 1
click here for gif 2
Lit. back dive. This really only happens at the heavier lives. It's a bit like gyakudai, but with sedai the first row hangs over the barrier in futon, then the rows behind them jump on top of them back-first.
Lit. chair dive. This is similar to sedai, but with isudai people use their chair as a launching pad. This is an indie band thing as well and since seats are needed it doesn't happen that often, just at the ROCK MAY KAN venue. The gif below was recorded at ROCK MAY KAN and if you look closely you can see one girl jumping on top of everyone from her chair. The other people in the gif are doing sedai.
click here for gif of sedai and isudai
Lit. rolling dive. This is like crowd surfing. The only difference is that the person doing it continuously rolls over while doing it.
Bangya often try to call the attention of the band members and show who is their favorite during lives. I'm going to refer to this as appeal but it is by no means the "official" name. Most of these aren't technically furitsuke but I decided to include them for clarity.
Saki / saku 『咲き・咲く』
Lit. "blossoming" or "to bloom". Opening your arms above your head when for example your favorite member enters the stage. It supposedly looks like the petals of a blossoming flower.
Some bands, mostly heavier ones, ban saki/saku during lives because they dislike the move (e.g. The GazettE).
click here for gif
Lit. Solo saki or solo blossoming. This is a variation done on saki during guitar solos where you continiously do saki, so it looks like you're opening your arms above your head, then crossing your arms in front of you again. I've seen this being referred to as "wiper" ワイパー too, but there seems to be a general consensus online that it is in fact a form of saki. There are some variations on this too. Instead of just opening your arms in saki, you can also combine it with wiggling your fingers or hands ("kirakira"), or do a really fast teban. I've seen all variations and usually it, again, depends on the atmosphere to the band
There seem to be a lot of bangya online wondering about the disappearance of solo saki. It seems that most people now just do regular saki during guitar solo's, and solo saki only happens at very few lives nowadays.
Lit. blossoming voice. Calling for one's favorite member when doing saki. This tends to be done in a very high pitched voice. Non-Japanese fans often complain about how annoying this is.
Lit. member call. Calling out a member's name.
Lit. death voice. The grunting-"ish" thing fans do at heavier lives when they call out to the band. Can be used when doing menko too.
And lastly, everything that didn't fit in the above categories!
Lit. hand fan. This one again is pretty hard to explain. Tesensu is when fans open and close their arms in front of them (or above their heads when there isn't enough space) while moving their hands in a sort of 8-shape to retain elegance. At heavier bands this is often substituted for either kuboshi or teban (though not always!)
click here for gif
Lit. mosh. This isn't like western style moshing, which isn't allowed in most Japanese venues. In visual kei moshing is really just people jumping around each other in circles without bumping into people. It also happens that the entire crowd moves from right to left in unison.
click here for gif
Futon forms a pair with sedai. When the crowd wants to do sedai, the first row hangs themselves over the barrier to form a landing cushion for the people behind them. It's named after the traditional bedding because the people doing it look like a futon hung out to air.
Kobushi / kobushiban 『拳・拳バン』
Lit. fist, fist bang. Fist pumping!
Videos used for gifs:
ayabie (彩冷える) - sendan wa futaba yori kanbashi (-The Brilliant Parade-)
DEViL KiTTY - Hallo Katty at ROCK MAY KAN
Gyakudai shiyou (Kagurazaka EXPLOSION)
The GazettE - kantou dogezai kumi ai (REPEATED COUNTLESS ERROR)
-OZ- - Blot (A FACT OF LIFE -Territory TOKYO-)
Black Gene For the Next Scene - 「namida khz」
Golden Bomber (ゴールデンボンバー) - konya wa tonight
Golden Bomber (ゴールデンボンバー) - dokugumo onna (this has basically all moves in it)
Kiryu (己龍) - kisai (includes sedai!)
Phantasmagoria - Actuate Eden
UNiTE. (ユナイト) - 『Ms.Fabbit』