The Last Emperors
Chapter Two: This is a man’s world.
By Jolie Adam
Larry and Laurent were boarding the plane when to their surprise the flight attendant directed them to their seats…in business class. They’d traveled countless times to Japan prior to this trip but this occasion was marking a monumental business deal. Nakuti Records, the biggest record studio in Asia owned by media tycoon Ty Shori, wanted to make them the next big thing in street art. Dance shows, showcases, television shows and appearances, interviews by the boatload, magazines, Japanese movie guest appearances, battles, modeling. Every single aspect of Japanese media would be familiar with Les Twins by the time their contracts expired six months from now. All because Ty’s daughter was a huge fan of their talent and he was hoping that by offering them this opportunity of a lifetime, they could possibly do him a favour and give her dance lessons weekly during their stay in Japan. Ty was going through a tough divorce settlement and he wanted to keep his daughter happy so she could report that to her mother who in return would make legal formalities easier once it was time for the judge to decide whether equal child custody was an option. Ty hadn’t been the best husband or father but it would kill him to lose both his wife and his daughter permanently. In the process of building a strong, successful and powerful media empire, he’d sacrificed a few things dear to him. But now that he was the most important man in Japan, lonely nights weren’t less painful even with billions of yens in the bank.
“Enjoy your flight,” The flight attendant in the crisp blue and white Air France uniform smiled politely before returning to welcome other business class passengers. Laurent sank and reclined into the plump, cushiony seat getting comfortable. Larry was a lot more obvious, looking around – unsure at what or whom – and nodding in agreement with the upgraded seats, impressed. This would be the longest period of time they’d been away from home and they were both excited and optimistic about the change. The fashion in Japan was crazy, the people were friendly, the food was cheap and delicious, the city was sparkling clean and the technology was always a decade ahead. Everything was cool in Japan, even the toilets. It would be like living in the year 2020 for a few months. They wanted to miss Paris and figured that a sabbatical would make them miss their homes by the end of the 6 months.
Lau pressed the iPad built into the seat in front of him. The screen lit up with an array of options. News, Music, Movies, Games. Fooling around with the screen, his finger landed on the News icon. Even then, he still had more to choose from. News from France, US, Japan, Mexico. International News. Breaking News, Latest News. He was feeling overwhelmed and he hadn’t even started reading the news yet. Figuring it would be a while until he read the French news again, he selected LeMonde and began skimming over recent news until a certain headlines grabbed his attention.
“THE LAST EMPERORS – PARIS’ NEWEST TRAILBLAZERS BRING BACK THE PASSION IN DANCE.”
Last time an article held that much promise, he and his brother were in it. He clicked the title to open up the link, glancing at Larry who was comfortably passed out, before the plane had even departed. By the time, he looked back the screen had finished loading the article. He read quickly, lifting his eyebrows at the parts he felt were surely exaggerated just to sell papers and scoffing at the parts he simply found hard to believe. Usually when three dancers moved, it was very unlikely that they did so exactly on the same mark, with the same ability or speed. There was always someone better than the other and only an expert eye could catch the lag between their movements. It was simply impossible for three people to move as one as this article stated. Even as a twin, he was able to move at the same time but not always to the same exact beat or the same way. Perfect synchronisation was simply an illusion in the dance world. If it could look like you were all doing the same thing at the same time, it was good enough. That’s because no matter how similar people may be, they are not exactly the same. And that fact prevails in the matter of rhythm and dance. Lau smelled bullshit in this embellished article, although it was a good effort to sell these dancers to the world. If he wasn’t in the field, he would’ve certainly been intrigued. But after battling dancers that have been praised all over the world, dancers they looked up to growing up, and dancers they’d been inspired by – and beating them every time…it was hard to believe hype. All you needed was a journalist on your team and everyone would be eating out of your palm and falling over you. The only part that irked Lau was that he should’ve been at that tournament last night but he didn’t want to risk losing track of time when he still had packing to do. Besides, if he’d gone, he wouldn’t have been able to catch up on sleep which is obviously what his brother failed to do. Larry was so fast asleep that Lau was sure his twin would stay in that state until their arrival.
Lorra walked into the apartment, music still blasting against the root of her eardrums. Why is it that even on her day off, she just wanted to tie her hair back and break into a sweat? Dawn looked up from the paper she was reading and smiled when she noticed that Lorra was also holding a bag from the pastry store down the streets. Sweets were in order and this Sunday was way too calm considering the uproar they’d caused last night.
“You read my mind. I was dying for a tiramisu,” Her hands dug greedily into the paper bag as Lorra folded the clothes over a chair before turning off her iPod. “We’re in LeMonde today. Check this out.” Before Lo could even gaze over the headline, Julia walked in – her usual boisterous, overly animated self.
“I just ran the block five times. I. am. Burning. Up.” She removed her shoes partially out of habit and also fear that Dawn might freak out if she didn’t do so. “Hey Lo. You killed last night. That article is making you out to be the next MJ,” She took a swig of Gatorade. Even though she didn’t look it, she was a tomboy at heart and held the vacant position of man of the household. Any handiwork around the house would most likely be done by Julia.
“WE killed it,” Lo corrected before adding, “I haven’t read the article yet.”
“Well…what are you waiting for? This is LeMonde we’re talking about.”
Lo had deferred reading the article first thing in the morning like her roommates, simply because she was paranoid. She didn’t want to jinx anything. The Last Emperors had been on a great streak lately. Winning battles, gaining notoriety, booking shows – actually getting paid to perform. She wanted this to be the beginning of something, not just a media fad that expired by next week’s news.
“Stop being a pussy and read the frigging article, Lo!” Julia shouted on her way to the washroom.
“What do you expect me to be? A dick?” Lo retorted with sarcasm.
“Language Julia!” Dawn shouted back. Julia was rowdy and uncensored. They never had to wonder about her thoughts or concerns. She’d give it you straight – and sometimes, it was just so hard that you wish it was diluted or followed by a chaser. Being an orphan, she was a natural hustler and had skin thicker than her skull.
“She’s impossible!” Lo rolled her eyes.
“No, she’s right. Stop being a bitch and read the article.” Dawn thrust the paper toward Lo with her free hand. She sighed and took it, her eyes landing on their pictures. There she was in the center. In her signature blood-red hoodie signalling the thin line between her and her alter ego. Lorra Bernal vs. Shao Mein.
“THE LAST EMPERORS – PARIS’ NEWEST TRAILBLAZERS BRING BACK THE PASSION IN DANCE.”
“THE LAST EMPERORS OR THE LAST CONQUERORS? The stimulating trio has left behind a trail of defeated competitors in awe and envy after winning Paris’ elite, secret, underground dance battle. The annual event is renowned for its exclusivity and never fails to bring together new talent and known faces in the only environment dancers can truly prosper and prove themselves. Different genres and types of dance are brought forward at intervals and any team or individual may jump in to replace the last defeated competitor. This allows for the dancers to stay motivated and concentrated on the battles. The Last Emperors have been sweeping battles like this from different areas in and around Paris for the last few months. And just like the newest trend, they are that topic that you hear about from a friend or a friend’s friend. With nothing identifying them but their colored hoodies and masks, it is hard to say more about the people behind the artful choreographies. Shao Mein in vibrant red, never lacklustre, brings an intensity and passion to dance unparalleled to anything we’ve seen since Michael Jackson. LuLuxe, lanky and suave, interlocks and brings playfulness to the faceless trio. Meow just like a cat’s primary method of expression, is inhumanly flexible, boneless and feline. The Last Emperors are everywhere from street performances to popular Youtube videos and although, no one seems to know anything about these great dancers, one thing’s for sure: This is one ménage a trois the public wouldn’t mind discovering.”
Lo put the paper down and grinned in spite of her slight cynicism. Think whatever she might, this article was going to propel them to new heights and bring forward countless opportunities.
“What do you think? Dope, right?” Julia asked, checking the pastry bag for a treat.
“Dope and legit.” Lo smiled, using some of Julia’s vocabulary to make her laugh.
“Everything.” The girls looked at each other in silence, letting their hunger for more speak volumes.
“Here’s to Everything!!” Dawn lifted her tiramisu slice in the air before taking a huge bite. The only thing sweeter than her pastry was success.