Senior Feature: Curt Tanaka

Known for hyping up the crowds, Tanaka says don’t ever hesitate to be loud

Curt Tanaka and his dog, Kona, his self-described inspiration for being loud

Curt Tanaka and his dog, Kona, his self-described inspiration for being loud

by Ari Webb, staff

It’s finally Friday, the end of another stressful week of extracurriculars and AP classes. But Shorewood students don’t intend to go home just yet: it’s game time.

Clouds gather overhead. A chorus of voices rises from the student section, filling Shoreline stadium with noise. “OOH AAH Birds in the birdcage!” As the chant gets louder and faster, one shrill, masculine voice stands out: Curt Tanaka. Some students rally behind Tanaka’s energy, others shoot embarrassed glances around, desperately trying to dissociate themselves.

Despite standing at only 5 feet 6 inches, Tanaka always brings his maximum amount of energy to school events.

“In any and all situations, I am there to turn up,” says Tanaka. “At the pep assemblies, you don’t see anyone getting litty. When the cheerleaders come out [to do the hand jive], you know I’m going stupid. I will be the only one standing up on the entire side of the gym.”

Tanaka sees himself as the source of much of the positive energy the crowd exerts at Shorewood events. “I motivate myself. If I’m there, and the scene is not litty, you know it has to be litty. So if no one else is going to bring the energy, you have to bring the energy,” Tanaka said. 

Most people would feel too much social pressure to be loud when no one else is. Tanaka does not hesitate. “If you are self conscious, that means you are aware. And I don’t consider myself a very aware person,” Tanaka said.

Tanaka’s outgoing nature can go against even very strong social norms. “At my grandma’s funeral a couple years back, her dog was behind us and it was sniffing hella loud and I just couldn’t stop laughing. And it was a little awkward. But yeah, I don’t think there is any social context where I feel out of place.”

Sometimes, Tanaka’s loudness can get him into trouble. Before taking standardized tests, such as the SAT, Tanaka has a ritual of hyping himself up. This ritual consists of punching the air, screaming “let’s go!” and sometimes consuming Bang energy drinks. Tanaka was almost kicked out of multiple SAT sittings because of his ritual. “I was like ‘shoot it’s kinda quiet in here I gotta get lit’ so I went ‘LETS GO’ at the top of my lungs. And Ms. Swanson came over and said ‘this is a serious environment and this is a serious test and if you are going to do that again you have to leave.’”

According to Tanaka, very few students get even close to his level of hype. “Maybe the entire cheer team combined could make one-fourth of the volume I produce but that might be a little generous.” Tanaka struggled to come up with candidates to carry on his legacy of hype when he leaves Shorewood. “Maybe Mina DiVirgilio.”

Tanaka is inspired to be loud by his dogs. “I think I take after my dogs. Especially Kona. He’s 90 pounds and he is just always barking which is kinda annoying sometimes but it’s also really funny when he just doesn’t stop barking. Maybe I’m more like Puka, though. He is really little and his bark is more annoying. Since I’m smaller, maybe the things I say are more annoying.”

In closing, Tanaka hopes that students at Shorewood don’t hesitate to make noise. “Being in big groups, someone needs to [scream really loud]. Just always let it rip dude. Don’t hold back.”