Clubbing in Seoul: Line Dancing Korean Style

The nightlife carries with it so many surprises. I love the thrill of seeing what the night scene has to offer in every place I visit. The beauty in darkness is that everyone breaks away from conformity to just be themselves. I find this true in most of the places I’ve visited except for one–Seoul, South Korea. They redefine conformity at night and in the most fun way possible–through dance.

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My cousin gave me a heads up on Seoul’s nightlife prior to our trip since he was no newbie there. He said it was fun and Koreans have dance steps for most, if not all, of the songs–in other words, all songs are choreographed! I had to see it to believe it.

Gun Bae! Let the night begin!
Gun Bae! Let the night begin!

We stayed at Myeong-dong, one of the shopping districts of Seoul, and unfortunately, there weren’t any clubs in that area–just a few pubs with a handful of people. It surely wasn’t enough nor was it the right place to find “choreographed dances”. The tourist information office directed us to the party centre of Seoul–Hongdae.

The night was alive! Blaring music, laser lights, and a sea of ravers and shakers roamed the street. Bars stood side by side from Korean bars to western bars to live music bars. I was told that there are clubs exclusively for Koreans hence, foreigners are not allowed to enter. Apparently discrimination is still an issue in Korea. Fortunately, my family did not experience this first-hand during our visit.

Before entering the club, you’re required to leave your belongings in a locker which costs 2,000 won for rental. I found it convenient since I didn’t have to carry my bag all night but I was a bit uncomfortable holding my wallet in public since I didn’t have a pocket to keep it. Now, the fun fact: The liquor prices in Hongdae are cheap–probably half or a third of how much bars in other countries would sell drinks for! Boy, was that a treat! We went there around 11:00PM though and in clubbing time, that was still early; hence, it took a while before the crowd picked up and when it did, the craziness began and out came a man giving out free shots in a cow costume (true story). THEN, the people started dancing.

I went to the far-end of the club and on an elevated floor to get a full view of the dance floor and that’s when I saw it. They do have a choreography for every song! The crowd was dancing in different styles–some danced drunkenly, some seductively, some goofily, some bared their souls and gave it their all but nonetheless, the dance steps were all the same! I was at awe and fairly intoxicated so at one point, I pulled my cousin up with me on one of the platforms and we danced ALONG with them. Yes, we blended in quite well, I’d like to believe!

As to whether that is a clubbing trend or a clubbing reality, I am not quite sure but it was definitely one of the most unusual yet fun clubbing experiences I’ve had! Koreans sure know how to party–I got to hand it to them! You just have to go with the flow and follow their lead on the dance floor! 

(UPDATE as of March 2014)

I recently interviewed Danny, my Korean classmate, about this “phenomenon” and much to my surprise, he said that Koreans really practice their dance moves at home before hitting the clubs. Apparently, they don’t like going to clubs unprepared. They usually log on to YouTube and type in “CLUB DANCE IN HONGDAE” in the search tab and voila! I don’t think this applies to all Koreans though but I would love to hear more insights (and inside info) about this!

Of course I had to check it out for myself and this is what I saw:

…Thoughts?