Dance Monkey, Dance! Or Speak English...

Saturday February 23rd will forever go down as one of the most surreal experiences of my life. First off all, let me just start off the story by saying I left my apartment at 4:30pm Saturday with no real expectations for the night other than one or two plans and wound up returning to my place at 10am on Sunday without sleeping.

Maybe I'll piece this story together by going backwards. I will say that I have seen many an 7/8am night, or coming home after the sun has come up, and its something that just kind of happens here. There aren't any last calls, or any closing times for the most part, and when you're inside of a place you can never tell what time it is. Even if you're not drinking (which I tend to do) you just get caught up in music or conversation or the thrill of meeting strangers from distant lands.

Coming home at 10am happened after an hour subway ride which followed a breakfast at 730am at the first Burger King I've eaten at in about a year. Before breakfast we partook in the "Luxury Noraebang" (Korean Karaoke) in Hongdae for an hour and a half starting at 6am. This place had FREE ice cream that was phenomenal:


We wound up at the Noraebang only after spending a bit of time in the hookah bar called Nabi which is semi-hard to find, but was WELL worth the search at 5am:
(The lattern in the pool in the middle of the room)

We had met people there after spending a couple hours dancing the night away to excellent indie rock music at Club FF (Funky Funky) starting around 330am. This was downstairs from the bar GoGo's that we had spent the previous few hours watching music videos and socializing with most of the people I have come to know in this fair land. We had randomly picked Gogos at 11pm only after what had made this night get off to a bang for me.

Last week a friend had mentioned he knew of a Korean party that wanted some foreigners to come and attend. I assumed it would be a milling about mixer type party, but we walked in and it was apparently some sort of English club that meets for a party once a month for the Koreans to practice their English. When we got there we were told to sit at random tables and thats when the oddness started. Some were fluent, some were ok, and others definitely needed their cheat sheets - but you sit down and were immediately bombarded with questions and given beer and they just wanted to hear you talk. And they were so interested in everything that I had to say it felt like I was performing a show that they had paid to see (which they technically did).



In the middle of the evening there's a speed game where the Koreans have to give clues and the foreigners have to guess which word they're talking about. Well, I rigged it that since our group's category was fruit they just had to give me color combinations or specific words like 'Korean' for pear since they have a different kind here.


We tied for first b/c one of my friends also played the same dirty game. Since there was a 4 way tie they turned the tables and the foreigners now had to guess the word that the Koreans were acting out. I came in 2nd after that same friend had beat me to the punch and we received even more food for the table including a gigantic full squid (which was actually very tasty) and a dish of cold spicy noodles that had river snails (?) in them which were also very good. Hey, I'll try anything once.

Overall it was very odd to sit at the head of a table and be treated with such immense respect and adoration just for speaking my native tongue. It was difficult at first because I wasn't sure of what in the world I had just gotten myself into, but it got much easier. They were fascinated by American culture and the work I do and have done and my interest in Korea. This was the first real chance I've had to interact with a group of English speaking Koreans completely on my own that have had nothing to do with my school. I made some friends out of it and had a lot of free beer (which set up the rest of the night very nicely). The newfound friends have been sending me nice text messages all day. One girl was even an NYU grad and going back to NYU next year for grad school so we will have the chance to hang out there.

It just felt good to go out there and do something very different and rewarding even if it started out as being used for a service. In the end, I think that's a pretty common theme in life, but just as long as everyone's happy it all works. I imagine I'll even go back next month too because it was a hell of a lot of fun.
Jenn PeddeCarefree Korea