Sunday, September 12, 2010

Hongdae (Hongdaze?) Part II

Okay, where was I? Friday night downpour in Hongdae...
(Oh, and I'm safely back in Icheon now, for all of you keeping score at home.)



For all of you Madison folk, it's sort of like a gigantic, multi-street State Street. But with much more bars and cars, bright lights, beautiful young club kids, and monsoon weather.

Okay, it's not really like Madison at all. But it is interesting. And loud. And it's a good thing I bought an umbrella on a whim at the bus terminal, because it is POURING. But there are still thousands of intrepid partiers in the streets, determined to have their good time. Through wind or rain or dark of night. (And actually, in this case, all three.)

The first stop was food. (Waiting for lost Jennys for over two hours makes for hungry Rachels.) So we ended up at a "Mr. Kebab's" of all places. As I'm sure most of you know, I was in Israel just a few months ago, so having some shwerma in the middle of Seoul was kind of surreal. And tasty.

After dinner (and drying out some) the bar search commenced. Honestly, the whole thing is a little daunting. How do you choose where you want to go when there are literally hundreds of bars of every style and persuasion in your immediate vicinity? Do you want to dance? Do you want to quietly sip soju? Do you want to meet foreigners? Or Koreans? Or just drink anonymously? So many options.

Luckily, this choice was quickly taken care of, as Rachel's buddies were already staked out at a table in an underground club- 'Papa Gorilla'. (Throughout the night, as things got much blurrier, this was also referred to as "Mama Monkey" and sometimes just "that primate bar...?") We were downstairs just long enough to stash our bags in (very convenient) lockers before heading off to another venue- 'Gold Bar'. Gold Bar was pretty standard in terms of the Korean nightlife I've witnessed so far. Reallly dark bar, with roving, flashing brightly colored strobe lights. Loud music. Model-beatiful bartenders. And shot glasses.

Our particular band of merry travelers that night happened to include a birthday boy. (Names have been ommitted to protect the drunk, although I'm sure they'd all admit it to you.) And birthdays mean Jose Cuervo. Served with nacos, chicken, bowls of peaches, and other semi-identifiable snacks. The other semi-identifiable element of the night was definitely nationalities. If I had to hazard a guess, I'd say that there were about six or seven countries represented in our group alone. (For those interested: American, Canadian, Welsh, British, South African, Korean, Saudi and a few others I couldn't really confirm.) Everyone is eating and drinking and having a fine time, but nobody seems to be getting particularly drunk. Because that's the thing about partying in Hongdae... it sneaks up on you, and then hits like a ton of bricks. And that ton of bricks hit right as we left Gold Bar to go back to Papa Gorilla.

The first stop at Papa Gorilla had been pretty tame. There were maybe twenty people in the whole bar. Now, it was PACKED. Remember, this place is underground, so all of the heat and sweat and music don't really have anyplace to go. It has this heavy, hot atmosphere, pretty sparse except for long, thin tables that people are now dancing on top of. Okay.

So, drinks at Papa Gorilla are really cheap, and a fair amount of them come in buckets. Not dissimilar to the popular fishbowl, but a lot less sophisticated. (As though fishbowls were sophisticated.) No, these- these are just plastic buckets. Like ice cream pails. And they are fantastic.

Buckets at Papa Gorilla make you do crazy things. Like dance on tables, or with people you just met (whose names you may or may not have known at the time, and that are definitely erased from your memory now), or singing along to Ke$ha in public. I fell asleep in the cab on the ride home, but then again it was 4 AM.

But's that's Papa Gorilla.
And that's Hongdae.

And it's awesome.

<3 from Korea. Jenny

[Author's Note: To any and all concerned parties (especially grandmothers) that may be reading this- I was very safe and with friends the entire time. I promise.) :)

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