Nightclub in Ulsan

by sebastien on March 21, 2009

Remember how I said that before this trip you probably would never have caught me in karaoke bar? I would have said the same thing about a dance club too, haha. But when in Rome...

A bunch of us from work wanted to go check out the local dance clubs here because we've heard that they can be pretty crazy, fun, and different from what we'd expect back home, so we made some plans to check it out with Mr. Lee, Sang Won, a smiley fun loving KPS worker who we invited to have come out with us. With the help from 2 younger KPS techs from work we decided to go to the Holiday dance club in downtown Ulsan. So Saturday night at around 11pm, after hanging out at Kevin's place for a few hours, we head downtown. One group with a taxi, and one group with Sang Won. I was kind of on the fence about going since I was pretty tired, but I'm damn glad I went, what an experience!

Click the link to see some pictures and videos.

The night life in Korea is vibrant, there is always something going on, and always lots of people on the streets. And drinking is a big part of their culture so without fail you'll see a few sloshed people stumbling around the streets trying desperately to stay upright, haha.

As you might know, I'm not much of a drinker myself, but I do want to experience this culture as much as I can. I decided I would drink a bit that night.

We get to the club and it's a giant hall with a big stage at the opposite end, a smaller dance floor, and a huge area with lots of booths with comfy benches like you would find in a restaurant. The dance floor was probably only 1/6th of the space in the hall, with the rest of the space taken up by these tables. There was an actual performance on the stage with a pretty girl singing and dancing with the dance floor pretty well filled up. The stage has more lights and effects than I've ever heard of in a dance club back home, (realizing that I've been to very few dance clubs) and the sound was great. This was a pretty big shock to me already, and I was smillin' from ear to ear at just the sights and sound. Just moments after we get there and we are seated in a corner booth, the girl up on stage does more than just sing.. she starts to rip off some clothes.. haha. Not really what I was expecting. Don't worry though, she just shows her bare bum then the curtain drops. And that was the last time we saw any bare body parts that night. Interesting way to start the night ;)

(A crappy picture of the entire club from our corner booth)

It was neat to see that when she was just singing, everyone was dancing, not very energetically, but dancing none the less, but once she started removing articles of clothing, girls and guys alike all stopped dancing and was fixated on the performer. Once the curtain dropped everyone went back to their tables.

So we're sittin' down, all of us Canadians with Sang Won and one of his KPS co-workers and we find out that to sit down, we're going to have to pay 220,000KRW since we're foreigners.. haha. Oh well. With that comes a fruit dish and a bottle of scotch, so we didn't complain much.

The way this night club worked, as did most night clubs in this country, the dancing isn't continuous.. it happens in acts, with breaks in between for people to go back to their tables and talk. So there would be a dance act with singing, or a DJ, or whatever, and about 20 minutes into it at most, the act would end and everyone would go back to their seats for about 15 or 20 minutes.. then it would start over with the curtain going up and a pile of people rushing to the dance floor again.

While all that is going on, there's something happening behind the scene called booking, where the waiters would pair two people up by bringing a girl (or a guy i think) to someone else's table and sit them down next to a match.. I'm not really sure how it all works, and how you sign up for that, but it's a way for them to get past the initial awkward meeting, as this culture can be very timid between the sexes. I find that fascinating. The girls here are very very timid, and most of them can barely look into your eyes and they often giggle and run away, worse when you're a North American.. haha.

Because of the barrier between the sexes, you'll often see guys and girls dancing separately on the dance floor.. the guys dancing with other guys, and the girls dancing with other girls. I think it's kinda cool that way, people tend to be more at ease in groups.

Anyway, the next time an act comes on Sang Won grabs my hand and drags me onto the dance floor.. I'm pretty giddy at this point at the whole experience so I'm just going with the flow. Guys here hold hands all the time, and they don't shy away from contact. North Americans would deem that uncool, but I kinda like it. It's not sexual between guys, it's just friendship, affection. I've always been a tactile person so it suits me better than the way things are back home. Mr. Heo at work always takes my hand when he needs to show me something, or pats the small of my back when talking about the weekend or whatever, it's pretty common here.

(Cat and Dennis dancing)

On the dance floor there were lots of people, pretty equal spread of guys and girls, all in little groups. I start dancing in my normal awkward manner, but I'm having a good time, all the Canadians are up there and you can tell that the Koreans are fascinated with us.. haha. Girls want to dance with us but are too shy, and the guys want to dance with us but that seemed a little awkward. Every once in a while girls will glance at us and giggle, sometimes pulling at our arms and running away back to their groups.. You can never tell what they are doing or what their intent is because you would either need to know their language so you could talk with them, or their gestures and practices so you would know what they are trying to do. Oh well, it's a fun game regardless :)

(Se Hyun, Sang Won, Cat and Kevin at our table)

(Kevin and Cat on the dance floor)

(Se Hyun and Kevin enjoying some dried fish thing)

(JR Also enjoying some dried fish thing)

Everytime the dancing stops we head back to the table and drink and talk. As the night went on, and I kept drinking (moderately, I swear) I wanted more and more to just go up and dance with these people... Often times the dancing would start and I just left the table by myself and headed for the dance floor. It was so fun! I can totally see what the fascination is with dancing. The little back and forth with the girls giggling, the dances and songs they all known and do the motions for, girls and guys alike, and the good music being performed right there, not just some CD pumping, all in all it was awesome.

A short video just to give you an idea of what it was like:

At about 2am I needed to go to the washroom, so I got up and started walking to the back to go down the stairs to the guys room. I'm feeling pretty buzzed at this point but I think I'm ok. I get to the bottom of the stairs where you turn the corner into the washroom but my body's momentum carries me into the wall ahead of me and I shoulder check it. Ok so maybe I'm a little drunk at this point. This is a rare occurrence for me, so please understand :)

Anyway, this goes on for a few hours, go up and dance for a bit, go back and talk for a bit.. The club apparently stays open until 6am, which we thought was pretty crazy, eventually we left at about 3:30. I could have probably gone until they closed the place, unreal!

It was such a fun time and I'm so glad I went.. When we left we grabbed a pair of cabs and went back to the apartment complex.. even though it was about 25 minutes away, it only cost 15 bucks split between the three of us. Sweet!

Some more pictures here.

Well, that's all I really feel like writing right now, my fingers are tired! I'm gonna go take a shower, and maybe take my new bike down the the gas station to fill it up :) Oh yeah, I bought a motorbike.. haha. Sorry mom. :o

More about that in my next post :)

Take care for now!

(Note: This blog post was imported from my old blogger site to this new WordPress blog.)