Tag Archives: live music

May I have this silent dance? *Korea Silent Disco*

Hongdae, one of my favorite neighborhoods in Seoul, Korea, is known for being loud and full of music. Every night you can count on the area’s public spaces to be full of spontaneous and talented performers and one can not ignore the deafening beats blaring from the many clubs that line Hongdae’s narrow streets. But one random night each month is reserved for a different kind of party.

silentdisco1photo credit

My friends grew tired of me trying to coordinate our plans so that we would be in Hongdae for this infamous soiree. After a few missed dates due to conflicting dinner plans and bad weather I thought it just wasn’t meant to be. With just over a month left living and teaching in Korea, I eyed my Korea Bucket List with satisfaction and shrugged off the 2 scribbled words in the bottom right hand corner: Silent Disco. You can’t do it all… Or can you?

wedancewithyou

And then, as life goes, when I wasn’t looking I full on stumbled into a quiet mess of headphones, swaying bodies, balloons, and all sorts of dancing.

silentdisco

The Korea Silent Disco is widely known in the city and has helped to make the Hongdae playground a fantastic meeting place for friends and those looking to enjoy the fresh air, the talented local performers, and of course the cheap convenient store beer and soju.

The Silent Disco is not exclusive to Korea. This type of party is widely known around the world and it is a disco where people dance to music listened to on wireless headphones. The DJ’s music is broadcast via an FM-transmitter and the disco-ers wear headphones that pick up the signal.

We found our way to a small booth where a handful of Korean women, who I swear were K-Pop stars, took our money (about $4.00) and IDs and issued us bulky headphones.

For the next few hours we danced and admired the diverse crowd of dancing Koreans and foreigners. Each disco participant seemed to have a different style of dance, but no one seemed to mind. Between every few songs I managed to let the headphones slip down to my neck and I relished in the peaceful party that surrounded me. It’s a very strange feeling to experience a full-blown dance party with no sound. Although I thoroughly enjoyed the disco, I believe the oblivious people passing by got the real show. They curiously laughed and pointed at us and some dancers kindly allowed the strangers to wear the headphones for a brief few moments.

Toward the end of the night the disco leader led the party out into the streets. We followed him as he dodged inbetween traffic, past packed restaurants, and through the busy shopping alleys of Hongdae for what is called an ‘open air love parade’.

dj

This night was a quiet one, but one I will surely not forget anytime soon. Make sure to check out the Silent Disco Korea Facebook page for their monthly party dates and times. I promise, you have room for this one last thing on your Korea Bucket List.

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rah rah korea – lady gaga does seoul

“I don’t want to sound presumptuous, but I’ve made it my goal to revolutionize pop music.” – Lady Gaga

korean elle

korean elle

One of my first nights in my apartment, before I had dishes, silverware or food in my fridge, I spent the night scouring Korean expat websites in search of live music shows in Seoul and surrounding areas near me – I have priorities. I love live music and can be easily persuaded to attend a show anytime, anywhere. One of the perks of living in Boston for the past 2+ years was the vast collection of shows, big and small, that were available to me. I spent a lot of money on shows – all worth it. While searching the Korean music sites, I stumbled through one calendar and was disappointed to not recognize any of the acts coming to Seoul in March and April. Then I stopped and scrolled back up the page to re-read an entry – LADY GAGA April 27th. I have seen her twice before in Boston, but I was surprised to learn that her April 27th show would be her first stop on her world-wide ‘Born This Way’ tour. So meant to be. The next day I easily convinced 2 of my friends to attend, and I immediately booked the tickets with my credit card. (proper emergency – right?)

The show was amazing – Koreans love Gaga! I was a bit nervous about getting to the show on time, it was this past Friday night in Seoul and I got out of work at 6pm and had to travel 1+ hour into Seoul to meet my friends and collect my tickets at an unfamiliar venue bombarded by thousands of crazy Gaga fans. Gaga was nervous, although for other reasons. She tweeted before her show, “Nervous for tonight. Hope I make little monsters happy and proud.”

I made it just in time and soon realized that our tickets were right in front of the stage – score! We had standing room tickets so we could move up and edge toward the stage as the show progressed. Gaga had no reason to be nervous – the Korean fans adored her, and although some of her words may have been lost in translation, they still seemed to love every minute of her entertainment.

I was unaware at the time, but I learned later that many Korean Christian groups were also present at the Seoul Olympic Stadium on Friday. They were not there to wave glow-sticks, don big blonde wigs and skimpy outfits, they were forcefully  protesting the show and calling it “pornographic” and stating that it promoted homosexuality. Gaga did not acknowledge the protesters during her show, but she did mention her disappointment in the Korean government’s recent decision to make the show an 18+ event.

*****

More about the Christian protesters:

(Reuters) – Christian groups in South Korea called on Friday for pop icon Lady Gaga to cancel her concert here saying it was “pornographic” and promoted homosexuality.

South Korea’s government has already bowed to public pressure and banned under-18s from attending the 26-year old’s concert, but protesters gathered outside the venue said that was not enough.

“Some people can accept this as another culture but its impact is huge beyond art and debases religions. Even adults can’t see her performance which is too homosexual and pornographic,” said Yoon Jung-hoon, a reverend who organized the “Civilians Network against the Lady Gaga Concert”. (http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/04/27/entertainment-us-ladygaga-korea-idUSBRE83Q0DC20120427)

pray away gaga

*****

I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Gaga is one extreme entertainer and she knows how to put on a show. For 2+ hours the entire stadium was dancing, singing and wondering what she would do next. She rode a horse around the stage in her opening scene, re-introduced the meat dress and was dunked into a meat grinder during a song, and a mechanical replica of her face flew around the stage and at one point had it out with Gaga herself. Only at a Gaga show.

The real fun came at the end of the show when herds of Koreans rushed to exit the stadium in attempts to make it to the subway before it closed for the night. I squeezed onto one of the last trains and made my way back to Uijeongbu to get a few hours of  sleep before departing for a Buddhist Temple-Stay the next morning…but that is for another post. At 9pm on Friday night I was belting out the words to ‘Born This Way’ as a sea of Koreans waved their disco sticks in the Olympic Stadium, and at 9pm on Saturday night I was tucking myself into bed on the floor of a Buddhist Temple in preparation for a 3am wake-up in the peaceful mountainside hours away from Seoul. Only in Korea.

Enjoy a few pictures from the show and also a video of her opening comments to the Korean fans. Thanks for a great show Gaga!

seoul stadium pre show

seoul stadium pre show

“I’m obsessively opposed to the typical.” – Lady Gaga

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