12 Days… Errrr, let’s make that 5 Days of Dancing

I’ve mentioned a few times before that swing dancing in Seoul is pretty amazing. Nearly every time I go out dancing, I can feel such an increase in general ability compared to what I’m used to. This becomes even more amazing when I think that there are a dozen venues, many with dancing up to four nights a week. Coming off a bit of a dance high from Camp Swing It, and realizing I’ve been to about half of the venues, I decided to do a tour of the all the venues, one night after another.

This led to a bit of an organizational project, as the websites that showed the days for dancing at different venues were a bit outdated. After asking around, I had what I thought was a pretty reliable schedule, and set out. Here’s my schedule:

Wednesday – Ringopop
Thursday – The Swing
Friday – Swing Zoo
Saturday – The Savoy
Sunday – Bounce Blue
Monday – Big Apple
Tuesday – Swing Time
Wednesday – Boogie Woogie
Thursday – Acuavit
Friday – Happy Bar
Saturday – Sky Ballroom
Sunday – Fiesta II

I started Wednesday, with plans to finish Sunday night, a week and a half later. This means leaving work at 9pm, to get to venues at 10pm and dance for an hour and a half before leaving on the last subways. Unfortunately, as you’ll see below, an IT band that’s been plaguing me for a couple months or so came back with a vengeance. I am resting tonight so I can live to dance another day, but you’re welcome to see how far I got!

Day 1 – Ringopop
I go to Ringo Pop fairly often, but it’s always been for blues events. This was my first time swing dancing there. I timed my visit poorly. The semester of lessons for the community was wrapping up, and according to the owner/instructor, many of the people in that community were out at different venues practicing for the upcoming graduation performances. That meant that in an already fairly small club, we were down to 8-10 couples max. This was the sparsest social dance I’ve ever been to in Korea. Fortunately, another foreigner joined me, so I had someone to talk to when I wasn’t dancing. I also got to know the owner a little better, and he even taught me the Camel Walk and led me for a couple dances! I never get to follow here! It’s a big deal!

Ringo Pop. A slow night here.

Ringo Pop. A slow night here.

Day 2 – The Swing
The Swing is my go-to place on Thursdays. The price is cheap, the owners are inviting, the dancers are friendly, and more importantly, it’s somewhat close to my job, so I can go during the week. I only recognized one person this week, and didn’t dance as much (would you believe me if I said I’m pacing myself?), but it’s still a great time. To my knowledge, it’s also the only place in Korea that sells Aris Allens, so take care of all of your wingtip needs there.

The Swing. It wasn't actually this slow here, I just took it late when most of the people left.

The Swing. It wasn’t actually this slow here, I just took it late when most of the people left.

Day 3 – Swing Zoo
This is my first time at Swing Zoo. Apparently my timing hasn’t gotten any better. Instead of walking into a Friday-night group of swing dancers, I stumbled into their monthly blues dances. I’ve talked a bit about the blues scene before. I really love blues dancing, but the scene here is a lot different than what I preferred at home: the music is often not blues, but jazz ballades; a combination of the language barrier and me being new make it much less social; it’s a developing scene, as is the dance ability; and there are much less people. They also cost a bit more than lindy nights. I got a little suspicious this night was different when I heard “The Christmas Song” wafting through the doorway (remember what I said about the DJs spinning ballades?), but I had traveled too far to back out. I didn’t have a bad night, but next time I come back will be on a Tuesday.

Swing Zoo. I really don't have the camera (or skills) for low-light dance photography.

Swing Zoo. I really don’t have the camera (or skills) for low-light dance photography.

Day 4 – The Savoy
Feeling like I have a hold on my knee issue, I joined my friends on a hike up Dobongsan that afternoon. That was a bad idea. The Savoy itself was a great time. It has great DJs, friendly dancers, and a decent floor. It had a pretty festive atmosphere, since they were celebrating the graduation of the swing classes. However, my knee was killing me, and I sat out much more than I would have liked. In spite of that, I had a great experience, and would go back often if it weren’t one of the furthest swing bars from me.

The Savoy, during one of Korea's many "K-Pop Strolls"

The Savoy, during one of Korea’s many “K-Pop Strolls”

Day 5 – Bounce Blue… Nope. Swing Time.
Never being to Bounce Blue before, it took some friends and I bit of time to before we found it, and also found out it was closed that night. Thankfully Swing Time is a very reliable Sunday night activity. This place has a very new floor, lots of space (which gets filled up quickly), and good music. It’s typically a lot more up-tempo than any of the other venues I’ve been to, and some fantastic dancers frequent the place. I took a 6-week class shortly after I got here, and am definitely considering it again. Like last night, my knee definitely put me on the sidelines quite a bit. After resting for a few songs I’d feel left out, get on the dance floor, and regret it within half a song. At least the dancing is fun enough to watch from the seats on the side!

Day 6 – Yeah right…
I would love to be at Big Apple tonight, but it’s a bit more pain than it’s worth. I’ll have to try this again when my knee can last a bit longer. I’ll certainly be avoiding hiking for those 12 days!