If you are resisting addressing sexual assault at your event, you are actively enabling it.

The thing is, the only possible reason for aggressively resisting addressing sexual assault at your event is that you’re an offender. I’d add ‘or you’re actively concealing offenders’, but that’s pretty much par for the course. Aggressively resisting addressing sexual assault prevention and response processes conceals and enables offenders.

If you don’t develop policies for prevention and response, you leave the actual work up to your people on the ground – your volunteers, your door staff, your ‘middle managers’. And because they don’t have a clear policy guiding their decisions, they’ll be forced to either develop their own policy, or respond in an ad hoc way. You’ll also be making _them_ entirely responsible for OH&S at your event. Which is fine if that’s their job – OH&S officer. But if they’re the Registration coordinator or the head chef in the kitchen, then that’s not appropriate.

None of us are just naturally born knowing how to prevent and respond to sexual assault and harassment. In fact, many of us are trained by our families and home cultures to _avoid_ addressing these issues. And women are even further trained to be _afraid_ of addressing these issues, trained to perceive themselves as the ‘natural’ victims of assault and harassment. But despite this training – this socialisation – women in the lindy hop world have started figuring out how to respond to and prevent assault and harassment. And done a pretty darn good job. Our time line has been relatively short, from the public reports about Steven Mitchell to this moment. It’s been less than ten years. We’re pretty bloody good at this.

So if you want to run an event well, just as with decisions about what food to serve, and what to charge for tickets, you train your staff, or hire staff trained in these particular areas.

In the lindy hop world, we now have a fairly large body of first hand experience with dealing with s.a/h specifically in dance communities, _as well as_ a whole range of literature and training from other social spaces and bodies. And we are very, very good at learning and working in collaboration. It’s the one defining feature of the modern lindy hop world: we specialise in learning how to touch each other.

So why not offer your staff support and direction with a clear policy? If you’ve hired the right people, they can then go on and develop specific processes, training, and support for your event and your staff.

As I said above, the only reason to _not_ actively address these issues is that you are an offender attempting to conceal and enable your offences. The other implicit or explicit consequence of your inaction or resistance is to conceal and enable _other_ offenders.

But as a final point, I’ll also add:
Even if _you_ discourage work on these topics, your staff will be working on preventing and responding to sexual assault and harassment. Because dancers are reporting offences and expecting your event to be safe. And that is a reasonable expectation: that we will be safe at your events. So your staff are already acting on these issues.
The key issue then becomes: will you support their work, and provide them with the resources to do this well, or will you get in their way and fuck shit up?

DJing band breaks: my rules

So far as skills for playing band break sets go, I usually have a few rules:

  • Don’t go into the hardcore high-energy territory. Keep the vibe bubbling along, but never quite climaxing. The band should be the peak;
  • Don’t get too low energy – keep the room bubbling along;
  • li> Play something with a ‘building’ energy just before the band goes on (like that brilliant version of One o’clock Jump), so that the band go on stage to an amped up, excited crowd;

  • Don’t play songs the band will play. So this means introducing yourself to the band, getting a set list, and getting an idea of the type of music they’ll play;
  • You’re not the star here, your job is to be the support act for the band, warming the room for them, keeping the dancers interested, and generally helping the band have a good gig. So don’t show off, don’t do any stunt DJing, don’t be a jerk, be on time, be easy to work with, MC if you have to, keep you eyes on the band and be ready to play with zero notice;
  • Introduce yourself to the sound engineer, the MC, the band leader, and the stage manager. Be helpful and useful, and do a soundcheck if you can;
  • Don’t play hi-fi stuff, especially not hi-fi 50s bands like Basie’s, because no modern band will sound as good;
  • Complement the band’s style, but don’t echo it too perfectly. eg SSAS often play a lot of Ellington, so I try to stay away from the Ellington favourites;
  • Don’t go nuts on tempos; keep the music accessible and don’t tire out the crowd before the band comes back;
  • Don’t play anything too crude or too memorable. A band break DJ is just filling in music, keeping the vibe going while the band literally take a break. So don’t outshine the band.

And finally, all this holds true if the band is good. If the band really sucks, then you follow all these rules, except you play really good songs that give everyone a chance to dance.

Herrang DJing 2018

I think my favourite set was the last one, where I did band breaks for the Stockholm All Stars. I was feeling very tired, but also very relaxed and willing to try songs and combinations I never use. The room was super crowded and hot during band sets, but it emptied out during the breaks, except for a few hardcore dancers. I was trying to keep the music low-key, and not compete with the fun vibe of the band. Nothing hi-fi.
I was quite proud of the June Christy/Mildred Bailey transition. Both are really great bands, and the vocalists have brilliant timing.

I played quite a bit of Chick Webb this Herrang, and really leant on the big bands generally. I especially like that version of Tain’t What You Do because it’s so _good_ (Webb’s band is just GREAT), you see dancers consider shim shamming, then just give in and swing out. Because it’s the best. It was also fun to see dancers get into that Big Apple song (my current fave), and to try out ‘big apple’ steps and claps and things to it. You can see that I was working with a few female vocalists, which I don’t often do.

There was a lot of Basie played in camp this year, which I got a bit tired of, tbh, but I also started to really enjoy Lester Young’s weirdness, especially in the later years. I enjoyed adding in the ‘odder’ later stuff of artists like Slam Stewart, JC Heard, Buck Clayton, etc. You can see bop on the horizon, but it’s not here yet. My general rule with this sort of more ‘interesting’ swinging jazz is to not play it during the high energy/crazy parts of the party, and to not play it in beginner hour. Instead I play it in more contemplative parts of the night, when peeps are more relaxed, and there are more experienced or experimental dancers around. ie band breaks, late shifts, etc.

Look, the bottom line is that 30s and 40s classic swinging big and small bands doing proper swinging jazz (not jump blues or early rnb, not nola, not hifi, not 50s stuff) makes for brilliant lindy hop, balboa, and jazz dancing. It swings like a gate, it’s structurally predictable enough to improvise over, and it’s technically bloody sophisticated. When you add in the talents of people like Teddy Wilson, Billy Holiday, and Benny Goodman, you just can’t go wrong.

I’m also enjoying working with a range of tempos. Not just super fast, not just ‘medium tempo’. All the tempos. One of my goals this Herrang was to get West End Blues into a set at some point. It’s the best jazz recording ever. I did get it in there (in a slow drag set), but to me it felt like a continuation of the DJing I was doing in other sets. In part because I had a strong feel for Louis Armstrong this July. I played a stack of him in Vienna, and then in Herrang. I noticed that when he was with a good, solidly swinging band his playing just sparked light into the dancers. He was a true gift to the world.

Anyway, this is what I played.

Baby, Won’t You Please Come Home 137 1938 Pee Wee Russell’s Rhythm Makers (Max Kaminsky, Dicky Wells, Al Gold, James P. Johnson, Freddie Green, Wellman Braud, Zutty Singleton)

The Jumpin’ Jive 145 1939 Lionel Hampton and his Orchestra (Rex Stewart, Lawrence Brown, Harry Carney, Clyde Hart, Billy Taylor, Sonny Greer, Fred Norman)

The One I Love (Belongs To Someone Else) 150 1945 June Christy and The Kentones

Lover Come Back To Me 154 1941 Mildred Bailey acc. by Herman Chittison, Dave Barbour, Frenchy Covetti, Jimmy Hoskins, Delta Rhythm Boys)

Wacky Dust 150 1938 Chick Webb Orchestra (Ella Fitzgerald, Mario Bauza, Bobby Stark, Taft Jordan (v), George Matthews, Nat Story, Sandy Williams, Garvin Bushell, Hilton Jefferson, Teddy McRae, Wayman Carver, Tommy Fulford, Bobby Johnson, Beverly Peer)

D.B. Blues 155 1945 Lester Young and his Band (Vic Dickenson, Dodo Marmorosa, Red Callender, Henry Tucker Green)

‘Tain’t What You Do (It’s The Way That Cha Do It) 160 1939 Chick Webb and his Orchestra (Ella Fitzgerald, Dick Vance, Bobby Stark, Taft Jordan, George Matthews, Nat Story, Sandy Williams, Garvin Bushell, Hilton Jefferson, Teddy McRae, Wayman Carver, Tommy Fulford, Bobby Johnson, Beverly Peer)

Don’t Be That Way 147 1938 Teddy Wilson and his Orchestra (Bobby Hackett, Pee Wee Russel, Johnny Hodges, Allan Reuss, Al Hall, Johnny Blowers, Nan Wynn)

One O’Clock Jump 175 1941 Metronome All Star Band (Cootie Williams, Harry James, Ziggy Elman, Tommy Dorsey, J.C. Higginbotham, Benny Goodman, Benny Carter, Toots Mondello, Coleman Hawkins, Tex Beneke, Count Basie, Charlie Christian, Artie Bernstein, Buddy Rich)

[band set]

Strictly Instrumental 132 1941 Harry James and his Orchestra

Big Apple 166 1937 Teddy Wilson and his orchestra (Harry James, Archie Rosati, Vido Musso, Allan Reuss, John Simmons, Cozy Cole, Frances Hunt)

I Want The Waiter (with the water) 151 1939 Jimmie Lunceford and his Orchestra

Get Up 144 1939 Skeets Tolbert and his Gentlemen of Swing (Carl Smith, Otis Hicks, Clarence Easter Harry Prather, Hubert Pettaway)

Trav’lin’ All Alone 170 1937 Billie Holiday Orchestra (Buck Clayton, Buster Bailey, Lester Young, Freddie Green, Walter Page, Jo Jones)

Savoy Strut (WM 1001-1) 158 1939 Johnny Hodges and his Orchestra (Cootie Williams, Harry Carney, Duke Ellington, Billy Taylor, Sonny Greer, Buddy Clark)

Free Eats 163 1947 Count Basie and his Orchestra (Ed Lewis, Emmett Berry, Snooky Young, Harry Edison, Ted Donnelly, George Matthews, Eli Robinson, Bill Johnson, Preston Love, Rudy Rutherford, Buddy Tate, Paul Gonsalves, Jack Washington, Freddie Green, Walter Page, Jo Jones)

[band set]

Love Me Or Leave Me 162 1947 Pat Flowers and his Rhythm (Dan Perri, Charles Green, Arthur Trappier)

Don’t Be That Way 136 1938 Lionel Hampton and his Orchestra (Cootie Williams, Johnny Hodges, Edgar Sampson, Jess Stacy, Allen Reuss, Billy Taylor, Sonny Greer) 2:36

Leap Frog 159 1941 Louis Armstrong and his Orchestra (Frank Galbreath, Shelton Hemphill, Gene Prince, George Washington, Norman Greene, Henderson Chambers, Rupert Cole, Carl Frye, Prince Robinson, Joe Garland, Luis Russell, Lawrence Lucie, Hayes Alvis, Sid Catlett)

September Song 160 1948 Harry James Band Live

I’ll Build A Stairway To Paradise 163 1945 Eddie Condon and His Orchestra (Yank Lawson, Lou McGarity, Edmond Hall, Joe Dixon, Joe Bushkin, Sid Weiss, George Wettling)

Baby, Won’t You Please Come Home 137 1938 Pee Wee Russell’s Rhythm Makers (Max Kaminsky, Dicky Wells, Al Gold, James P. Johnson, Freddie Green, Wellman Braud, Zutty Singleton)

Frenesi 147 1940 Benny Goodman and his Orchestra (Jimmy Maxwell, Irving Goodman, Alec Fila, Cootie Williams, Lou McGarity, Cutty Cutshal, Gus Bivona, Skip Martin, B Snyder, Georgie Auld, Jack Henderson, Fletcher Henderson, Bernie Leighton, Mike Bryan, A Bernstein, Jaeger)

The Goon Came On (GG) 144 1944 Jimmie Lunceford and His Orchestra (Joe Thomas)

[band set]

Food and Dance; as ordinary as oxygen

Soul Food Junkies (broadcast version) from Sonia Gonzalez-Martinez on Vimeo.

This is a really great little docco. As you’ve probably figured out, one of my favourite ways of experiencing the places I visit is to see what people eat, how they eat it, and where they get it. I especially like ‘ordinary’ or ‘everyday’ food – supermarkets, greengrocers, delis, markets. The places where people buy their everyday food.

Sitting here in Herrang, at a dance camp devoted to black dance history, I’m struck (once again – for the millionth time) by just how selective this ‘history’ is. It’s heavily vetted by middle class white people, and barely touches on the everyday lives of black people in the 20s/30s/40s, let alone today. One of the very real consequences of this, is that lindy hop and tap and all those other black dances are even more clearly separated from the black vernacular.

The other night there was a library talk about lindy hop, with the provocation: “lindy hop: a dance to preserve or develop?” All three of the people on the panel were white, middle class Swedes. I find this thought more than a little troubling. This was clearly a statement of ownership of black dance. By white business owners. I couldn’t attend, and frankly, I couldn’t quite bear the thought of another belaboured discussion where white people give endless excuses and reasons for why what they are doing is ok, because this one time a black guy told them so. To paraphrase an important movement in lindy hop today: the voices of black lindy hoppers matter. Time to stop talking and listen, white lindy hoppers.

Anyways, this documentary is about the way black families can both preserve and innovate, by focussing on community development (specifically in terms of addressing food deserts and access to ingredients in black communities, as well as cooking). Here, the cultural practices and products – cooking, eating and food – are clearly marked as central to black family life, and therefore of vital importance to black cultural life. This filmmaker makes it clear that stepping aside from the commodification of processed food and black eaters’ engagement with food only as consumers is a serious issue. Growing your own greens is as important as dancing your own dances and making your own music; it is soul food.

How I describe connection in lindy hop

Someone on the facey asked ‘how do you describe/explain connection?’ and this is what I said.

I don’t often talk about connection in class. I usually use the word to include a whole bunch of stuff:

  • the human/social connection between partners (mutual respect and collaboration).
  • the physical contact (ie where we are actually touching each other)
  • the rhythmic connection (ie our shared relationship to the music, our shared sense of groove v two people just randomly grooving independently).

ie my three ‘rules’: take care of your partner, take care of the music, take care of yourself.

But my favourite description is: We are a team, and if partner X does something cool, it’s a win for both of us in the team. I also like the Jenny/Rikard description of lindy hop as a rally car: the lead is reading the map, and pointing out that there is a turn up ahead, but the follow decides whether to take the turn, how fast to turn, whether to stop and reverse, etc etc etc.

I don’t talk about all the technical body stuff in class if I can help it, as a one hour dance class is not the place to learn about turning on your pelvic floor – we go to pilates for that.

But if I want to improve the way two dancers are ‘connecting’, I will ask them to do a few things that have effects on their biomechanics:

– Look at each other (because the gaze actually affects the way we hold our heads on our necks, how we orient our torsos, and all the way to our feet. eg when the lead bows to the follow on the beginning of a swing out, if the lead looks at the follow, they won’t collapse their head and shoulders by looking at the ground, and they won’t create a strange off-set connection by looking to their right shoulder).

– Ask them to observe how they are touching their partner, and what messages this contact sends their partner (eg I ask the follows to observe their left hand on the lead’s shoulder – are the fingers making a claw? what message does that send their partner?) I don’t ask them to change what they’re doing, but to observe their own bodies. There’s nothing at all wrong with telling your partner you are freaking out by having your fingers clench into a claw on their shoulder; it’s important to communicate like this.* I also ask them to observe _themselves_ rather than their partner at first, because follows are often pressed to think of their bodies as a conduit for the lead’s ‘vision’ of a move, erasing their own sense of self and volition.

– Find a shared sense of groove with the music. So first we may do some grooving alone (usually with purpose in a game where groove is a side effect, not the stated goal), then we work on dancing _together_ and finding a shared sense of groove, where we don’t sacrifice our own sense of timing or rhythm, but we don’t ignore our partner’s. One of the consequences of this approach is that they really ‘listen’ to each other, using their sense of touch, and also their visual sense.

– Looking at each other, and doing lots of call and response work. I think that a lot of hardcore technical classes neglect the sense of sight. But we use our eyes for so much communication, it’s ridiculous to abandon it. And also we are social humans use rely on body cues and nonverbal visual communication all the time. Lindy hop is about visual communication with a partner too.
So I am quite against exercises where you close your eyes.

*This is why I am impatient with technical discussions of ‘connection’ that encourage us to adopt a ‘perfect’ physical connection via biomechanics. A ‘perfect’ connection prioritises ‘perfect’ leading and following, and suggests that a perfectly executed move is the end goal. I would much rather people reminded themselves that they know how to communicate with their bodies, and to trust their own physical reactions and accept them. So I want to see dancers smiling or laughing or frowning or jiggling with excitement or stopping dead or whatevs, _not_ maintaining a ‘perfect’ connection at all costs.

Going to Seoul to lindy hop

Hello! Do you love travelling and lindy hopping? Seoul is the city for you.

Here’s a note: I don’t know everything about Seoul or lindy hopping in Seoul; you should double check my observations with a local.
I’m also assuming that because you’re reading this post, you can read and speak english. That’s my only language.

First things first.

Where will you go?
South Korea.
South Korea has some pretty good cities, and you can lindy hop or attend lindy hop, blues, balboa, solo jazz events in most of them. But I like Seoul because it’s a fantastic city visit for other things besides dancing. I fly in to Incheon airport, the best airport in the world. It has on-site hotels, rest zones, showers, massage, endless restaurants and bars and shops, a roller skating rink, cinemas… it’s HUGE. And the train will take you directly to Seoul (it takes about 50-60 minutes, and you can buy a ticket at the airport).

Where should you stay in Seoul?
That depends on what you’re doing while you’re in the city. If you’re attending a particular event to take classes as well as party, then you’ll probably want to stay near the event venues. But if you’re planning to spend a week in the city (I recommend!), then you needn’t be tied to just one place. There are dance ‘bars’ all over the city, so it doesn’t really matter where you stay, though most visitors like to stay near a green line train station. This line of the excellent subway captures a few loops of the river and the CBD within it. You can catch it from Hongik University down to Bangbae (home to swing bars like Big Apple).

I like Hongdae. Hongdae isn’t technically a suburb or district; it’s the abbreviation of two words – Hongik Daehakgyo (Hongik University). Ask google translate for pronounciation tips. It’s an artsy/indy/studenty sort of area – lots of shops and arts centres and teeny little places to explore. And it’s well serviced by trains and buses, and it’s easy to find something to eat at any time of day.


link

If you look at that map above, you can see there’s a yellow squigly circle on the Hongik University train station. This is an epic big station, and you should always double check the station entrance you need before you try to exit :D I like to use this station as my base for accommodation when I’m staying in this area.
There’s also a red pointer, which is centred on an address: 29 Donggyo-ro 46-gil, Yeonnam-dong, Mapo-gu. Mapo-gu is the district (which is a loose part of ‘hongdae’). Yeonnam-dong is a ‘dong’ – a neighbourhood inside the Mapo-gu district. Donggyo-ro is Donggyo Road.

If you zoom in as close as you can, you’ll see this:

Note the scale: you’re at about 20m:1cm. This should give you an idea of the density of this part of Seoul. You can’t get to it with google maps, because the road barely fits a car. But the shop looks like this:

As you can see, this makes areas like Mapo-gu very walkable, and wonderful for exploring. A tiny little shop like this will often be in a three of four story building with lots of things to explore on each level.

This is how I like to spend my days.

General Seoul tips

Internet and your phone.
The internet is huge in Korea. Like, so big you will not be able to fit their kittens into your little phone. And everyone uses a big phone to talk to their friends and family, watch tv on the train, get around the city. Public use of phones is a way to politely ‘make space’ and not crowd other people, but it’s also important for finding out what’s cool in this huge, cosmopolitan city.
You can hire a wifi ‘egg’ at the airport, or most airbnb hosts provide them free of charge (check when you register).

Buy a selfie-stick and use it with abandon. It’s cool.
Take photos of everything – your meal, your drink, your friends. That’s also cool, and it’s a way to show your host that you appreciate what they’ve done. And go nuts with tags. BUT don’t take photos inside boutique shops, or in designer outlets or places where artists work and display. Especially when it comes to handmade or indy clothes. That’s not cool – that’s a bit like stealing ideas.

Use google maps and google translate.
Everyone in Seoul, even locals, use maps to find new things in tiny little dense areas. It’s totally ok to use your phone to navigate, especially if you are looking for that super chic bar/restaurant that’s just opened.

Learn some basic Korean.
Hello, goodbye, yes, no, thank you, I’m sorry, cool, delicious. A lot of people don’t speak english, so you should get some basic words. And use them! Trains, stations, and most signage use english (and chinese, japanese, and korean), and people are helpful, but you will need to use your words.

Use the underground and buses.
Cheap, clean, easy. Charge up your reuseable metcard and enjoy! BUT stay out of the train at peakhour, noob!
Note for westerners: you are bigger than most Koreans, so you will take up too much space. Make yourself small. Take off your backpack, hunch your shoulders, and keep your feet and arms close to your body. Lower your voice, and don’t make eye contact with strangers!

Eat everything.

Seoul is a city of foodies, and there are endless places to eat and drink, from traditional Korean food to the latest in gastro-porn. Learn a little bit about Korean food before you go, so you know what to expect.
Vegetarians and vegans: learn to eat some meat :D Soz, but while there are vegetarian and vegan restaurants (esp in Buddhist families or areas), they are few and far between.
Chilli eaters, get ready for FUN. Koreans like things spicy and delicious. If something looks red, it’s spicy. And there are lots of ways to add more chilli to your food! kimchee, chilli paste, etc etc.

Easy things to eat that don’t have too much chilli: kimbap (a korean version of sushi), bibimbap (a hot stone bowl with rice, some veggies, meat, and an egg sizzling inside, accompanied by kimchee and sides), bulgogi with rice (just beef with rice). I also like BBQ, but it’s not really a meal for one person :( :(

There are also a lot of places in Seoul that specialise in western foods. As in, the best croissants you will ever eat. The best bagels.

Take Out Food
You know uber eats and deliveroo? Those things will never take off in Seoul, because Seoulites have been delivering food locally forever. Motorbikes zip around the streets, weaving in and out of crowds, and doods in helmets crowd into apartment building lifts with bags full of delicious smelling food.

Coffee.
It is the best. Iced in summer, hot in winter. Pour over, cold drip, brewed. Seoul is THE place for coffee. So don’t just settle for a chain store like Starbucks. Use a guide.

Tea.
Seoul is very very very good for tea and tea houses. Treat yoself.

Mangoplate is a great app, but I find it’s often a bit out of date, as things change quickly in Seoul. I also use Time Out Seoul.

Where should you dance in Seoul?
That depends entirely on the day of the week, and whether there’s a big event on. Though it’s a little out of date, I still use Swing Dance In Korea (run by Adamas (KIM, Kang Seok)). This lists 15 different swing ‘bars’, and which days of the week are the ‘best’ for social dancing. Because Seoul is so high density, and there are relatively few big spaces for dancing, each of these ‘bars’ is essentially a dance studio devoted to lindy hop. Yes, there are at least 15 studios in Seoul alone where you can dance every day of the week.
These bars do look like dance studios, but they are incredibly well laid out. There are changing rooms, toilets, shoe and bag storage, heaters, air-con, great sound systems, and room for beer on tap and food. Yes, parties in Seoul include beer and snacks.

Note: not everyone who works in or runs these bars speaks English (or any language other than Korean), so you’ll need to learn some Korean words!

What night should you dance where?
Ah, that’s a tricky one. Adamas’ site does give you pretty reliable tips for which venues are ‘best’ for which nights. And by ‘best’ I mean have lots of people to dance with and a good DJ. But there are occasionally other things on – special band nights (!!!), classes with guest teachers, etc – which will change the ‘bestness’ of venues. For that you’ll need a) local contacts to ask, or b) post in the Fun Swing Dance In Korea facebook group. The latter is pretty good, but having a local contact is even better.
Yes, just as anywhere else in the world, you’ll have to make some local friends to get the most out of the local dance scene. YAY!

What is it like dancing in Seoul?
FUN.
The bars are crowded, and the music is good. Solid, swinging classic jazz. And the dancers are very, very good. There are, as per any scene, local politics and hierarchies which affect how people arrange themselves in the room, and who dances with who or asks who to dance. But as an out of towner, you can just ask anyone to dance, and they’ll probably say yes. If they say no, it’s usually because they feel very scared of dancing with someone they perceive as a ‘better’ dancer, or because they are just plain shy.

General stuff:

  • Dance one dance with each partner.
    You can ask for a second, but most people don’t. Say thanks and move on to your next victim! Ask anyone. As an out of towner, peeps will politely say yes, or even seek you out for a dance because you’re new and interesting. But as per usual, be cool with refusals, and be respectful.
  • Floor craft.
    Get it. Get it NOW. This is a big deal in Seoul, as floors are very crowded, and people are very good at not hurting each other. It’s not only good etiquette to be floor-safe, but also very socially important to respect other people’s dance space. Visiting leads, this means you: keep your rock steps tiny, and keep one eye open at all times. If you do stand on someone, hurt someone, touch someone, say sorry immediately. If it’s bad, you need to bow and check they’re ok. If you make contact with more than one person per dance, it’s you. It’s YOU. So you need to take yourself to the edge of the floor immediately.

    Important: how to say sorry in Korean.
    I use KWOW.

    “Mi ahn hae” is a casual way to say sorry to your peers or friends.
    BUT
    you don’t use this if you bump an aunty on the train! Then you add the ‘yo’ suffix: “mi ahn hae yo.”
    I like to add stop, say sorry, check in with the other person, add a little bow if I feel bad.

  • Music is fast.
    So get used to it. It’s only one song with each partner, but it’s crowded. My tips:
    – take small goddamm steps;
    – stay close to your partner;
    – hydrate regularly (you usually get a free drink card with entry price to parties);
    – change your shirt (everyone does) or dress (if you’re wearing them), especially in summer;
    – use deoderant.
    These last two are important in a culture where mutual respect is important. So don’t slack on this if you want to be polite.
  • Drinking and eating.
    There are little paper envelopes near big water tanks at most venues.


    For parties, there is often a keg of beer, paper cups (write your name on yours with pen), and lots of snacks, ranging from chips to fried chicken. Koreans can really hold their drinks, so be prepared. And don’t embarrass your mum. The snack room or table is a good place to meet people and make friends. Use your rubbishy beginner Korean and people will be charmed :D I find Korean dancers super friendly and nice, so it’s worth making an effort.
  • What to wear.
    Look, just wear what you’d usually dance in. For a regularly weekly dance, neat casual will work (eg jeans and tshirt, or dress pants and short sleeved shirt, nice dress or dress and blouse), but for a proper party or event, do it nice. Chloe Hong lives in Seoul, so you know the standards are high. You’ll see Korean men, for example, changing out of their gorgeous suits for the train ride home, to keep them safe. Men: avoid bare shoulders (ie no singlets/vests), and women, you can generally get away with everything, but be aware that Korean women are more likely to show leg than boob.
    Shoes.
    Do not wear your street shoes onto the dance floor. Do NOT.
    Koreans take their shoes off when entering a home or traditional restaurant, so this + respect for the floor = no street shoes on the floor.
  • Getting there.
    Catch a train! Most studios are near a train station. But be aware of a few things:
    – The last train usually leaves between 11.30pm and midnight;
    – Be sure you know which exit to use to get to the venue. The stations sprawl across levels and kilometres underground, but exits are clearly signed in english and korean;
    – use a multi-use train pass (like a metpass – called Tmoney), and keep it charged up with money. The train is crazy cheap, and not having the right money on your card is a bit shameful, as the gate will lock, then sing a loud song of shame :D;
    – missed the last train? Catch a cab. It’s very cheap. But remember what your address is in Korean, as most drivers don’t speak english. I usually memorise my closest station’s name in Korean pronounciation then add the suffix ‘yeog’ which sounds a bit like ‘yo’. Btw, you don’t tip in Soul.

Are you a DJ who’d like to DJ in Seoul?
Ok, this isn’t something I know a huge amount about. I do DJ when I go to Seoul, but usually only at bigger events. When I’m there for regular nights, I just want to DANCE!
Because there’re so many venues, and so much competition for crowds, DJing is pretty serious in Seoul, and I’ve no doubt the usual competition, rivalry, and professional networking and manoeuvering goes on.
So if I were you, I wouldn’t just jump in and ‘ask’ for a set. Because of language barriers (if you don’t speak Korean) and Korean manners (people will try to avoid being rude or shaming you), it can be very difficult for people to say ‘no’. Your asking for a set, then pushing the point will upset local balances and really make you looke like a jerk. So don’t be a jerk and put organisers and managers in awkward situations.

tbc…

Seoul Fashion Report, final

Neutral tones and natural fibres are de rigueur for the chic in Seoul this season. Straw hats and bags, leather sandals. Loose smock dresses, wide-legged cotton trousers. This most urban of urban cities is embracing a pastoral aesthetic, and they won’t let a little rain (and the threat of transparency!) dissuade them.