Tuesday, 26 October 2004

Saturday Night's Suspected Date

One of my favourite things about Korea are the dancing girls. I don't think I've talked about the dancing girls before, but they cannot fail to cheer my heart whenever I see them.

Invariably, when a new shop opens in Korea (which is often), the dancing girls are dragged out to perform. In front of the main door an archway made from balloons is placed, and to the side of this archway two podiums sit. And on these podiums two pretty young girls, clad in plastic with dinky skirts, dance to utterly ludicrous techno. These poor girls can be seen in both the height of summer and the depths of winter, bopping for hour upon hour.

This weekend had some dancing girls of a different variety, that of girls not clad in plastic skirts and dancing outside shops, but within a nightclub though to equally mental music.

On Saturday evening I met with Jessy, real name "Suk-jeong" the glam-girl ex-teacher from my school. After last week's suspected date, I was to meet her friends and go drinking. We met and had a meal first, at a busy and bright restaurant with a man dressed as Spiderman outside. This man was leaping about enthusiastically, and this ploy appeared to successfully draw in an unending stream of customers. Later, he began waiting on the tables, which was an odd sight.

Suk-jeong's friends, Min-jeong joined us. Suk-jeong, being highly attractive, meant that her friend was likewise very attractive, and this is the great advantage of knowing attractive people. Min-jeong couldn't speak much English but was a lively girl and my Korean was good enough to have patches of chat with her.

We soon moved from this bright, Spiderman-filled restaurant to a bar, which was darker, cosier, and quieter, and with a good atmosphere, and out came the soju.

At this point I became a little nervous, I admit. Yes, nervous. I haven't felt nervous about drinking with a lady for a long time. But I think it was because it was quite clear that what I was on was some kind of date, and I've never been on a date before. I mean, dating has always been a totally alien concept to me. And this was a date with an exceptionally attractive girl too.

Thankfully, a few shots of soju calmed the nerves, and helped my Korean to flow, which was in fairly good form on Saturday night. It goes in waves, from being able to speak quite well (relatively) to forgetting even the basics, but it was in a healthy state that night. Suk-jeong's English is far better than my Korean anyway, so most actual conversing was done in English, but with frequent little bursts of Korean.

A friend of theirs then joined us, this time a guy, with only fragmentory English but a naturally entertaining manner. I got on with him quite well, he relaxed the proceedings a little and I think he paid for all the food and drinks too. Koreans often like to do this - pay for everything - and he did it so stealthily I wasn't aware it happened. I suspect too that he paid for all the drinks in the nightclub we then went to, as I certainly didn't and never had even the vaguest opportunity to do so.

So we moved to a nightclub then, but a Korean one and so only a distant relation of what the term nightclub meant to me back in Scotland. It's got music and alcohol I suppose, but everything else has a different twist. Crazy pop-techno that doesn't belong in any era, distinctly homo-erotic Korean male dancers onstage, vast numbers of seats with a dancing podium plunked in the middle with about enough space for 15 people to dance, and hundreds of waiters, possibly equalling the numbers of customers. This is a phenomenon not restricted to nightclubs but to supermarkets too, and makes me wonder how on earth these venues can make profit when there are legions of employees swarming but doing very little of actual use.

In the nightclub we were joined by Min-jeong's sister and a few other attractive female friends. Beers appeared on our table, along with the obligatory tray of fruit apparently essential to all nightclub proceedings, and the night blurred along enjoyably. There was some dancing, some munching of fruit, some drinking, and some talking in broken English and Korean. One girl gave me her monkey. This isn't a euphimism, she actually gave me her monkey teddy and insisted I wear it round my neck.

It was a good night then, finishing at about 4am. Whether a date or not I still don't know, but I do know that I've been invited to Geoje-do with Suk-jeong and some others I think. Geoje-do is a small but very attractive island on the south coast, and the plan is to go there in a few weeks for the weekend.

Sunday was quite rough and I didn't do much. I wasn't too drunk on Saturday night, but soju is a nasty substance sometimes and hence I took a gentle Sunday of relaxing, drinking juice, and eventually studying Korean. A good weekend though, overall.

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