After two more months in Seoul, I will finally report what I have been doing again. The last few weeks have been extraordinarily busy for me, since I’ve been taking up freelance videography during my stay here. After a lot of hard work, I have been able to make my journey all the way to the top almost complete. Last week I filmed in Seoul’s Octagon, the #7 club in the world. This means I have plenty of anecdotes and experiences I can talk about when it comes to the Korean club life and going out with friends.
Let’s start at the beginning. The Korean clubs are mainly located in three different „party districts“ of the city. The first one is Hongdae, the student area, mainly for people ages 19-25, which is about the age of the university students who live close by or study in the many universities around the area. In Hongdae it’s mostly all about EDM and other kinds of electronic music, but there are also a lot of smaller live music bars if that’s what you prefer. If you’re more of a Hip Hop person, you will like one of the many Hip Hop clubs scattered across the greater Hongdae area. The most popular clubs in Hongdae are Aura, Vera and Track. The first two have been around for over 10 years each, so you could say that they are established names amongst DJs and clubgoers alike. Club Track is the latest addition to the list, after a lengthy renovation period, that started around July, right before I arrived in Korea. Before the renovation, it was called M2, opened in 2004 (15 years!) and it was renowned for it’s broad music selection, amazing atmosphere and great sound system. I can attest that it carries over, but now in a different genre selection. Club Track is now becoming the new Techno/Tech House place of Hongdae, which is very good to see, for reasons I will get to later. Aura and Vera are also very broad with their music selection, playing everything from Trap to Hardstyle on a regular basis. Aura has very long lines on every day that it’s open and is really crowded on the weekends. They also have a very harsh door policy that goes against people who don’t follow the dress code of the club or look too foreign. The theme of rejection against foreigners is a topic I will get into when it comes to Gangnam, the fancy, high-end area of Seoul.
But before I go over to Gangnam, I will just briefly mention Itaewon, also known as the spot where all the foreigners hang out. Itaewon also has a thriving club scene, but it mostly consists of Hip Hop clubs and the clubs in Itaewon generally prefer to play Hip Hop music. There are two very prominent EDM clubs in Itaewon, Club Move and Made Itaewon, which are both managed by Gangnam clubs and groups. I will keep this section short, as I have never been to any Itaewon clubs, since I don’t really like the vibe of the nightlife there. The two times I’ve been there were’t really enjoyable, since there a lot of drunk and loud people, who won’t shy away from fighting with you if they feel you insulted them too much. Too dangerous with my camera gear. But you might enjoy it, if you aren’t carrying thousand of dollars of equipment around with you.
Gangnam is an amazing and fancy city. The area where I spent most of my days, filming and having fun in general. The most well known clubs in the area, before the Burning Sun incident (which I will briefly get into later), were Octagon, Arena and Burning Sun, all very highly regarded and visited by the rich and beautiful of the city. But after a scandal, which involved a lot of illegal stuff, Arena and Burning Sun closed their doors permanently and the staff and DJs moved on to greener pastures. Octagon is still open and after these two clubs closed, it enjoyed an influx of customers. Now the club landscape mainly consists of Club Face, Mass, Label and Aqua. The last three are now being renovated, which means Club Face, which is in my opinion, by far the most exclusive club in Gangnam, is now ontop. It has a strict „no foreigners“ policy at the door, and even Koreans are handpicked by the security guards. There is a strict dresscode you have to abide to, to get in. Once you do get in, you’re in for a big treat, as the sound system is one of the best in the Korean clubbing scene, only beaten by Octagon’s „Funktion One“ sound system, the best that money can buy. The atmosphere in Gangnam clubs is a lot different than in the Hongdae clubs. Since the age group is a lot older, the average age seems to be around 25-27, the people have a lot more money to spend, and there is a lot of spending and showing off going on in the clubs, especially Face, which is open every day of the week, from 10pm to 11am. In order to really have fun as a guy in a Gangnam club, people say you must buy a table. Tables get more expensive as they get closer to the stage/DJ Booth. The least expensive table Club Face offers costs about 350,000 Korean Won, which translates to about 300 Euros. It goes up all the way to 10,000,000 Won, which is almost 10,000 Euros, for just one night. These are the VIP tables and they are placed behind the DJ Booth, which makes them really desirable. After you bought a ridiculously expensive table, you need to get drunk, so you gotta buy some bottles or bottle sets, which can also get really expensive. The cheapest bottle starts at 350,000 Won and it goes all the way up to a 16,500,000 Won Armand de Brignac 10 Bottle champagne set. It’s not uncommon to see people at the pricy tables buying that set. At my first job in Club Face, one of the tables ordered bottle sets equivalent to 35,000 Euros in one night. Some people earn that in an entire year. Let that sink in for a second.
In conclusion: If you’re a foreign visitor in your early 20s and like electronic music, you’re probably going to have a lot of fun in Hondae. Otherwise, you will enjoy Itaewon, with it’s many Western style bars and other foreigners you can talk to in English. I’ve also heard a lot German around these places, the two times I went there. The Korean nightlife is truly amazing and something that every visitor to Korea should experience at least once.