Live music, kebab and good company

Friday night I returned to Stompers in Itaewon for some more live music.  What I expected to be a fairly low key night of music ending in an early return home after a long week of teaching, instead turned in to an all-nighter in a far away place, concluding in an epic subway ride home Saturday morning, all but destroying my Saturday evening plans for Kimchibilly Night 7 in Hongdae.  However, Friday was fun to the point that I’m totally fine with deciding to take Saturday off.

My friend from work couldn’t meet up until later in the night, so wanting to see as much music as possible, I arrived in Itaewon by myself.  Choosing to not begin the evening on an empty stomach, I made an excellent decision on a quick dinner selection.  Ankara Picnic has the best kebab I’ve had in a long time.  It’s ridiculously delicious.  Then up the hill to Stompers I went, past the working girls hollering and pulling on my shirt.

Tonight The Pines and The Forty Days were playing, both fronted by the same keyboard playing singer.  Here are a few videos.  The girl Zee can really sing and did an amazing cover of Joplin’s Bobby McGee.  The music was really good, very entertaining bands.

During the performance I met a few other teachers that we ended up spending the rest of the night hanging out with.  As libations were consumed mayhem increased, much of it outside because the bar was damn hot.  In an act of alcohol abuse beers were tossed in the street, ice cubes hurled at each other, and I had a healthy debate on the probability of Caron Bulter leaving the Wizards for the Trail Blazers this upcoming season.  And I’m always stoked when given the opportunity to share the Banning’s Pie House sure fire hiccup cure… a single slice of lemon.  Thinking I was pretty cool, I drag her inside and ask the bartender for the magical lemon… but of course the hiccups go away on their own before she can eat the lemon, being forever grateful for my knowledge of curing the diaphragm spasm.  OK, maybe I’m not so cool.

Our time at Stompers ended with a Michael Jackson dance party.  In what seemed like an appropriate way to pay respects and celebrate the King of Pop, when the bands finished the bar played some of his timeless classics and everyone ‘danced the night away’.  It was the perfect way to start Saturday morning considering I was pretty shaken up first thing Friday morning by turning on the TV and receiving the news, still laying in bed.

Hungry, we head back down the hill in search of sustenance, and what better place than Ankara Picnic for kebab #2.  What occurred next was classic.  It was an act of aggression with roots deep in frustration.  An act requiring a set of cojones the size of watermelons.   Cars pay zero attention to pedestrians here, and for foreigners it can be very annoying because as a pedestrian, we’re used to having the right of way.  As we cross the street, in a move I’ve dreamed of but never actually thought I would see happen, as a black sedan speeds by cutting off half of our group in the middle of the street… one of the girls kicks the freaking car.  Sedan pulls over, she runs to hide in a convenient store, and a fight nearly breaks out between the driver and a witness to the act of bravado.  Thankfully no blows were thrown and we were on our way to delicious kebab.  Seeing the result, I definitely do not recommend following the lead of our brave friend, but I have to admit being a bit impressed.

What the…?  Arriving at Ankara and finding it closed was deeply disappointing.  How dare they deny me my second delicious kebab fix of the evening.  Even though it was after 2:30am we still seemed to think that it was absolutely unacceptable for them to be closed.  Fortunately, we walked straight in to a mobile kebab truck and settled for the next best thing.  It was cheaper, and not nearly as good, but at this point in the night it did the trick.

In a decision that drastically extended the length of the evening, we escorted the ladies back to experience the Ilsan nightlife.  Ilsan is a satellite city in the Northwest of Seoul.  Everything felt new and modern.  It was very different from my current neighborhood in Sangdo or my past neighborhood in NW Portland.

I’m glad I experienced it both at night and in the morning.  People go big here, and will party until the sun comes up and the subways start running again, that way you have extra fun and avoid the cab ride home.  And the street scene is always entertaining in the morning.  Partied out people still in their attire from the night before, some with mashed hair or untucked shirts after shacking, stomach remnants of people that drank too much on the sidewalk, groups having breakfast outdoors… all mixing with families starting their normal Saturday morning routine of pleasant walks, food and shopping.

My subway ride home was memorable for a few reasons.  It seemed really long, transferring at least 3 times.  Ilsan is at the end of #3 line.  Also, my patience as a foreigner was put to the sleep deprived test on an uncomfortably hot and sticky morning.  As I board the train I’m spotted right away as someone who looks different by what I gathered was a mentally handicapped adult, who begins waving vigorously in my direction.    As I walk past him I smile and wave back, doing my best to appear as the friendly and respectful foreigner.  So I decide to post up at the other end of the subway, but as I look up here comes dude in my direction.  The older lady that he is sitting with repeatedly asks him to sit down, but he’s not concerned with her requests.  So now he’s standing beside me, sharing the door opening, staring and asking questions in Korean that I of course cannot understand.  So I remove my earbuds, smile, and say I’m sorry I can’t understand you.  He doesn’t care if I can understand or not, it appears to be his job on this Saturday morning to make me understand, so I try my best to have fun with it.  As he points at things of interest outside, making hand motions and gestures, smiling and making statements, I point as well, giving my best impression of pretending to know what he’s talking about.

He quiets down for a few minutes and I think I’m in the clear, but as soon I put the earbuds back in the onslaught starts again, and this time he’s announcing things that I cannot understand very loudly to the rest of the passengers.  Awkward and uncomfortable?  Very.  But if I really wanted out I could have just walked in to the next car.  However, I did not want to appear rude, and I figured I could handle the guy, giving him the satisfaction of a successful conversation with the blue eyed American.  Soon enough a seat opened up, and after I refused his offer of the seat to me, he decided to sit and quiet down.  As I exited I smiled and waved goodbye in his direction. He returned the gesture so I felt pretty good about myself.

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~ by ripcitytoseoul on June 28, 2009.

3 Responses to “Live music, kebab and good company”

  1. Banning’s always has the late night cure for whatever ails you.

  2. Premium article, great looking weblog, added it to my favorites.

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