The party line: loud and lively

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The party line: loud and lively

Sickboy Pro and Fatboy Slim. One promotes music, the other plays it. On Friday night in Seoul, they'll both be turning up the volume.

Sickboy, a firm that publicizes dance sounds, is gambling that the Korean party scene is ready to take a leap to the next level, as the firm brings the celebrated DJ Fatboy Slim to the capital for an all-night blowout of electronic music and dancing.

Friday's event is part of the promoters' plans to bookend the World Cup with two of the biggest parties possible. Fatboy Slim, one of the most famous names in dance music, performs Friday at Central City Millennium Hall. According to Sickboy, FIFA representatives have declared the event the unofficial opening night party. On June 28, the Friday before the final World Cup match, Paul Van Dyk, another superstar DJ, performs at Triport Hall.

"When we started Sickboy," said Robb Harker, a founding member, "we had no idea we would come to something like this. Looking back, everything we did in the last three years built to this."

The two events are part of a new party concept called Seoulscape, launched on the eve of the opening of the World Cup. "We've gotten e-mails from people in France and Brazil asking about the party," Mr. Harker said.

Fatboy Slim's first performance in Seoul is on a Friday, a most-coveted night for the best DJs and a sign of Korea's growing presence in the international scene.

This will be Sickboy's first party at the Millennium Hall, which holds up to 5,000 people ?a major step up from their usual raves that draw about 1,500. The hall is south of the Han River, near the Express Bus Terminal on subway line No. 3.

The numbers are a gamble the company is willing to take. If all goes well, the guys at Sickboy hope to create an indie label and perhaps a clothing line.

Tickets are 60,000 won, 70,000 won at the door. For more information, visit the Web site,


Visit Yeouinaru subway station, and you'll see Nike's latest campaign featuring Funk Seoul Brothers ?World Cup soccer players. But if you want to check out the Funk Soul Brother, try the Millennium Hall on Friday night.

On Friday, Jon Carter and Midfield General, both from the United Kingdom, will be joining Fatboy Slim to promote Fatboy's new album, "Live on Brighton Beach." Sickboy's Dave Benz, Sal, Yeonjun and Kyu will also be spinning.

For almost 20 years, Fatboy Slim, born Norman Cook, has been making music, first with British groups The Housemartins, Beats International and Freakpower. He went on to become Pizzaman, then Mighty Dub Katz, all the while developing his big beat sounds.

In 1997, going solo as Fatboy Slim, he released "Better Living Thru Chemistry," and a new alias took off.

Some would call his music electronic, but it has what Paul Van Dyk calls a rock and roll approach. The two have performed at the same concerts in the past.

The deeper a listener gets into Fatboy Slim's music, the more lost in the singular sounds he becomes. Disco, reggae, samples from a Doors track, the voice of Macy Gray and house music, are plugged into the repetitive beats that get inside your head and won't leave you alone.

After "Better Living" came "You've Come a Long Way Baby," "Halfway Between the Gutter and the Stars" and "Live on Brighton Beach," inspired by music from a concert there.

Fatboy is coming from Singapore, where he performed on Wednesday. After Korea, he will be spinning in Japan four times. Will he return to Korea, perhaps to join Paul Van Dyk? We'll have to wait to see how Friday turns out, according to organizers.

Morgan Wilbur, a founding member of Sickboy, said, "It's a party with Fatboy Slim headlining. If people don't go, the party scene in Korea is not happening. If it does go, just sit back as Korea catches up with the rest of Asia."


The first time going to Korea," Paul Van Dyk says from his studio in Germany, "I thought O.K., let's see what's going on in that country." It was 1999 and "letting loose" on the dance floor to music other than rock or Korean pop was still a foreign concept to many. Van Dyk distinctly recalls the audience standing there staring at him. But he did connect with the audience and got them dancing. "I played music they probably never heard before," he says about his mix of progressive trance, which has revolutionized electronic music.

His second visit reassured him that techno music was viable in Korea. "You need an open-minded cosmopolitan crowd to let loose," he says. "I found it in Seoul and now I'm coming back."

The timing of this visit is heavy with irony. Clubs in Seoul's major dance neighborhood, Hongdae, are fighting arcane zoning laws that makes dancing there illegal; Van Dyk's first mix album, just released in late 2001, was called "Politics of Dancing." Van Dyk says, "Many authorities don't understand the importance of youth culture and how people understand each other through music."

His music might not be able to bring understanding between the two Koreas, but Van Dyk, who grew up in Berlin before the two Germanies become one, talks about respect and tolerance. "In our modern world, respect and tolerance sound flat," he says. "But if there would be respect, there would be no war, no Afghanistan, no Israel, no division of North Korea and South Korea."

Here, he talks about his first gig and his music.

Q : How'd you become a DJ?

A : I never wanted to be a DJ. It just happened. I made mix tapes for me and my friends using music from labels like Guerrilla Record and Warp Record. At that time, all that was available in Germany was deep techno. There was not a lot of emotion. It was mostly energy and noise.

My mix tapes got passed around. Promoters got a hold of it and asked me to play.

Q : Do you remember your first gig?

A : Trizo in Berlin. Everyone who's a bedroom DJ knows you try to keep the bass out of the tracks when you're playing at home. When you're playing at a club, suddenly, it's about playing it loud. It's all about the bass.

Q : What's the best club you've performed at?

A : That's an unfair question. I'm from Berlin and I love my city. It's the best thing to play for your home crowd.

You spend a lot of time traveling to clubs in other countries. You don't leave home without ...?

My Sony 9506 headphones, G4 Mac powerbook, socks, clothes and underwear.

by Joe Yong-hee

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