Get the party started

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Get the party started

The music is rocking, your friends are laughing and the crowd is dancing. You're having a great time at a party that you heard about from a friend of a friend of a friend. Or you saw a poster in Hongdae. Or you went online and read a posting.

In any case, you're probably in a hotel ballroom, of all the strange places. And if the vibe is really good, all you can think is, "Hey Mr. Deejay, put a record on. I want to dance with my baby."

Hours later, perhaps after dawn, people start leaving. Your feet start hurting. The music mellows. The crowd dwindles.

Maybe there's an after-party party. Maybe you want to get a snack with your friends. Maybe you want to go home and rest, for the next one.

Just when is the next party? And who creates these events? Read on.




Sway brought class to parties, and parties to the Apgujeong-dong class. "I wasn't inspired by the party scene here," says one of its founders, Miggi Chi. "I wanted to do something of my own. I didn't realize how hard it would be."

From fashion model to fashionable party promoter, Ms. Chi has a list of clients that many companies would die for, if not pay for. Since Sway was founded last winter, it has hosted parties for Sony Playstation and the British clothing label Carnaby. Ms. Chi's parties are usually south of river, at places such as the S Bar or Clap, with a jetsetting mixture of fashionistas, bankers and local celebrities.

Next year, Sway plans to continue what it does best: launching parties, dinner parties, cocktail parties, fashion parties, boutique parties, private parties. Whatever the occasion, when Sway does it, it's elegant, and creative.

What are the key components to a party?

Music and people. Interior and theme don't matter as much. Wherever there's good crowd, there's more people. Wherever there's good music, there's a good crowd.

What do you do to put together a good party?

I like parties. When I go to a party, I'm usually thinking. I see empty spots, and I try to fill it for my party. As a customer, I see it so that my customers will see it, too.

How do people find out about events?

We go out and promote ourselves. We rarely put up posters. People come through word of mouth. Sometimes when people ask when our next party is, we don't let out until the timing is right.

What's the best thing about your job?

Meeting new people. Bringing parties to people. Seeing all the smiles.

What's the worst thing?

As a model, people are always coming up to me. As a party promoter, it's the other way around. I have to be the one smiling because now I'm the one giving a service to others. That's a little hard.

What are you listening to now?

Danny Tenaglia. I'm always good to go with his music.

When you're 70 years old, you'll be ...

Sitting on a beach, listening to good music. By then, I'll have had too much of the city life, party life.


The hip quotient at Q Bar in Thailand is impossibly high. It has been written about in Time, Travel + Leisure and Conde Nast Traveler magazines. Q Bar's resident deejay, Joeki, will be in Korea for several Halloween parties. One party, with general admission, is at the Grand Hyatt Seoul on Oct. 25. Joeki spins a mixture of acid jazz, Latin and tribal house.




Deejay or party promoter? Yon Chu wrestled, and still wrestles, with the question. But the route he has chosen is party promoter. His company, Subsonic, was launched several months ago. He booked DJ Kimball Collins in September and promoted parties for other companies.

Mr. Chu and his company are among the younger party organizers in Seoul. But an endless supply of energy and an excitement for music has landed Subsonic another deal helping with an event that headlines Michael Myers.

How did you get started?

I was the public relations manager at Smile, a club in Apgujeong. Then I met with the Sickboy people and did PR for them. I learned the ropes, became their PR manager, and then branched off.

What has been the best moment so far?

It was at the Kimball Collins party. Kimball had been playing for an hour. I went up to the deejay booth to bring him some water. He said, "I'm all right, but I have to go to the bathroom."

I said, "Hurry up, I'll watch the decks."

I turned around and I saw all the people dancing to the music in a party that I created.

What's the best party you have been to?

My first party two years ago, Bad Boy Bill at Triport Hall. Back then, I lived in Uijeongbu. I traveled two hours for this party.

At one point, they turned off all the music, and all the lights. It was like a boxing match. An announcer came out and said, "Ladies and gentlemen, from Chicago, Illinois, U.S. of A. Bad Boy ..." Bad Boy Bill started to mix right there. The crowd started going off. It was a good night.

What do you do to prepare for a party?

I make sure all my employees are there, including security guards, bar tenders, ticketing people, cleanup crew. I brief them about our game plan. Check sound. Test lights. Make sure bar is fully stocked. After all the preparation is done, I make sure everyone gets a good meal to eat, because it's going to be a long night.

NEXT PARTY: Michael Myers

If any deejay can be credited with founding the trance scene in Philadelphia, Michael Myers is the guy. When describing his musical style Myers says: "I play whatever moves me ... it's energetic, four-to-the-floor, club-oriented dance music, with the occasional break beat or electro breakdown. I like to take a record that is basically a journey within itself and fuse it with other records to take the listener on a trip."

Myers will be at Archee on Friday for a free party.




Some people know exactly what they'll be doing from the moment they start college. Tommy was throwing parties when he wasn't studying. But it was something he did for fun.

He left New York for Seoul in 1998. A couple months later, he read about a party in the Seoul Classifieds. "I had no idea there was something like this," he says. He started hanging out in Hongdae, where he met Morgan Wilbur and the Sickboy guys. "They were probably the only ones at that time bringing in deejays through parties," he says. From there, he met others who wanted to start a production company. That was 1999. The rest, as they say, is history.

What's the vision for 02?

Put Seoul on the international map in terms of this kind of culture, this kind of music. We've brought Bad Boy Bill, Sandra Collins and Christopher Lawrence. When people think of party scene, they think of Hong Kong, Tokyo. But Seoul is part of the scene, too

How do you find who's hot?

I'm always picking up the deejays at the airport and driving them. We talk about what's hot, what's not. The deejays are the ones who are out there and know what's going on. Nine out of 10 times, they're right.

When you're 70 years old, you'll be ...

I'll be out there partying. [Laughs] Settled down, I think. Living a quiet life with my grandkids.

Tips for aspiring party planners?

I don't want any more competition. You can put it in like that.

Tips for aspiring deejays?

Practice, make mix tapes, listen to your mix tapes, and promote yourself as much as possible. Get them out to the right people. Don't be shy.

NEXT PARTY: Danny Howells

Danny Howells is a clubber's deejay. At Vinyl in New York, he's legendary for 10-hour sets. That gives him plenty of time for his trademark languid builds. That's not to say his music is slow. He spins groovy bass lines with strong beats, keeping the crowd up for hours.

While he has spun with the likes of Sasha and Digweed on their Northern Exposure U.K. tour, he's still something of an underground deejay. He'll be at Hilton's new club, Areno, on Nov. 8.



FOUNDERS: Morgan Wilbur, Robb Harker

Almost four years ago, Robb Harker tried to organize a party at NBINB, a techno club in Hongdae. Mr. Harker's Koreans skills were nil, so he called Morgan Wilbur and asked him for help. "We expected 50 to 100 people," Mr. Harker says. "We had 800. We were very surprised."

It was the beginning of a friendship, and a partnership that would be called Sickboy. They have helped build the music scene here to what it is today. And with the core of the techno clubs now in Hongdae, Sickboy is starting to look south of the river: "So we don't just focus on the Hongdae crowd, but Seoul as a whole," Mr. Wilbur says.

The grand scheme has always been Sickboy's forte. In the past, Sickboy has brought superstar deejays such as Fatboy Slim. Their next large party is Sasha in December.

What's the best thing about your job?

Wilbur: Working hours and freedom. We're in charge of what we do. For a certain personality, it rocks.

What's the worst thing about your job?

Wilbur: The hours, and that we have to make all the decisions. We have freedom with hours, but it takes a lot of commitment.

What are you listening to now?

Wilbur: A lot of U.K. garage and two step. Like MJ Cole. A lot of soulful hip-hop like Ceelo.

Harker: Sasha's new album.

How do you find who's hot?

Harker: Keep tabs on music magazines. When I travel, I talk to different promoters, and I start hearing the same names.

Have you discovered new talent?

Wilbur: Strangely enough, we haven't discovered, but we have booked people or worked with people who weren't famous yet.

In terms of local deejays, no one travels outside of Korea. A couple people working for us, once they start moving outside of Korea, we'll be able to say we discovered them.


Twilo was once the focal point of the U.S. club culture. The legendary club in New York City may have shut down, but two of its resident deejays, Sasha and Digweed, are still at the forefront of global dance music.

Muzik magazine named him the world's No. 1 deejay last year. Sasha, who has remixed for Madonna and the Chemical Brothers, will be at the Sheraton Walker Hill hotel on Dec. 14.

Sickboy is also organizing the closing party for the digital film festival ResFest on Dec. 6. James Lavaelle will be the deejay.




Fluxus is a music label, not a party organizer. Yet, being the label, and not the organizer, has only enhanced Fluxus' ability to throw parties.

The label was launched in April. Fluxus's first album release party, for Towa Tei's "Sweet Robots Against the Machine," drew close to 3,000 people to the Hyatt's ballroom.

This winter, Fluxus will be releasing another Towa Tei album, a best-of CD distributed only in Korea. The album will be an ocassion for another new relase party. If all goes to plan, DJ Crusher will also be headlining.

How are you different from party organizers?

Most party organizers book a deejay, throw a party, and that's the end. For us, the party is the sub. The music is the main.

Suggestions for aspiring musicians?

Try something that no one else is doing.

When you're 70, you will be ...

The president of a major music label.

Where do you see your company going next year?

We have contracts with several local artists.

Best party you've been to?

It wasn't a party, but an outdoor concert in the rain. I used to be with Pipi Band, and we played on the rooftop of the Burger King near Gangnam Subway Station. It was great. It felt like a scene straight out of the Beatles' "Hard Day's Night."


An album titled "Sweet Robots Against the Machine" is bound to generate curiosity. Are the robots fighting each other? Is there a mother machine? What does this have to do with music? And who's the person on the album jacket?

The brains behind the album is Towa Tei, producer, remixer, artist, musician. His first performance in Korea was a release party for the aforementioned album. He'll be returning in December to the Grand Hyatt Seoul.

by Joe Yong-hee

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