A festival that never was, but will beYou haven’t noticed, but Itaewon is now holding its international cultural festival, something it’s halfheartedly done every fall since the mid-’90s. The party got started last Thursday afternoon with a ceremony and a surprisingly nice little parade featuring a Chinese dragon dance and Korean farmers’ dance. The only problem with the march of drums and color down the main drag was that, because it was held on a workday, nobody was there to watch it.
Another thing was that it had nothing to do with Itaewon culture. I mean ― come on! If Itaewon is to have a parade, it should include everything free and fast and raw that makes our little ghetto the happiest place on earth.
In fact, once I’m in charge, Itaewon will get a parade that’ll do it justice. We’ll keep the block-long dragon and the whirligig hats, but we’ll flesh out the rest with local folk.
We’ll start with a platoon of GIs countried up in Wrangler jeans and cowboy boots. They’ll be line dancing, like they used to do at the Grand Ol’ Opry bar on Hooker Hill. Then we’ll have a crew of tailors chanting, “Custom-made suit for you today, sir?”
Next we’ll have a round of bargirls from dives like Indian Joe’s and Starbutts. They’ll be blowing kisses. Then a bouquet of flower-selling ajumma, shooting their “you’re stingy” looks to the men in the crowd. Then a twirl of Latin dancers from the Moon Night disco, spreading the salsa hot and thick.
What else? To promote a favorite Itaewon theme, miscegenation, we’ll have a gang of sharp-suited Nigerians strutting arm-in-arm with their long-legged Russian girlfriends.
Then we’ll have a procession of drag queens, flaunting their hard bodies and huge hairdos.
Then we’ll have some Raelians, decked out in silver V-stripe jumpsuits. Next will be the Christians who, to protect the audience, will be denied access to amplifiers and forced to march with socks in their mouths.
Then we’ll have the imams from the mosque in their loose gowns and bushy beards. They can be driving the minicars we’ll get from Shriners in the States.
Next we could have a roar of Harley Davidsons, from the Harley shop down the street in Hannam. Then a company of Africans in their baggiest hip-hop garb. Then a flash of back-dancing Koreans with hip-hop hair.
We’ll need a master of ceremonies ― Hong Suk-chon, the actor and restaurateur whom we can thank for having the words “Hooker Hill” and “Gay Hill” on the front page of the International Herald Tribune last week. And the whole thing will be held on the weekend at 3 a.m., not p.m.
For now, you’ll have to make do with a lackluster festival that closes Saturday. In years past, the food stalls and performance stage were on the main street. Now they’re hiding in an empty lot up from the Crown Hotel.
But hey, if you want to enjoy the real festival, you should probably just keep doing what you’re doing.
by Mike Ferrin