Dancing ban a thing of the pastIt is nearly impossible to get a taxi in the Hongik University neighborhood at 4 a.m. on a weekend. Youngsters line up to get a cab after dancing at clubs all night. They want to get home at around 4 a.m., when the nighttime surcharge ends. That’s why street vendors around taxi stands open at around 4 a.m. On Thursday night, I met Miss Y at a club, and she told me, “It’s only fun when I dance all night.”
But please don’t assume Miss Y is a delinquent. She is a responsible, young college student. On her backpack was a yellow ribbon that Koreans wear in memory of the Sewol ferry disaster victims. The college junior had her textbooks and test prep materials in her bag. But she asked to remain anonymous because “grown-ups think you are a delinquent if you stay out all night at a club.” But she argued that she could relieve stress for hours by paying a 10,000 won ($8.45) admission, and it was her only escape.
Miss Y and other clubbers were furious to learn that the revised Food Sanitation Act would ban dancing at clubs in Hongdae that are licensed as general restaurants, which pay lower tax rates. Foreigners also thought the change was something out of last century. “You must be joking,” said Joe McPherson, who operates tours for foreigners. “If you can’t dance at clubs in Hongdae, there is no point of going to clubs. It would only negatively affect Seoul and Korea’s brand image.”
Fortunately, Mapo District came up with a belated solution. The Hongdae Club Ordinance allows dancing in the seats at general restaurants. In the end, the dance ban wasn’t put into effect. But what if it had gone through? It could have resulted in something like the “Allow Dance Halls in Seoul” petition being submitted, as it was for the dance hall ban during the Japanese occupation in 1937. Now in 2015, the vices remain unchanged. Miss Y argued, “It’s okay for older people to drink bomb shots and go to karaoke bars, but it’s not desirable for young people to go dancing? Clubbing is no different from going to karaoke. They don’t understand.”
The author is a political and international news writer for the JoongAng Ilbo.
JoongAng Ilbo, Sept. 12, Page 27
by CHUN SU-JIN