My first travel in South Korea was short and I was quite busy with work. I didn’t really have time to wander around and only visited Seoul. The city is huge and even there, I stayed only in one area that my friends recommended – Hongdae. That’s why my first post on tango in Seoul only focused on one district of Seoul – Mapo-gu – where you can find o nada 1 and o nada 2. I had the opportunity to travel back to Korea and I came back to some of the milongas I knew. It was still great and my top 3 milongas in Mapo are Farol, Bulgeum and Alegre.
But this time I decided to give a chance to other milongas and I crossed the river. I explored Gangnam and I had good surprises there. I also traveled to more distant lands and cities. In fact, I will speak about Gangnam in Seoul and 2 other cities, Daejon (middle of the country) and Busan (South coast of the country).
It seems people like to dance in Gangnam because dancers are more open and social. As I don’t speak Korean, I didn’t feel a big difference and the dance experience was similar. Anyway, as in any big city, you find rilvary between the districts.
First, practical things to know if you also intend to explore the tango in Korea. 1/ Seoul is really big and going from one area to the other area will take a little less than 1 hour by metro. Forget about taking a taxi during the day, you will spend hours in the traffic but it will be a good solution to come back during the night. 2/ Going to Daejon by bus takes 2 hours and buses are quite comfortable. It is a good deal. 3/ To travel in Busan, take the KTX, express train, it will take you 2 hours and half to arrive to the beach.
Now, let’s have a look at my favorite milongas after crossing the river Han. I don’t have pictures of the milongas so I will just insert pictures of the super nice food I ate during the tipuri. Tipuri is some kind of after party where dancers are all going to the same restaurant after dancing. Sharing a drink with the dancers is a great moment and even if you don’t understand nothing about the chats, it is a good moment. It is still a tango blog and not a food blog but once again, korean food is great.
Gangnam – Luminoso (el tango on Monday)
Hyun Jung, alias Trees, organizes the milonga “Luminoso” in the studio el tango situated in Gangnam every Monday. This milonga was my first experience in the south part of the city and I really enjoyed the venue, the music and the atmosphere. I came back there every week finding back the good atmosphere and in particular the really good music: one week with DJ Chris Han, a korean DJ living in Australia and the next week DJ Nero from Seoul playing with records.
The venue of this milonga is bigger than the other one I visited before. It is a good point. Even when it is crowded you can breath around the dancefloor. The space is quite big but dancers behaves really good while dancing. A kind reminder of the rules is also placed near the change room. There is always special drink and food at the bar.
If you want to have an idea of the milonga in image, you can watch the video of Jinny about Luminoso at the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RmAqZUiaog0.
Trees not only organizes Luminoso on Monday but she organizes it also 3 others times in different venues during the week. Yes, 4 milongas per week… She is a serious professional and got the award of best organizer last year (a special interview from Jinny here again: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YvaJsQx8ZJk).
She is also supported with a super nice team. Frenchy who is always energetic and smiling at the bar (she didn’t speak French with me), Kim who will receive you well as he always try to take care of the guests and G-gun supporting before and after the milonga and also dancing when possible. There are more people in the team but I didn’t really had time to know them well. But when you come back to Luminoso, it is also for the smiling team.
Daejeon – Pong (o nada on Friday)
Jong-Bae, Yunsu and Dorothy take care of the milonga. They are very welcoming. They will be the first to offer you a drink and a tanda to throw you in the milonga. They give their good energy to the milonga and you can feel they want to offer a perfect night. When they don’t organize Pong milonga, you have big chances to meet them in Seoul or Busan.
Daejeon is a crossroad in South Korea and the good place to meet dancers from all the cities of the country (Seoul, Busan, Daegu, Daejeon….). Once per month is organized Pong milonga on Friday and little groups of dancers are coming from different cities. At the beginning, each group takes a table, forming like city tables, but quickly they dance all together and mix to chat and share drinks.
The milonga venue is not so big but if you danced before in Seoul, you will not be surprised. The dance level is high but not competitive. The dancers travelling are doing it often, sometimes every week to various cities. They are well received and they bring a home feeling without being at home. It is very interesting as it is not always usual.
Just a little of history: Pong milonga takes place in “o nada”. If “o nada” reminds you something in Seoul, you should know that Daejeon didn’t copy Seoul. In fact, Daejeon was the first city with tango in South Korea with the creation of “o nada”. Later the owner of “o nada – Daejeon ” moved to Seoul and opened new tango places in the capital city.
Daejeon is a city with nice meat restaurants and the place to try the beef sashimi. Someone also told me that the main reason dancers are gathering in the city is the food, and not the tango. I think people come for both. Daejeon dancers dance, eat and drink a lot. Anyway, afterparty in Daejeon is something you will not forget.
Busan – Tango mio (studio with various milongas)
Busan has a tango marathon but the city also have a lot of milongas. Almost everyday if you include practice. All the milongas are localized in Seomyeon, a super active district who live all night long. It fits well with tango. I visited 4 different milongas with 3 taking place in the studio Tango mio. Each milonga was different from a friendly and calm one on Friday to an animated one on Saturday. I also experienced the over crowded birthday milonga which is the rule for a great birthday party.
In any case, I had good feelings in all these milongas and I met a lot of dancers. And it was not only meeting the dancers to dance but also to know them a little better and chat. Busan gives this feeling of non capital city where people are less distant and more interested. Atmosphere is just more relaxed.
Venue and milonga are very similar with Seoul. Venue with good floor, air condition, changing room, etc. Every milonga with a free buffet and water. Just remember, alcohol can’t be sold and you have to bring your own. That’s why you will always see the dancers with beers can. Most of the DJ I heard where guest DJ from Seoul but the reason must be I visited the milongas during the week end.
Of course, on the pictures, you recognized fish sashimi. Busan has a lot of fish restaurant and you can’t miss the fresh sea food if you visit the city
If you want to discover more about the milongas in Korea, I invite you to visit the page of Jinny tv. You will find a lot of videos about the milongas there https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnCXqR7enHJ8xnhualNh_Ug.