The 6th annual Salsa Festival in Busan

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For one night, Laura, Esther and I headed to Busan for the 6th Annual Salsa Festival. I didn’t realize just how big salsa was until I went. Yeah, there are a few groups here in Daegu, that focus on teaching salsa to a t and then dancing the night away. I guess being at the beach and seeing such a large group of people made me see just how interested Koreans were. According to Busan Haps,

Koreans liked the dance so much that in the early 2000s, they started holding salsa congresses, big, weekend-long events that involve social dancing, performances and dance workshops. […] By 2008, salsa was so popular in Korea that multiple congresses would be held around the same time. This was a big change from the almost non-existent salsa scene in the whole of Asia just ten years prior.

When I got there it was a bit intimidating to see. Koreans, as is in their educational nature, are extremely hardcore when it comes to their studies. Salsa is no exception. You can see in their moves that they’ve practiced a LOT, it becomes a solid choreographed series of moves. So you can imagine as a Latina, I feel a bit embarrassed that I don’t know all the moves, or that they aren’t sharp enough. Though I grew up with this kind of music, salsa and merengue were the natural things played at birthday parties and barbecues, it was something that I never got really good at until I came to Korea. Go figure, right? The foreigner group (aka my friends) who taught it to me, though we practiced each Saturday night… it felt like we did it for the sheer fun of it. We were a bunch of ragamuffins getting together to have some fun. In other words, we don’t practice the ballroom salsa you see in a lot of the Korean groups. For me, my background is “street” salsa, what your uncle Carlos was doing and trying to teach the kids. My friends, who attend salsa parties more often than I do have told me how Koreans have been so surprised when my friends tell them they don’t take official lessons. That they’ve practiced from just doing it at parties.

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The night was amazing! Laura, Esther and I felt like we came, we danced, we conquered. We knew it was a successful night when we felt like we were showering in sweat. Seriously, it was so disgustingly awesome! Korean men, especially the ajossis, are just so good at dancing! The oldest man there somehow moved me in a way that I ended up doing a little kick mid-air like a happy-go-lucky leprechaun! Only thing that bugged me was feeling all paparazzied out, I know I know..I sound paranoid. But there is a difference between onlookers who are curious and taking pictures, and then there are the creepy voyeurs that you know are there to get off on filming and taking pics of a bunch of girls. Anyways, we just had to ignore them and enjoy our night anyways.

We ended the night with some chicken and beer, and then strolled around until we found a love motel. We had this amazing poem written on the outside of the motel in front of ours. Oh Korea, and your little charms ^_^

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Outside our motel for the night

 

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Chica Vs. Food: Fermented Fish Guts

Jeotgal or jeot  (젓갈 or 젓is a salted fermented food in Korean cuisine. It is made with various seafood, such as shrimp, oysters, shellfish, fish, fish eggs, and fish intestines. Today I had a chance to try Changnanjeot (창란젓) – jeot made with pollock intestines, yum! 

 
Fermented Fish Guts:

Seollal in Busan

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We spend our Lunar New Year’s in Busan. Lovely lovely sea city. Here are pics from our trip.

  1. Jjimjilbang – Slept there for a night. Basically it’s a spa/bathhouse where people chill at. The floor was boiling hot. Not the best experience I had.
  2. Busan Tower – Lovely view, got to be part of some public art (video to follow) and went inside to the mini art gallery
  3. Jagalchi Fish Market – Had a freezing great time taking pics here. Unfortunately we were already full from our lunch so we didn’t have a chance to eat fresh fish. Oh well, till next time. 
  4. Norebang – Ended the night doing some karaoke. And ended up busting a bottle of wine. Eeek. No, we did not drink it haha. 

Busan here we come!

Mihwa, Yeon Jung, Jodi and I decided a break was needed so we booked a two day trip to Busan (부산), Korea’s second largest city. This is where the 2002 FIFA World Cup occurred. The best part about this big city is the beach, its nestled right next to it and has a large port that can get you to Japan in just a few hours. Sweeeet. On the map you’ll see that from Taegu (as Daegu is sometimes spelled) isn’t too far from Busan. It’s just a short 2 hours train ride there, if not less.

How do you compare Busan to Seoul? Well, I’ve come to conclude that Seoul is just plain overwhelming. I’m from NYC and still I find it to be a crazy city to be in mostly because of the language difference. They do sure beat us in train efficiency, cleanliness and clearcut maps and directions when you are there. Busan is smaller but still feels like a large city, having multiple downtown areas, unlike Daegu with its one main area.

Music by: The Donnas “Dancing with Myself”
The Dollyrots “Because I am Awesome”

Miwha and Yeon Jung both work for Kyobo Bookstore, kinda like a Barnes and Noble equivalent. Luckily, the store has a partnership with a hotel in Haeundae, the beach area near Busan so we got a discount when we booked it. Awesome!

Haeundae (해운대) is where one of the most popular beaches in Korea is. During the summer it is jammed packed, and the winter? Well, in the winter the Polar Bear Club, similar to the one in Coney Island in Brooklyn, makes a dash for the cold water on January 1st when the water is around 0°C.

Needless to say, here is a video from our stay at the hotel there: