Friday, May 11, 2012

Dancing Queens: Serendipity in Daegu

Last weekend, what started as a quest to visit Shannon in Daegu and for the both of us to hike Palgongsan, turned into singing ABBA's "Dancing Queen" on stage in front of hundreds. Part of being a foreigner in Korea means a whole lot of attention wherever you go. Often times you'll be the only foreigner (s) at an event, and therefore, given special opportunities to participate- or make a fool of yourself. The attention can be difficult if you enjoy a low-key existence, but if embraced, there are often positive outcomes.

Last year, I attended a basketball game and, out of the entire crowd, was chosen to participate in a dancing contest on the court. Of course I accepted and there were perks: free movie tickets. The last time I was at the "Save my Friend" campaign urging China to allow North Korean refugees into South Korea, I was called up to give an impromptu speech. The cause means a lot to me so I was glad to do it. And soon I'll have a surgery to fix the membrane of my ear. I want to have it done in Korea, but the waiting list for this sort of surgery can sometimes take up to half a year. I explained that I may not have that much time left in Korea and the doctor kindly made an exception, moving me up on the list and scheduling me within just two months. More than anything else gained from the extra attention are the hilarious stories to be told.

Shannon and I really wanted to hike Palgongsan, but Korea had something much different in store. We couldn't find the mountain nor the trail to the infamous Buddha we had hoped to see. Instead, we stumbled upon a cherry blossom festival where, ironically, there weren't any cherry blossoms. However, there was a stage, people singing karaoke/dancing and hundreds of people in the audience. We bought some makoli (rice alcohol) and plopped down in the sun. Some drunk, creepy men from across the way spotted us immediately and mistook our smiles for flirts. They continued to stare until eventually, too enthralled with the awesomeness of the performances, we forgot about them.

Suddenly, the MC looked our way and motioned for us to take the stage. Everyone in the audience was staring. Shannon and I looked at each other and, without really saying much, both knew for certain that we had no other choice but to go up.  Together and anywhere else, Shannon and I would generally choose a song from the 80's; by Will Smith, Hanson, or Prince; or really anything but ABBA's "Dancing Queen." But here in Korea, English songs that Koreans know are limited, so we knew what we had to do. We BS'ed the lyrics and danced our butts off. Shannon knew more of the words than me and I've got to give her credit for that. The crowd loved it. We have no video and no pictures of this experience, so you'll just have to believe me, but it was definitely hilarious and definitely something worth being proud of- not in terms of talent, but bravery.

The rest of our day was then planned out for us and almost completely free! We recieved free passes for the cable car up the mountain and passes for an almost free dinner. The funniest part: from that moment on, wherever we went, people recognized us, pointing and saying "Dancing Queen!?" We proudly rocked the title.

The stage pre-show

Kids were even participating!  

So it's not a hike, but hey, we still made it to the top of a mountain. 

Shannon goes weeeeeeee

Love locks are a common trend in Korea- apparently on mountains too. 

1 comment:

  1. hahaha we are BRAVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! SOo much fun! I am looking forward to so many more over the next 2 weeks! <3