Chosun Weekly Checks Out Lesbian Clubs in HongdaeBy Nathan Schwartzman Jul 17, 2009 1:26PM UTC
One writer for the weekly magazine spent a night in the less well-known side of Hongdae.
Unlike gays, lesbians have not been publicly visible. Gays are known to gather mainly in Jongro3-ga and Itaewon, while the lesbian community has no famous spot. But upon hearing that near Hongdae Station there were four or five “lesbian-only clubs”, I went straight there to see for myself.
00:00 Over 100 Women… No Reservation, No Seat
Situated between some normal residences in Hongdae, P Hall draws the eye with its conspicuous pink sign. After you take the stairs down to the second floor and let the women employees check your ID card, a strip of pink paper is attached to your wrist. You’re in P Hall.
The cover fee for P Hall is W10,000. Usually you can get a reservation after 9 pm, and those who don’t stand around since there are no open seats. Those with reservations sit on three-person white fur sofas in the seven or eight “VIP Rooms”.
It’s past midnight but the 500㎡(150평) club was packed with about 100 women. In the middle of the club there was a dance stage, and on one side of the floor there were several mattresses scattered around as a white “bed”. On the bed six or seven women were lying down and flirting.
Everywhere there were people on the lookout for men. “So men are not allowed in?” I asked the permed owner, a woman in her mid-20s. “Of course not,” she replied. She was a “woman” in short hair and skinny jeans. Her shirt was one size too large, and there was no volume to her chest as if it had been compressed with bandages.
She said, “lesbians with short hair who take the man’s role are called ‘butch’.” Lesbians who taken woman’s role are called ‘femme’.
01:00 “Love at First Sight” Asked to Sit Together
One woman ordered a cola at the bar next to the stage and walked over. 160cm tall and wearing black horn-rimmed glasses, she was young with short hair. She introduced herself as 20-year old Kim, studying physical education at women’s university H. I gave her my phone number and went over to sit with four or five of her friends. Immediately I received a text message. She sent me five or six messages saying, “it’s love at first sight,” “do you have a lover?”, and “how do you feel about younger women?”
As soon as I went over to her seat her friends allowed me in. “Who are your friends here?” I asked. She laughed and said, “they’re all friends I met at lesbian internet clubs, but they all have girlfriends. Wouldn’t it be sad to live without a lover?”
02:00 Loud Music Draws Them In… Some Couples Head to Motels
As the singer launched into “Saturday Night” the women cheered. My eye was drawn to the couples dancing lasciviously. Like in any other club in Hongdae, one woman sat on another’s lap and whispered into her ear, another ran her hands over her partner’s whole body, and another held a beer bottle in one hand and ghad her other around her partner’s waist.
Cigarette smoke hung in the hair and I left the club. One couple next to me talked. “Well… wanna go?” “Yeah, let me get some cash. That motel doesn’t take credit cards.” They left the club and disappeared up the street.
Other couples leaned against the entrance, drunken and getting physical. One couple, who had been dancing furiously on stage 10 minutes before, was composed of a black woman and a Korean woman. They had their hands around each other’s waists and left after whispering passionately.
I asked Kim about one-night stands. She said, “just a minute ago some of my friends went to a motel together. It’s dirty, like having sex with a man.”
After leaving Kim I went back into the club. Another woman had arrived. 167cm tall and dressed casually, she was a prototypical beauty with crescent-moon eyes and rosy cheeks. She was a 24-year old nursing student named Goh who took me by the hand to the bathroom. Two of her friends came in. They all said, “you’re the prettiest one here!” “Notice that a minute ago everybody was only checking you out?”
03:00 “Do Your Parents Know? Mine Would Faint!”
Goh’s friends moved to their seats and had a drink before leaving. I went with them to M Bar, a lesbian-only bar. Located in a basement level, M Bar has a bar and 12 tables in a space that can accommodate 500. Though very late, it was still half full.
Goh, who wsaid she has an older sister and younger brother, said, “just my sister is straight, and me and my brother are gay.” I asked if her parents know she is a lesbian. She laughed and said, “if my mother knew she would faint. I just told them my sexual orientation by saying I’m not interested in marriage.”
Goh said, “the problem of life is living with someone you can be happy with, and being gay has nothing to do with it. Straight or gay, everyone goes through pain over it, so I don’t really think about it.”
04:00 Almost All Employees Are Women… In Daytime You Can Bring Gay Friends
I arrived at S Club, another lesbian-only club in Hongdae. Located in the first basement floor, on the last Saturday of each month patrons can bring their “gay” friends, and it is well known for this special night. I paid the W10,000 cover fee and went in, and the manager, a handsome woman in her 30s, greeted me with a smile.
I sat at the bar near a part-time worker, a woman with a white face and dyed-blonde permed hair. She said she was 20-year old Kim, and had been working there since February. She said, “I started working here after I saw an ad on a lesbian community internet site.”
She said she was actually bisexual. She first began wondering about her sexual orientation in high school. “When I was a second-year student in high school I met one of my younger girl classmates, and I asked her out and we dated for a year. But our homeroom teacher found out and threatened to tell our parents if we didn’t stop hanging together. My girlfriend was very upset and said we should break up.” After she graduated she dated a man. Now she has no partner.
05:20 Lesbian Employees Come and Go “Keep In Touch…”
It was 5 am and patrons were starting to leave the club. One customer in hr 20s asked an employee for her phone number, and the employee flirted, “come again and I’ll treat you nice.”
One employee with unusually large eyes and a vivacious personality left with this reporter. She asked for my phone number, saying “you don’t have to tell me your name or anything… I just like you. Come again and see me.”