My close friends, Buyeon and Anita, were heading to Ultra Music Festival Korea on June 10th, and since Buyeon had been itching to dance for ages, Anita adventure seemed like a fantastic scene for the two of them. I was a little sad not to be joining them, but, after an amazing day elsewhere, I was so glad events worked out that way. Here’s why.
I signed up to join The Seoul Expat Global Meetup Group hosted by Mr. Harry Yoon. The plan was to spend the afternoon eating, drinking and enjoying live music at the Latin American Festival. I had attended this same Latin festival a year prior with friends Dan and Sariska, so I knew that we’d have a great time, especially with the sun out.
I rendezvous with the meetup group at Hansung University Station. Harry quickly directed me to a group of expats nearby and soon, we all introduced ourselves. My friend Kate joined too, and I was particularly excited to hear about her recent adventures in Germany.
Seongbukcheon Fountain Square was filled with expats of all colours: blacks, whites, Latinos and many Koreans, including families. Our group began meandering together from tent to tent, checking out the food and beverages available at each one. There were tents from Spain, Guatemala, Peru, Mexico, Bolivia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Dominican Republic, Colombia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and other tents set up just for sangria and football fans.
I soon had a sangria in one hand, and a tapa sized paella in the other. The Spanish chef seemed to cook at least one huge saucepan of paella every hour.
After finding food, we hovered around a table with an umbrella to stay in the shade while we all got to know each other. Steven from the USA had lots to talk about and he was particularly engaging. Harry wanted to take lots of photos so we posed happily. I chatted with Ernesto who had a very interesting cultural heritage, and in some ways, reminded my of my own one. I also reconnected with Tasha who I had met on a previous Meetup event.
The Mexican and Brazilian tents always had massive lines ups. I later got a delicious pork (including chorizo) and vegetable sandwich, again from the Spanish tent, while Kate got skewered meat and a coffee from the Brazilian tent.
Kate and I soon wandered and found ourselves looking at pretty bracelets in the Peruvian tent. I picked out a bracelet to match my colourful Ragasthani bangles.
But the stage was equally distracting! The performances that really stood out were the Argentinian Tango, the “Spanish K-pop” student performance, and El Combo Sabroso band, which played many classics and got the crowd dancing.
Organizers cleared a dance space while El Combo Sabroso played. My new friends took to the dancefloor, particularly Ernesto who was very skilled at Latin dance. I hope to see El Combo Sabroso play in one of the local clubs in Seoul soon.
Daniel Baker‘s dance class was a riot. His energy on the stage was phenomenal, and he had people all over the square following his dance moves. Kate and I were trying to scope out tents for more food, but got stuck mid-way bouncing to Daniel’s moves cause we found it hard to tear away from his infectious energy! Check out Daniel’s page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/zumbaitaewon/
The venue had few chairs, so intermittently, we stopped to rest behind the tents which also offered shade from the sun.
Later that afternoon, the lingering members of Harry’s group found each other, and Ernesto swept me off my feet as we bounced to the blaring music. The atmosphere was exhiliarating. The tunes were fantastic, everyone had a sangria, tinto de verano or Brazilian coffee in their hand, while whiffs from nearby sizzling Mexican fajitas filled the air.
The food, music, sunshine, and mix of incredible people made for a delightful afternoon! I was so happy that the universe brought me to the Latin American Festival!
Soon, we all decided to visit the Philharmonic Orchestra concert organized at the Han river later that evening. But that is another story.
Latin American Festival: June 10th, 2017 (yearly event)
02860 2 Dongsomun-ro (Seongbukcheon Fountain Square), Seongbuk-gu, Seoul Travel there: Hansung University Station (line 4), exit 2
A big thank you goes out to Mr. Harry Yoon who provided many of the photos used here.
What do you enjoy most at cultural festivals?
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