Lets set the scene; the funky, buzzing and designer district of Sinchon in Seoul. Its 5.30pm on Saturday afternoon; Koreans are heading home from work, or sitting under gas heaters on the sidewalk keeping their toes from freezing in the harsh Korean winter, sipping cups of coffee, devouring galbi or just chatting with friends. Now throw in 300 drunk foreigners dressed as Santa marching down the street, beer in hand , singing dirty versions of traditional Christmas songs and you have yourself an eclectic mix of craziness.
This is exactly what happened last night as I experienced my 1st ever SANTACON (Santa Convention). Getting ready for a night out at 4pm is one thing…drinking wine from the bottle at the local train station dressed a s santa before the sun has even set…well thats a whole other kettle of fish! We got funny looks at the station, on the train, on the street, and everywhere in between. Obviously Koreans aren’t too familiar with seen people wandering around dressing as jolly Saint Nic 2 weeks before Christmas!
The first pub of the Santa March was the aptly named “Beer O Clock“. On arrival we couldn’t help bur laugh as we arrived into the bar to see over 100 foreigners, every last one of them in a full santa suit. We maneuvered our way through the sea of red to the bar and joined in the festivities. Half an hour later we the santacon was in full swing as we marched through the backstreets of Sinchon headed for Hongdae…The centre of Seouls nightlife.
Second stop was one of the legendary Ho bars (there are 10). The poor barman actually looked physically sick at the sight of us..there were over 300 of us..and only ONE barman. Some Santas headed upstairs to skip the queue while the ones that remained starting forming conga lines and creating the, soon to catch on, “Santa Dance!“ Others stepped outside and continued to drink on the street which ended up in an improv flash mob of santa dancing on the pedestrian crossing for 45 seconds every time the lights turned green!
Our next stop was the playground in Seoul where half the Santas too part in a Silent Disco. Despite it been as awesome as ever (it was the 3rd one I have attended in Seoul!), a group nearby called Soundbox, were really stealing the limelight. This arty all singing all dancing all performing group was probably one of the coolest and most entertaining things I have seen this far in Korea.
Sitting in a giant circle, mostly Koreans but with santa dotted everywhere too, we sang along to Stand By Me and Santa Clause id Coming to Town, cheered at a tap dancing dance-off, swit swooed at this rick chick-esque singer and wolf whistled as another guy leaded into the air and landed doing a perfect splits.
Our next stop was GoGos. Despite this not been on the official route on arrival we discovered, thanks to its popularity amoung foreigners, it was jammed full of Santas. Here we proceeded to dance on the tables to Christmas classics and well..the Spice Girls. Video to follow..! In between bars, everyone not dressed as Santa would look on in awe and crack santa jokes such as asking, “Hey Santa baby, wheres my present…“ or when i slipped on the ice on fell flat on my face two guys shouted out “SANTA DOWN, SANTA DOWN!“.
We finished off the night with giant cocktails in my all time favourite bar, Margarita Splash. As 4am came round, we decided to call it a night and put our Santa suits away for another year…or maybe for the 12 pubs of Christmas event next weekend…!