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Korean Clubs in the USA

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Korean clubs are a special flavour of the traditional dance nightclub. They are quite popular with the Korean community (naturally) and most major American cities have a few of these clubs, also called K-Clubs; Los Angeles has three or four clubs, and New York has six or seven. Other major cities usually have a few less. Korean clubs were started in Korea, and they did not become much of a phenomenon in the USA until the mid-1980s. Also, interestingly, the exact location of Korean clubs within these cities seem to be hidden away and known only to the Korean community.

They work like this: a party of about eight reserves a table for the entire night, and they choose one of many tables that surrounds a dance floor. Once at the table, you are required to repeatedly order Crown and Coke, which costs about $200 a pop (seriously). A quick calculation will tell you that the clubs are operating at a 2,156,900% profit margin (not seriously, but close). The real headache comes when the bill arrives, and it's usually about $1000 for the table. All table members furiously run around trying to figure out who drank what percentage of which alcoholic beverage. This goes on until someone drops to the table and starts calculating integrals to ensure the appropriate payment based on body weight, moles of alcohol consumed, and the general amount of fun that was had.

Waiters, carrying flashlights and wearing red flashing buttons, are also called bookers. These bookers surreptitiously grab winsome Korean ladies and ferry them over to a table. The girls engage in conversation briefly before being whisked away to another table. This is a highly efficient means of meeting other potential mates. It beats the white clubs, where white people shift their weight nervously from one foot to another, trying to rouse the gumption to go talk to someone of the opposite sex.

The dance floor is always busy with various groups dancing to techno-house beats. All the songs sound like 90s techno-remixes of old Debbie Gibson and Kylie Minogue tunes. A collective cheer from the female half of the crowd greets each new song, as if it were as exciting as finally finding their lost Pokéman collection. Guys dance with groups of guys, and girls dance with groups of girls, and no one feels funny about it. Of course, some of the matched-up guys and gals dance together, but same-sex group dancing is generally accepted. If there is a stage, only girls are allowed to jump atop and swirl their bodies. Guys are not allowed on the stage, and white guys are asked to get down by security almost immediately.

Speaking of race, which is an unavoidable topic because the club proudly advertises itself as catering to Koreans, here are a few tips if you happen not to be Korean. Go with some Korean friends so that your presence will be more generally accepted, but it also has to be said that most Koreans are perfectly friendly to everyone they meet.

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