Booked

20 04 2011

What is it? Well, it’s a club; but different.

The booking club is a mysterious and alluring mistress. A uniquely Korean experience. Just two shots shy of a whore house: lost stumbling somewhere between the front porch and the sidewalk.

The space was a cosmopolitan: mixed alcohol, deep purple ambiance, shaken steady base, filled to the brim of debauchery. But the difference first struck me when I realized the immense spatial quality before me as I passed through the front doors. A single warehouse floor patterned in repeated table arrangements: booths of 4, 6, and 10. At least one hundred of them! So, we sat.

Now, I’m all for dinner theater, but this show was hardly something I could watch while eating spaghetti. Three shirtless men were Backstreet-ing all over the stage. They had obviously been practicing. And it wouldn’t have been so distracting except for the water they were pouring on each other. What was this? They weren’t bad; they could actually sing! And by all accounts I’ve never met a six-pack I didn’t like. So, with my vodka tonic, I relaxed into the precarious insanity surrounding me.

But it’s about when the waitress grabs your wrist and twists you out of your seat, leading you through the hue of smoke and twinkle that you realize: This is not normal. She sat me down at a booth big enough for ten, though my company was two men, and a table full of empty glasses.

The service men and woman at a booking club have two purposes: One, to provide hard necessary refreshment; and two, matching unacquainted males and females in a seemingly arbitrary way, but with a special mystic quality only the elders of such an establishment must possess. It seems random to an outsider, but they take their job seriously, and often base their judgments on the size of the man’s bulge-his wallet of course.

I was offered a drink by one of the men sitting at the table. At this point I had two options. I could refuse it, walk back to my table discreetly, concluding my dissatisfaction; or, I could accept the drink and dive head first into the unknown. I chose the latter. Apparently my Korean is exceptional after a few rounds of Chivas Regal, and the gentleman pouring my drinks, exercised his English with a vigor that allowed us to surpass the cultural barrier that divided us. Language was irrelevant. The laughter flowed as smooth as everything else around us.

The various stage productions throughout the evening had about as much continuity as a variety bit show off the strip in Vegas. Now featuring a striptease; beautiful Korean woman strutted their stuff to music I couldn’t understand. Though it begged to be answered, I no longer felt the need to ask: what the hell is going on? I knew somewhere between the shot glasses lined up on the table, the dance floor packed with people, and the exposed buttocks gyrating on stage, that this was something I would remember for the rest of my life; understanding it was unnecessary. Similarly, the look on my company’s face as he walked me to my cab, was also something I soon wouldn’t forget. His arms crossed in reproach, confusion, and something else I couldn’t quite make out in-between the proverbial booking code; or at least, I pretended not to. Because I assumed the end result of being booked was somewhere between a whore house and this guys apartment. I prefer to read alone.

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3 responses

20 04 2011
joe

😀 hillarious!

5 05 2011
Kevin

The booking club phenomena is something I have yet to experience.
Hopefully by the time I leave I would’ve gone at least once.
Interesting stuff, was it the Tunnel club by any chance?

14 05 2011
Audrey Quirk

Wow…….and by the way: your writing is amazing. Keep it up!

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