“Let’s go to The Pink Hole,” Lilo said.
“The Pink…what?” I felt confused.
“The Pink Hole, it’s a private gay club in Seoul.”
“The pink…hole? hahaha, oooh wow,” I thought that name was brilliant if you know what I mean.
I’ve been to a couple of gay clubs in Los Angeles and really enjoyed it; however, I’m one of those people who are “too nice” and have a hard time being straightforward sometimes – which can lead to some miscommunication, or signals if you will.
I’m also one of those who also causes people to misunderstood my expressions, because according to Lilo, I have pretty animated expressions. Despite the fact that some people go there just to have fun, I just didn’t want to crush someone’s hope (seeing their smiles turned into frowns) if they were expecting something more. Furthermore, the thought of paying $20 admission fee (although it did include a drink) was something that I would not prioritize to spend my money on.
Lilo read the hesitation on my face, “C’mon Stacey! For my early birthday, please?”
At that time, Lilo’s birthday was coming up in about two weeks.
“Okay, it will be fun!” I smiled at her and told myself not to worry so much. Just tell them that I’m flattered but I’m an straight ally, I told myself.
The Pink Hole (which allows FEMALES only) was really hidden so well in Hongdae, Seoul. Hidden so well that we got lost and couldn’t find it, so we had to look for it the next night.
South Korea is one of the countries that still do not really openly accept LGBTQ+ community; therefore, many gay Koreans face several challenges and need to hide who they are and do not have sufficient LGBTQ+ rights to protect them.
When I realized that The Pink Hole was actually located underground, to avoid from prying eyes, it saddened me that they need to hide who they are. Due to many circumstances, The Pink Hole have strict rules: filming is forbidden, even taking photos! They’ll kick you out if you do not follow the rules – which is why I didn’t post any pictures here.
As we went down the stairs, we felt the sudden vibration of music booming. There were some huge warning signs: NO PHOTO. NO FILM.
I felt my skin jumping off my body, it felt like boom-boom-boom as the music blasted as the multicolor party lights were flashing everywhere. I felt my chest vibrated along with the rhythm.
Even though we’re both Deaf, it wasn’t important that the songs were in Korean (or even in English for that matter!), or even not having the ability to hear or hear well as Hearing people.
What matters to the Deaf people is the beats, the rhythm.
We can feel the music.
It was a nice and good-vibe scenery inside that includes a bar, dance floor, and lounge. We noticed that they were all women, no men whatsoever. Many girls were dancing, chatting and drinking. They seemed very cheerful, happy to find a place where they can be themselves freely without judgment.
Few foreigners were spotted dancing with South Korean women. We went ahead to get our free drink (which tasted okay) and watched how people dance. We felt like a creep when we just danced away from the crowd.
One interesting thing we learned about Korean culture was that there was almost no sign of dirty dancing, such as dry humping and grinding. Out of all, I only saw one couple grinding up on each other. Almost all of them respected the space in between themselves and danced the night away.
Lilo and I then joined along dancing, perhaps looking completely like a fool. I jokily told her, “I hope I won’t pussy-block you, haha.” Lilo gave me an raised eyebrow as she nodded.
Eventually, a group of four Korean girls jumped at us, “hiiii!!!!” which startled us. With bright welcoming smiles, they waved “hello” with both of their hands. They danced with us as if we have been friends for a long time.
There were a couple of times when the girls talk in our ears. We gestured them that we can’t hear by crossing our arms into “X” and pointed our ears and waved “no” – but of course, that was a misunderstanding since the music was booming really loud. So, they spoke louder – yeah, that didn’t work either.
(note: even if the room is silence, many Deaf people still cannot hear and/or understand when Hearing people try to speak into our ears. And it considers to be quite rude too)
They kept talking into our ears, so we just nodded and smiled – not understanding what they were saying. We attempted to read their lips, but their lips are going up and down as they danced. Lilo and I looked at each other, wondering what they were saying. Was she flirting? Was it a question? What did they say?
“Do you have any idea what they were saying?” I signed to Lilo. She shook her head no and shrugged.
Eventually, I excused myself and signed “bathroom” to Lilo and headed upstair. While waiting in line, I saw a hand waving in my peripheral vision. I looked up and saw a woman in a black hat looking at me. Apparently, that woman was trying to call me, but I just didn’t hear her. She asked a question that was incomprehensible to me.
“Excuse me?” I softly asked.
I didn’t ask her again, but I figured she was trying to ask me where was I from since I noticed that was the most commonly first thing that local people asked me.
“Where am I from?” I asked awkwardly.
“Oh! America! California.”
“ooooooh.” she smiled at me. “Wha- (incomprehensible)?”
I attempted to read her lips, but I still couldn’t understand her. “Wh-what?” and shook my head.
“I’m Deaf. Can you please repeat that again?”
“Oh! I asked if -” then she stopped abruptly, her facial expression and body language suddenly changed – the gaze of her eyes changed. She became serious as her lips and body tighten, putting one of her hands in her pockets.
“What were you trying to say?” I asked, confused by her sudden change of expression and body language. I followed her gaze to my right and saw another girl (I’ll call her girl #2), right close to my face.
Taken by surprise of how close her face was, I stepped back. She was glaring at me, Um -okay? I guess she’s just drunk, I thought. Before I could read her expression, I looked away and asked the girl #1 again (“wh-what?”)
The girl #1 shook her head, never mind were written on her face. The moment they held hands to leave, that was when it hit me. ooooooh, I thought. So, that face of girl #2 was actually giving me an why-are-you-talking-to-my-girl attitude. I should have known but it was due to only staring back into girl #2’s eyes rather than reading her expression and body language. I laughed at myself how clueless I was. I explained to Lilo what happened when I went back to the dance floor, she laughed so much (“I wish I saw that!”).
There was another time that brought Lilo to tears and facepalmed: while dancing, I saw another Korean girl staring at me. I only saw her the bottom half of her face due to the light flashing her eyes, blinding everything except her mouth. When she was walking by, I only saw a bright smile, I smiled back. I saw her smile become wider and left.
Lilo nudged me in the shoulder, “Stacey!!” smiling as she gasped.
“What? What did I do?”
“She winked at you!”
“wait- what? She winked? I didn’t see that! The light blinded her eyes!”
“haha, oh man, you just gave the wrong signal!”
At the end of the night, the group of girls who waved with their both hands goodbye. One kept glaring at me, came up to me and suddenly kissed my cheek. As she stepped back, she looked at me, smiling. She waited for her kiss, so I returned her a kiss on her cheek which is something that I’m used to since it is a common social greeting in Mexican culture. As we left the club, we laughed about our experiences at The Pink Hole. That experience two years ago made me realize that I should relax and just be honest if necessary.
As we left the club, we laughed about our experiences at The Pink Hole.
I was really happy to see there were some places where South Koreans females can feel safe, connect with others and be themselves freely. That experience two years ago made me realize that I should relax and just be honest if necessary. This is a place that Lilo and I personally recommend if you’re looking for
This is a place that Lilo and I personally recommend if you’re looking for females-only club and/or LGBTQ+ club in South Korea.
Where did you have one of the most memorable or interesting experiences at the club/bar around the world?
The Pink Hole:
It is located underground to avoid from prying eyes, just right off Hapjeong Station, exit #3. Keep walking straight on Yanghwa-ro (street). On your right, you’ll see a small street called Yanghwa-ro 12-gil, go straight there.
This club is for women only!
Cost: $20 admission, including one drink.