Tag Archives: Seoul Searching

That Drum Machine Ain’t Got No Soul, and Seoul Ain’t Got No Style; Thoughts on Seoul’s Fashion Scene

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Fashion terrorists, the lot of them. They were all fashion terrorists…I was overwhelmingly told, often from people with little-to-no style, that I would be so bored in South Korea. Even at Seoul Fashion Week, I was assured I would be unbelievably and unforgivably bored.

Why?

Because, they’ve simply got no style.

I wasn’t sure how to take it, why was everyone so focused on reassuring me of my imminent boredom? Perhaps it’s because I can’t hide from my fashion persona. No matter who I met in South Korea, be they native, foreign or just passing through, made vocal assumptions about my having a fashion career. Clearly, I was one of those Fashion People. Clearly, I needed to be warned. Even some of the Korean locals I met asked me, in my professional opinion, if I thought all Koreans just tried to look the same? SeoulFashionWeekSS2017-Fashion-Needs-Jesus.gif

Even by the time Seoul Fashion Week rolled around, some of the international press (that stayed on the ground for approximately 1-2 days) made bold assumptions about how they lacked style and they have no subcultures, often comparing it to the nearby island nation which has made waves in the fashion industry (Japan, if you hadn’t caught my drift).

What was this all about? Here’s my response to the whole “They All Look Alike” Camp:

Plenty of foreigners come from countries and communities where “they all look alike too”, the difference being less noticeable because of physical differences in racial spectrum, not because the lot of them are actually dressing vastly differently. It’s that tribalism that we lean to as humans, in hyper-diverse cities, however, this tribalism may simply have more striking visual differences, but take out the varying racial features, plenty of people still look very much the same. People stick to their uniforms, whatever those uniforms may be. The Wall Streeters have their own uniform, sure one may have faded hair, one may have blonde straight hair, one may have brown wavy hair, but rest assured, there’s still a uniform that is relatively easy to spot. In other words, these self-appointed fashion critics are missing a lot of the bigger point, simply because they are looking at a more homogenous major city. Funny enough, many of these foreigners who were so quick to dismiss Seoul’s fashion, dressed eerily similar themselves, they just looked a tad bit more diverse.  *DRAMATIC EYEROLL* See?

“You are not special. You’re not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You’re the same decaying organic matter as everything else.”

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Le sigh.

Now that I’ve managed to insert an alarmingly accurate quote from one of my favorite books/films of all time, let’s look at some street fashion from the emerging Seoul scene, shall we? :

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@Apehouse

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@TheSeoulChild

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So, there you have it, ending with visions from the front row. The moral of the story, Seoul is still emerging and developing a sense of who it is in fashion, but it doesn’t mean fashion doesn’t exist there, there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye. See even more by following the story on Instagram: @FashionNeedsJesus

XoXo,

S.

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Seoul Fashion Week SS 2017, Street Style Photographers Capturing What I Wore

An ode to my OOTDs, as captured by some of the photographers at Seoul Fashion Week. I went to watch shows, and observe street style, but I, in turn, was being observed. While I have not found nearly all of the photos, here are a few, be sure to click the link to check out their Instagram accounts and websites for more Seoul Street Fashion! Also, don’t forget to follow my Insta!

Sphinx Rowe-Seoul Fashion Week Street Style photo by ullokorea.png
@UlloKorea
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@Younoblues
Sphinx Rowe-Seoul Fashion Week Street Style photo by pyh_23.png
@pyh_23
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Kim SeHun
Sphinx Rowe-Seoul Fashion Week Street Style photo by apehouse.png
@ApeHouse 
Sphinx Rowe-Seoul Fashion Week Street Style photo by hoon_andrea.png
@hoon_andrea

Sphinx Rowe-Seoul Fashion Week Street Style photo by jobless90.png

Sphinx Rowe-Seoul Fashion Week Street Style photo by muotstudio.png

Sphinx Rowe-Seoul Fashion Week Street Style photo by taetaehoho.png

Sphinx Rowe-Seoul Fashion Week Street Style photo by ww_prince.png
@ww_prince
Sphinx Rowe-Seoul Fashion Week Street Style photo by jihye_o3o.png
@Jihye_o3o
Sphinx Rowe-Seoul Fashion Week Street Style photo by je2difilm.png
@je2difilm
Sphinx Rowe- Seoul Fashion Week Street Style SS 2017 by pyh_23-1.png
@pyh_23
Sphinx Rowe-Seoul Fashion Week Street Style photo by oktop_j.png
@oktop_j
Sphinx Rowe-Seoul Fashion Week Street Style by kinnnnha.png
@kinnnnha

Sphinx Rowe-Seoul Fashion Week Street Style photo by dayju_1.png

Sphinx Rowe-Seoul Fashion Week Street Style photo by ske.jw.png
@ske.jw
Sphinx Rowe-Seoul Fashion Week Street Style photo by photographer_cherokee 2.png
@photographer_cherokee
Sphinx Rowe-Seoul Fashion Week Street Style photo by photographer_cherokee.png
@photographer_cherokee

Sphinx Rowe-Seoul Fashion Week Street Style photo by photo_kyj.png

Here. Now.

 

It’s officially been a week since I’ve moved to Seoul. A week and I’ve been calling a new place home. Fashion Week just occurred in NYC, but I’ve been focused on calling a new place home, and reflecting on what that means. I get the feeling that I’m finally becoming the woman I’ve always wanted to be. The woman, who is still rising despite the heartbreak and tragedy. The woman who fights, triumphs and throws a haughty laugh. The woman I was destined to be. Her. I think I’m finally becoming her. Free and bold, a woman who loves extravagantly and courageously in every aspect of life. seoul-tower-han-river

And, God, it feels so good.

In a week’s time, I managed to almost join a cult, I’ve went on a date with KDrama Guy who saved me from said aforementioned cult, hung out at Han River solo dolo amongst all the couples, I’ve agreed to record a music cover with my host, have another date lined up with a different guy, gotten lost countless times, learned how to speak some Mandarin while drinking with the roomies and talking about boys, spoken in Korean every single day, and tackled Dongdaemun, pushing and shoving with the thousands of people and vendors to get the swatches I need to design with.

I’ve actually unpacked my room and set it up nicely so I’m not living out of a suitcase, and realized just how much I’ve  committed to calling this place home for a spell. I never unpack if I don’t have to. Here, though, I did. Something about Seoul. Something about wanting to reset and refresh and explore the fullness of myself again, as a Creator, and as a woman. I look back at the things that interested me as a child, when we were free to think and dream, and as a teenager full of energy, and I’m going back to that child-like faith that anything could happen. Moreover, I’m seeing so many connections with present interests, and interests of my childhood.

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It’s strange to find myself back on a road that I’d abandoned over 10 years ago, but wholly exhilarating.

Yeah.

I’d rather be her.  Her, full of faith, her, the self-proclaimed jet-setting auntie who is gonna travel the world, her, the leader of a girl group, her, the fashion icon and mogul, her, the multi-linguist who strikes up conversations in different conversations at a moments notice, her, the model living in Tokyo, her, the story teller, her, one half of an eclectic, cool, and sexy power couple,  her, the musician turned actress, her, a representative of the people later in life,  her, the poet and novelist, her, the dancer who wanted to do a summer session with the Dance Theatre of Harlem, her, who was ready to drive across the country the day after graduation for an epic roadtrip, her, who had so many big dreams and hopes and a lot less fear.

Yeah, I’d rather be her.

XoXo,

S.

Follow the journey on Instagram, Facebook and Here!

To Seoul and Paris, with Love…

Namsan Tower, Seoul, Fashion Needs Jesus

If 7 is the number of completion, then 8 is the number of new beginnings. This 8th month of the year, this August, I saw the first anniversary of a year without my Mother. Undoubtedly the hardest year of my life. But this 8th month,  is the same month that I am flying halfway across the world to begin, again. I’m headed back to Seoul, this decision is less than 60 days old, and whole heartedly full of faith.

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The first time I went to Seoul, it was in desperate search of magic. The second time around, my trip to Seoul will be about restarting, resetting, and refreshing. I’ve been the better part of dead for a year. Bitter, broken, filled with despair…breathing but not living. That’s what I have been. There have been moments, where I got to feel alive. 강남 Gangnam Style, Fashion Needs JesusIn a year without my mother, I helped style Alicia Keys, have done several styling sessions, I’ve met and interviewed some dope designers, I’ve taken street style photos in another country,  I’ve started learning another language, I’ve left jobs that were too toxic, I learned to say no to things that didn’t suit or serve me, I’ve had a small community of incredible women surround me during my grief, and somewhere during this year of pain, I’ve still managed to smile and to laugh.

With grief comes catharsis. 

My catharsis left my creative soul questioning what was in my heart, and why I wasn’t following it? I know the dreams in my heart, dreams that were largely on hold as I grieved. I kept trying to make things work by my own hands, the normal way, the usual way, and it kept not “working”. At least, not “working” how I meant it to. But, when I stopped measuring myself against a standard that wasn’t native to me anyway, the corporate rather than the creative, I started to live again, and dare to make bold decisions

So that’s where we are. 57 days ago, I decided to give up my dope studio in Williamsburg that was killing me in rent, and had become a prison of my grief. 57 days ago, I decided Seoul Searching-Fashion Needs Jesus-NamSan Tower, South Korea.jpgsuddenly, and with encouragement from a bestie, to just follow what was in my heart. After a lil talk with Jesus, and a few months before the decision of pointed prayer and mediation, and the culmination of such emotions and faith made the decision easy. 57 days ago, I starting measuring myself against a standard all my own. 57 days ago, I decided to head back to Seoul.

So, who do you tell you’re moving overseas? Outside of my sisters, and the bestie that helped me make the decision, I told one person initially, Ariane, the designer for Yhaniqua Lopes. Well, interestingly, at the end of Spring, I met Ariane Fonseca at a #JustDoItCrew meeting(a bi-weekly event run by a mother-daughter duo from Hillsong NYC that helps you foster and follow your God-given dreams). She is this gorgeous woman, huge smile, doll-like eyes, and gorgeous Angolan accent. She was persistent about wanting to get to know me and work with me, she could tell I was in fashion and felt I had a beautiful spirit. I was super #TeamNONewFriends. I didn’t want to meet new people, and explain why I could possibly burst into tears at any given moment. But here she was, smiling. She eventually convinced me to style her line, and God did the rest. She was encouraging, warm, and immensely powerful. She’s gonna take the world by storm, no doubt about it. We talked about these foreign places where we felt a connection, for me, Seoul, for her, Paris, we talked about our singleness, we talked about our struggles in NYC, we talked about my grief, and we promised to meet up for coffee.

On July 30th, we did meet up. She was moving, and before she told me where she was moving to, I asked if she was moving to Paris. She sported a gorgeous smile, and said yes, by way of Miami first. I told her I was moving, and she asked without batting an eye, if I was moving to Seoul (a decision I made the day before). I told her yes, by way of New Jersey (but I’m staying with an awesome family in Brooklyn, another extension of God’s love!). We were finally leaving NYC, and as different women than we came. Zero plan, all faith, and a belief that this was what God put in our hearts. So, there we sat, in that coffee shop, encouraging each other for 2+ hours, while others might think we were crazy, already finding kindred spirit and feeling God’s presence.

Sphinx and Ariane Selfie

So, 27 days ago, I moved out of my studio, I was surrounded by beautiful people who poured into me, and helped me when I literally could not help myself. People who demonstrated what it meant to be the Body of Christ, and to pour into someone and love someone. Throughout this time, I’ve connected with beautiful people, woken up from my grief and started to feel alive again. 22 days ago, I mourned the year anniversary without my mom. 5 days from now, I’m flying to Seoul. Countless people have blessed me, told me I’ve inspired them, or both. Either way, I’m believing for great things, my creativity is resurfacing, and I’m becoming the woman I’ve always wanted to, a woman of relentless faith. I’ve meditated on God being able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all I have every hoped for wished for and imagined for. I’ve meditated on plumbing the depths and testing the heights of God’s love. That meditation and that prayer has given me the strength.

Reset. Refresh. Restore. 

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There is so much more to follow as the best is yet to come.

Follow the journey here, on Facebook, and Insta!

XoXo,

S

 

 

Seoul (서울)Searching: 5 Soulful Lessons I Learned While Traveling Alone

So, as you all know, I traveled to Seoul, South Korea a bit ago.

Alone.

Just me.

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And my bags. (but that’s a story for another day)

And I learned somethings taking my first international trip, alone at that, so I thought I’d share. Some lessons I learned from the situations and simply being there, others from friends. Either way here it goes:

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  1. “Slowly, slowly.”

My very first lesson came from an older man working at the airport when I arrived at Incheon. I was trying to get some T-Money to take the train to the Metro, and being the New Yorker that I am, I was rushing. For, like, no reason. I arrived mid-week, no one was behind me, and frankly, had I dropped a 50,000 KRW (오만원) for the sake of rushing, it would have a been a sad day. So the older gentleman walking me through the process kept telling me “Slowly, slowly”, to make sure I had everything, to make sure I put my money back in my wallet, and all that jazz. Even on vacay, I had forgotten to breathe. So remember, especially whilst traveling alone, you must look out for yourself. You could be fortunate and have a stranger look out for you, but even so, remember to take your time, take a breath, adjust to your surroundings and take care of what you need to take care of, even if there is a line forming behind you.

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   2.  It’s Ok to Ask for Help. Not only is it OK, it’s a Requirement. 

By now, I’m feeling fancy, I’ve gotten on the metro like the saavy New Yorker I am, and learned to slow down and collect myself. Fantastic. Now, what else was for me to learn? Well, after successfully switching from the local to the express line after a man watched me sit for far to long in my opinion, told whomever he was speaking on the phone with to hold on for a moment, and told me in exactly 3 words of English, “Go, across, go. Express across. Go.” I took his advice, and got off and hauled my luggage across the platform. So thank you kind sir. I couldn’t possibly need more help than that, right? Wrong. That man offered helped, I hadn’t asked, and in the wild, whilst traveling alone, you must learn to ask for help.

My AirBnB was a minute walk from the metro station. And that’s if I wasn’t walking like a New Yorker. Upon my arrival to said metro station, however, I found myself walking in circles. I found a Wi-Fi Spot, I called my sis over Wi-Fi and asked her to look up the address. She was finding a 15 minute walk. I didn’t understand what was happening. Then my sister had my phone turned on for texting, and wouldn’t you know it, I get a text from my AirBnB host saying she was worried, because she was expecting me, and I hadn’t arrived during my estimated time. I remember when she text me. I was crying in front of a Hana Bank 하나은항(don’t worry, this will come up again), while staring at this guy:

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Actor Kim SooHyun 김수현, who played Do Min Joon in My Love From Another Star (별에서 온 그대). Apparently he holds the record for most endorsements in a year cuz he’s totally adorbs. He was literally everywhere in Seoul. And there he was, in an ad in front of the Hana Bank I was crying in front of. Le sigh. I should have just asked for help earlier, because my host found me within minutes of me finding my way back to the metro station. My host must have seen the distress in my face, and swept me up in a big hug upon meeting me. She hauled my huge bag(against my protests) and walked me a minute to her lovely apartment. Lesson learned. Asking for help can save you an hour of your life and some tears.

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3. Identify Your Person

Why was the bank with the South Korean cutie, Kim SooHyun, oh so relevant? I’m getting to that. When traveling alone, you absolutely have to have someone who is, what we call in my family, Your Person. You know, that friend since the playpen, sister, cousin, play cousin, uncle, or whomever who is your absolute ride or die. If you called them from a prison in Mexico because of some plans gone astray during your travels, they’d be on the next flight. They would curse at you the entire drive back, but they’d come break you out, or work their diplomatic connections. I had a few people in the Travel Squad, but my main Person, that I called at all times while freaking out, was my twin. From giving me a pep talk at Seoul Fashion Week, to getting my phone turned on internationally at no extra cost to me, to wiring me money at, you guessed it, the same Hana Bank I was crying in front of the day before my return flight home, she was my absolute ride or die. Your Person will figure out a way to help you, even if it takes using Google Translate and some hand signs to do it. Your Person will encourage the spiritual journey that traveling alone can take you on, and do what ever they can to help you stay at peace, so you can, absolutely, make the most of your journey. 

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4. You will Cry, and it’s really OK. (진짜, 진짜~ 괜찮아!)

Traveling alone has it’s stresses. Even though plenty of people were super helpful, and I got to go on a date with a local, and I had incredible experiences, there is just something about traveling alone. I truly believe no matter what prompts you to travel alone, it’s an a act which ultimately awakens, heals, and nourishes your soul. For me, it’s been the ongoing struggle with the loss of my mother, and the desperate need for magic. Traveling, to the exact place my heart said to go, didn’t mean I wasn’t going to cry, it just meant I was going to cry and cleanse in the right place. You get to let it all out, pray, meditate, and just be in a place, simply being. I cannot tell you how nourishing it is for the soul, to just, cry.

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5. Answer to You. 

This life is ultimately between you and Source. The same goes for your planned or random vacation. The beauty of traveling alone is you don’t have to answer to anyone else’s itinerary or expectation. One of my friends in the Travel Squad, encouraged me over KaKaoTalk, and reminded me that this trip is just for me. I can do every touristy thing imaginable, or I can wander around aimlessly, as long as I was happy. I did way more of the latter. Praying, meditating, smiling at cute locals, and wandering. I got a greater local experience by doing that, and had more opportunities to practice the Korean I spent 3 months learning! This trip is for you, you will emerge stronger, braver, and wiser, so do whatever makes you happy.

I’m sure there are more lessons I learned while traveling alone, but I’m still discovering them, next I’ll post on my practical travel advice! What did you learn traveling alone? I’d love to hear from you!

Drink soju like a boss, dance til dawn in Hongdae, haggle over prices, wear sequins on a Tuesday, whatever, just do what you love. You betta werk! I’m rooting for you!

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XoXo,

S

 

 

 

Introducing: Fashion Needs Jesus, The Vlog! Seoul Fashion Week and Other Things…

 

Hello my loves,

I’ve decided since I’ve been crazy busy, but do want to continue offering you great content, to venture into the world of vlogging! Don’t worry, I’ll get back to writing great content too! In the meantime, check out the first vlog where I talk a bit about Seoul Fashion Week, the well dressed men walking around in Seoul and even the couple dressing! My travels were so inspiring that I’m eager to get back, but, I’m here for now. In the meantime, I’ll keep sharing photos of street style and updating both the blog and the new vlog and most importantly, I’m just going to have some fun!

XoXo,

-S

In These Streets: Seoul 서울 Street Style, That Special Kind of Cool

My heart was not prepared for eye lust my wanderlust would bring about while traveling to Seoul. I fell in love for so many reasons, and one of them easily being that Seoul fashion is, simply put, one of the world’s most beautiful lies. It thrives on expertly executed ease and youthful whimsy while maintaining a duality of utter sophistication.

I. Just. Can’t. Even.

Of course, it’s a major city, and a darling of Asia, so one might easily assume that it carries weight in the fashion world. Even so, assuming, and witnessing, are 2 completely different things. Let’s dig in, shall we?

 

CAN WE TALK ABOUT THE MEN?

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My bestie is convinced one of these gents is giving me “The Eyes”…

Because the men came to slay. While I did snap this at Seoul Fashion Week (서울 패션 위크), I would just see squads of men, dressed to kill on a daily basis.It was the norm, and not the exception, trust me. It made me remember why I am in love with menswear. If more men took the time to appreciate it on mass…I’d die a happy woman. Well dressed men. Just roaming in droves. Men unafraid of color, of slim fit, and of bold patterns. Men whose sole focus was not on their shoes matching their belts. Men who wore suits just to go out for dinner with friends. Men who looked sexy in pink, like, bite your bottom lip and cross your legs, and clutch your pearls levels of sexy…in pink.

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My. Heart.

#ICan’tEven.

#TheDream.

But, seriously, I’m pretty sure that so many stylish men travelled in packs as a result of

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Squad.

the school culture and mandatory military service. The minute you enter middle school(or for some, starting in elementary school), you’re in a uniform. Thus, time outside of that uniform is precious. I would surmise that in the midst of developing, growing, and nurturing friendships, style is simply one of those things that naturally fall in line.  After all, self expression is paramount to self development. If I have fewer opportunities to be expressive in the clothing that you wear, I could easily imagine being attracted to those whose style I admired. Scarcity breeds necessity, no? The result? Roves of men, uniform in their level of style, while still managing to be utterly individualistic. #swoon.

 

 

Next: Couple Dressing is a thing, like, a big THING.

I’m so used to seeing, unfortunately, so many couples whose aesthetics do not match. Thankfully, I live in New York City, and while I do see many well-dressed couples to swoon over, but I’m not sure we have the most aesthetically pleasing couples per capita. Frankly, Seoul couples looked stunning, and often wore articles of clothing that were the same. Seoul is crazy for kicks, but can you imagine seeing so many couples wearing the same pair? I lost count, but managed to snap this couple, whose style suited each other.

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Also, Heels For DAYS!

It didn’t matter how many women I saw doing the MyFeetHurt Shuffle, they were going to stomp the city of Seoul in their heels!

But, it also seems like the heels made in Korea, are way better suited for us city girls. They typically had a thicker and sturdier heel.  #Werk . Yes I drooled over the men, but the women also came dressed to slay!

So much more street style to report, but for now, enjoy some of what I found whilst wandering the streets of Seoul!

XoXo,

S

Seoul (서울) Searching: Dancing in Gangnam, and a date with a Korean Guy..

While in search for magic in the land of Seoul, I found myself out on a date. True story. When searching for magic, believe anything can happen, including a touch of romance.

So, my host and I found ourself out in Gangnam on a Friday night. I had fallen asleep and woke up around 9:30 PM, upset because, hello, it’s Friday and I’m in a posh Seoul neighborhood on the other side of the globe.

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Obviously, this needed to be rectified, but since I was on vacay mode, I had determined I would let it be. My host comes to the guest house and we chat for a bit, and she had to return some jeans. Yes, my 3 round date started with saying yes to walking with my host to return her torn denim. #AnythingCanHappen #AllYouGottaDoIsSayYes. So we stroll, and get to know each other more. I told her how I found myself in Seoul and she felt honored that she got to be a part of my healing process and search for magic.
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Then, we found out we both loved to dance. She said all her local (Korean) friends hate dancing. I suggested she get better friends. Dancing is life, if you ask me. Anyways, the streets are jam packed with everyone out and dolled up, so after her errand she popped into an Atrium, which is a make-up store similar to Sephora, and did a little make up and we headed out in the nabe.

putting on make up lipstick red gif-Fashion Needs Jesus blog.gifFirst we went to a booking club, where I had my first taste of soju. #Dangerous. Then we went to a club, and there it happened.

Somewhere between dancing the night away with my host-est with the most-est, and taking a breath of fresh air, he watched me dance for maybe a minute max, before pulling me close with the K-Drama arm tug and saying “I have to buy you a drink”.

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The K Drama wrist grab…Ok, it wasn’t this dramatic…

Then his friend found him with us, we drank together, and danced the night away. At one point he lifted me off the ground into the air while we were dancing. I almost got crowd surfed *clutches pearls*. They asked us to go to dinner so we made tentative plans to meet up a few days later. Now, I don’t know how your nights at clubs normally go, but I was pretty sure this double date thing was all buzzed banter and nothing would come of it.Club Mass-Gangnam 강남, 서울-Seoul, Fashion Needs Jesus.jpg

Alas, I was wrong. Our double date lasted 3 rounds, and it was really fun, actually the best date I’ve had in a long time. (do Korean boys do it better…or…?) So here’s to a night out with cute local with abs for days and a great smile.

 

If it happens to you, just #SayYes.

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Dance well. Get a date.

 

XoXo,

S