Where’s the weirdest place you’ve ever heard Gangnam Style ?

The release, or rather, the viral explosion of Kpop hero PSY’s new hit “Gangnam Style” was no small event, and I’m sure we all remember who first showed us the video on YouTube or the first time we heard it in a bar.

It was naturally very huge in Asia where people more regularly consume Korean music and that particular song was no exception, but I wonder if you can name the weirdest place you ever heard the song ? I’ll tell you three stories about the best or craziest places I ever heard that song.

The first, but by no means the least was in Saigon. I was DJ’ing during the afternoons and evenings at a local cafe in the tourist part of District 1. It had a name, but we only knew it as “Cafe 138” which was its street number. I had a few stacked into me and I was smoking a cigar when I put it on to “gee up” the local inhabitants, my friends Daniel from California and Khanh the bartender and a local couple we’d been hanging out with. When I put it on, we all went nuts, dancing like there was no tomorrow. I tried to make a video to capture the moment, and it did, if the moment was seen through a semi-blind alcoholic. It was a good moment though. I’m glad I got it on video.

The second was in Kuala Lumpur. I was in the market strip in Chinatown as I had a habit of visiting whenever I was in Malaysia. It was about 11 in the evening and very close to knock-off time. I had been chatting to a pirate DVD vendor from a nearby store called Roy and I’d just had dinner at a nearby Asian eatery and as I came back up the street to round the corner to my hotel in Petaling Street I saw this guy spruiking DVD’s. The song came on from the nearby shop’s outdoor speakers and pointing to this foreign woman walking up the street towards him, he started singing the “Hey…. Sexy Lady” chorus. I laughed and joined him, and within seconds, several other people in the street jumped in and started dancing and doing the whole crouching down and pointing thing as we walked down the street and we all sang together like some sort of un-planned flash-mob that only happens every now and again under the right circumstances.

But the weirdest time I ever heard Gangnam Style was in a place you would never expect. No one went nuts and no one danced, but it was a very strange and remote place to hear Korean Pop music reach. It was the public bar on the main street of the tiny silver mining town of Broken Hill in eastern Australia. I was in the middle of a cross-Australia journey doing over 6,000 km from the mid-west to the mid-east and on its way to Sydney, the Indian-Pacific stopped at this remote and almost forgotten mineral town in the mining-eroded city of Broken Hill for the first time in its daytime journey with the exception of Adelaide where it had been predictably raining for the whole stopover. I had a chance during this break to get off the train in semi-outback Australia and drop into a local pub. It was probably called The Grand Hotel or something, I don’t remember. What I do remember is a grumpy old woman with a blonde perm in rollers behind the bar and a young slaggy woman on the front bar alternately playing pokies, drinking her schooner of beer and bitching about the politics on the news. It was at that moment, in the near silence among the buzzing flies of the Australian outback that I heard a familiar sound and I turned to the company-provided video-jukebox nearby which was playing PSY’s world famous hit at low volume.

I was so surprised when I heard this song in such a remote and unusual place that I almost laughed out loud. It was this odd breath of familiarity in this world of outback “fair-dinkum” Australians and I relished it and hugged it to my heart and listened to every beat that it was on, even down quiet. I wished I could get up and put a dollar into the machine and play it loud but I knew the two women in the bar would lose their shit over anything other than Midnight Oil or Cold Chisel being put on the jukebox in the mid-afternoon. Still, it was a magic moment where Gangnam Style connected various points in my life and I was glad that some famous but down-to-earth Korean guy had opened the world’s eyes up to some Korean stuff and I’d been able to use that music to orient myself in life.


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