Korea Celebrates The Roots Of House Music With Sensation’s Asia Debut


Become one of the white drops that make up ‘The Ocean of White'”

I arrive at Ilsan’s Kintex conference center to find literal and metaphoric significance in these words. The hassle of putting together an outfit white from head to toe (in addition, stylish, danceable, and conducive to Seoul’s humid summer months) is suddenly well worth the subtle yet powerful unity strewn amongst the masses. This isn’t an ordinary electronic dance music event. Each and every one is a spectacle to behold.

Sensation, an indoor event series that now takes place in more than 20 countries from its small beginnings in Amsterdam 12 years ago, hurriedly beckons me to squeeze my way into a comfortable place in the crowd. As always, Mr. White opens the show, and all of the “white drops,” hanging sea creatures, skimpily dressed entertainers, and majestic special effects are engulfed in a deep thumping bass line. We hear mostly deep house and tech house throughout the night, with a splash of more mainstream electro house between Nic Fanciulli and Fedde Le Grand. And this is all due to go on ’till six o’clock in the morning, when Seoul’s subway system will be up and running again.

I realize how different I feel here than I do at music festivals in the States. I see some 20,000 music enthusiasts and friends that have gathered in the outskirts of Seoul for the purpose of pure celebration. No one is vying for camera attention, no one aggressively pushing to get to the front of stage. In front of me are perfect embodiments of Mr. White’s simple message, “Let’s dance!” Koreans completely lost in the mesmerizing groove, moving their bodies the inexplicable way they do. They have completely surrendered physical control. Behind me, people have formed a circle, watching what looks like a foreigner pulling out moves I don’t recognize. Pretty soon people start taking turns in the spotlight, and with the drop, circle has caved in to form a mob of the most excited people in the room. To my left is the typical whistle guy, a staple at all Korean clubs and shows, blowing out a recognizable sequence to a reciprocating crowd. To my right, my friends soak in the vibes of the changing colors.

I look up at the jellyfish and let go every thought to the pulling, pulsing bass. I hope that one day I’ll be doing the same in Amsterdam.

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