Bar Da [Hongdae, Seoul]
Bar Da in Hanguel is written 바다 [bada] which is the same word for “ocean”. This wordplay was the inspiration behind this hangout’s seaside tavern feel. It is dark, clustered and chaotic on the inside with tiny little windows looking out at the street below. One almost feels like you’re hanging out in the hull of a pirate ship. A narrow wooden staircase on the outside of the building leads to an upper level, but by the time we got there, there wasn’t even enough space for my tiny skinny Korean friend to put her foot down, so we scooched back down and the hiphop pirate barman directed us to a tiny table underneath a tiny light near the bar. The bar is decorated with tiny action figurines and has a small model of the bar complete with little lights sunken into the wall. We had cocktails and potato wedges for just over 10,000won which is cheap for any part of Korea, and at the very first sip of my Tequila sunrise, I could tell it was going to be a Tequila sunset for me. One would imagine the heavy handed barman winking at you after your eyes pop from the sudden shock. So much for avoiding the Long Island Ice Tea. Bar Da saved its won on fancy cocktail glasses and put a rope on the door of the loo as a handle. The inside reminded me of Diablos in Long street which upheld its working class theme right down to the barbed wire in the toilet seat.
This is the last place I would have ever chose to hang out in, but Jean dragged me here for a good time after shooting down my quieter cleaner and more intellectual choice which she said reminded her of a study hall. I am glad I went though. The music was good, though overpowering, and I was fascinated by the large sunglasses our barman wore and a bicycle and guitar with a story in the back of the tiny room. The place was packed and clearly seemed to enjoy the business of regulars. Besides, who wants to come to hippy artistic Hongdae and end up in some franchised three story coffee shop. The only thing missing was Tom Waits.