The School Festival

Yesterday marked my school’s bi-annual festival, which meant a day off from classes for me. Avid readers of this blog will know that I had been slated to perform the ‘Gangnam Style’ dance routine alongside students and some other female teachers but, as is traditional in Korea, last minute decisions were made by the powers that be and I was informed the day before that I would no longer be taking part. I was confused and (obviously) a tad relieved to have been excused from doing the “heeeeey, sexy lady” dance in front of 900 teenage boys, but also oddly put out, as if I had been deemed not good enough to perform…and believe you me, if the slightly mental cleaning lady was good enough then so was I. My worries were unfounded however, as I discovered later in the day…but more on that shortly.

As my school is lacking in an appropriate venue, the festival was to be held at a Catholic High School about half an hour from my apartment. I found the place without issue, which impressed my co-teachers no end, even when I told them that I merely followed the hundreds of uniformed, festival-bound students I encountered in the subway station. Just like my colleagues that, awed beyond words that I can locate a clearly marked building with the aid of a map, written instructions, a smart phone and the world’s easiest game of Follow the Leader, but largely without comment when I manage to successfully teach 274 students every Thursday without breaking into tears, hives or a nosebleed.

The festival itself lasted for around 3 hours and was basically a talent show…although, admittedly, some of the acts were more about the show than the talent:


Some of them were genuinely good and I was happy to see some of my best students giving really impressive performances. Most of the acts focused on singing, playing musical instruments or dancing, my favourite of which consisted of a breakdance routine to an obviously un-vetted Run DMC track. I’d go as far to say that watching six clumsy Korean teenagers flail around a stage lavishly adorned with Catholic iconography whilst the ample sound system blared out “If you don’t like what me and my crew are doing them fuck you!” was a highlight of the day, without doubt.

Another highlight came with the performance of some of the young female teachers. I had previously been told about this by my co-teacher, who had informed me that they would have asked me to join had I not been too old to do so. For those of you blissfully unaware of K-Pop, they chose to recreate T-Ara’s ‘Roly Poly’ dance performance, complete with high school uniform, copycat moves to the absolute letter and the glazed, ‘dead behind the eyes’ look favoured by the band in the original video. Apparently they had hired a professional dance teacher in preparation, something that the Korean Run DMC definitely did not.


As someone who has seen Napolean Dynamite more times than is reasonable, I found particular joy in the first grader’s adorable ‘Happy Hands’ performance. The tiny boy in the middle is one of my favourites, partially because he wears a sweatervest and says ‘shit’ a lot, but also because he looks a bit like Penfold from Dangermouse and often spends entire classes pretending to be Wall-E.


Another performance had an entire third grade class performing an odd routine, led by their homeroom teacher and accompanied by the entire audience. Obviously I didn’t know the moves, so I sat quietly in my chair and pretended that I didn’t find it weird at all. I think maybe it was something about Korea being awesome? It usually is.


As I mentioned earlier, I had been unceremoniously booted out of the ‘Gangnam Style’ performance, and was curious to see why. As this particular performance rolled around, I realised that none of my fellow female dancers were preparing to take to the stage so I turned to the lady next to me (casually, as if I hadn’t been thinking about it for the past two days) and said “oh, are none of the female teachers taking part in the dance?”. “No” she said, “the boys think it is funny to dress as sexy ladies instead of us”.

The boys were not wrong about this.


And thus ends the tale of how I was bumped from a dance performance in favour of a 14 year old boy in a dress and an afro wig.


Re: The School Festival

That's one of the funniest blog posts I've read in a long time!!! I love your style of writing too... It's captivating!

Re: The School Festival

Thank you very much Jill, I read your blog too and really enjoy it! :-)

Re: The School Festival

EDIT: I later found out that the schoolwide dance routine is about Dokdo. Should've guessed, really.