Located quite close to Cocoon and Gogo's, Suzie Q isn't really visible from the street, except for a small door. But the moment you head down the stairs, admiring the decorative vinyl records lining the walls, and walk through the inner door, you know you're going to have a night that is, mercifully, sans-Gangnam Style.
Having discovered it the night before, we decided to take our whole rowdy group of waygooks to Suzie Q to soak in the atmosphere and have a bit of a sing-along. There were about fifteen of us, so we were looking for something that wasn't too crowded. We had also had two big nights, the second ending with the subway of shame home, so we wanted a light, relaxed evening to recover from it (well, we tried, but never mind that).
On our first visit we had a blast, mixing with a mostly waygook crowd (with some Korean hipsters) and singing and dancing the night away. The second night was a Sunday night. Notably more quiet, but there were enough of us to comfortably fill the bar, so fill it we did. We caught the DJ by surprise as he spun discs alone in an empty room, and he served us as well as playing the music. I'd taken a photo of the DJ the night before, and chatted to him a bit, and he remembered me, so he knocked a few thousand won off my bill, resulting in a free beer. He also milled around, chatting with us, and being generally friendly, but we could see he was taking strain without any other staff there to help him out. Eventually his wife left church early so she could come and run the bar - very generous of her.
|Kyu Nam Jo, DJ at Suzie Q, reads through requests for songs.|
With as much popcorn as we wanted, cheap beer, a long queue of good music and good times all round, the owner's wife told us the story of the DJ:
As one of the few DJs in Seoul who only plays from his personal collection, Kyu Nam is sitting on an absolute goldmine, and he knows it. But he's not interested in gold. He's been collecting albums since he was seventeen years old. Someone once offered him three million dollars for the collection, but Kyu Nam refused. He's more interested in running the music than running the bar, so his wife and other people do that while Kyu Nam just plays fantastic music.
|Name a song, and he probably has it. Typical bar snacks include peanuts, banana chips, biscuits, popcorn and pineapple. Omnom.|
He can locate any album within a few inches of a stack on the shelves.
|His collection is so big it doesn't fit in my photos.|
|A good place to unwind and hype up.|
Prices - Cass beer is W4000. Cocktails also available, although I didn't get a chance to try one.
Service - Like family, but nicer. English is not quite fluent but if you write what you want to say down, you're fine. Kyu Nam likes making friends, and mentioned a preference for British, Canadian and South African waygooks...
Decor - There's something interesting wherever you look, and I'd hate to spoil the surprises. An overall vintage charm. It reminded me of the radio cafe from Love Rain.
Vibe - Everyone walks in and goes 'Oh my god! This place is AMAZING!' That pretty much sums it up.
Music - Old school, any genre, your choice. Not much hip-hop. No K-pop. No Gangnam Style (so far).
Clientele - mostly foreigners, not many military blokes, some friendly locals with good taste in music.
Smokiness - smoking is allowed inside, but it was pretty well ventilated so it isn't too bad.
Bathroom facilities - located above the bar, and pretty intimate... Co-ed bathroom with girls having to go past the urinal to get to the squattie. Bring your own TP (throw it in the bin!) and work those thigh muscles.
For a good night try to get your friends to choose happy songs, not songs that make you want to kill yourself. Sing-alongs are a frequent occurrence, with things like Bohemian Rhapsody, Hotel California, and anything by the Beatles or Nirvana. Have a few drinks here, enjoy the music, and if you ever feel like leaving and want to dance, hit one of the nearby nightclubs later on. Good street food nearby too.
This bar is so awesome it more than makes up for the inability of foreigners to aim their pee properly at a squattie, so it gets 100% anyway.
|To get to Suzie Q walk from Hongik University’s main gate towards Sangsu Station. After passing Club Evans on the right side, Suzie Q is located down a nearby side street.|
I think the most interesting thing about Suzie Q is Kyu Nam Jo. To learn more about him, check out the Chincha article about John Weeke's documentary about him, here. They spelled his name differently in the article, but I asked him to write his name down for me and have spelled it as he did (surname first). Often Romanizations of Hangul are approximate, so both are right. Some other mistakes in my original post have been fixed. Directions were copy-pastaed from this Korea Times article.