I realized quickly into my professional life the importance of having hobbies. They undoubtedly keep you sane and give you a strong sense of purpose outside of work. Sadly, music – something that once occupied so much of my time – quickly began to dissipate after I dropped my trombone major in college.
Noticing that something I love so much was fading from my life, I decided to take up guitar to channel my musicianship in a new way (let’s be honest – trombone is not the most practical to play while living in small apartments).
Upon moving to Korea, I made it a strong priority to finally start taking guitar seriously. Not knowing what to expect here musically, what I soon discovered in Gwangju is something that far exceeded any of my expectations: ‘Dreamers’.
‘Dreamers’ is essentially a Gwangju-based arts/culture collective made up of Koreans and foreigners alike. The group truly lives up to its mission of ‘breaking the walls’ between cultures, as one can find people from all over the globe (Korea, Canada, Sri Lanka, Ireland…just to name a few) performing alongside each other every week at the Daein Night Market.
Daein is a traditional Korean market that springs to life each Saturday night with street food (food lovers, this place is heaven), local artists, fish shops, and an overall myriad of the beautiful Korean culture. Amongst all of this excitement is the Dreamers Open Space, an intimate performance area that radiates the bustling market streets with music each Saturday.
The Open Space is managed by Gwangju-native Tae-sang Park (below), the founder of Dreamers, whose warm/embracing nature has enabled him to cultivate this thriving community of local-based musicians, artists, and overall incredible people.
I met Tae-sang during my first few weeks and he immediately welcomed me with open arms. In Dreamers, I quickly found my comfort zone and a sense of belonging within this foreign city – one that not only gives me a platform to perform my music, but also a place to spend time with quality, uplifting people.
In only my second month in Korea, I was invited to Jeju Island (one of Korea’s most beautiful destinations) with the Dreamers crew to perform in a concert at a Buddhist temple. The people that I met there have become some of my closest friends in Gwangju and it’s pretty amazing to have a home every Saturday night performing alongside them.
As I continue to grow as both a person and a musician here in Korea, I’m so excited by the opportunities that Dreamers will present in the future. Until then, here’s to more great music, cold beer, and good times :).