A bajillion fans. 29,348 steps. 12.59 miles. 7 idols. One concert. It can only mean one thing:
BTS is THE K-pop group, so of course I had to go see them in concert. Wouldn’t be responsible of me as a writer to do anything otherwise, right? Right. And it was 1000% worth every penny.
Don’t know who BTS is? It’s hard to describe this Korean pop group to people who are not fans, but the closest thing that I’ve been able to come up with is this: imagine seven good-looking guys with the popularity of the Beatles, the dance skills of Michael Jackson, and the voices of *insert favorite singer here.* That’s BTS (which is the abbreviation for Bangtan Boys). They’ve performed at the AMAs, been guests on multiple night shows, and have sold out show after sold-out show while managing to put out record after record AND film music videos and what’s basically a reality TV show of their adventures. Oh, and they just so happened to address the UN. So, ya know, there’s that too.
I mean, the fact that their fans are called ARMY pretty much says it all. And when I say ARMY, I mean ARMY; BTS has a fan base so big that every time tickets have gone on sale, the website servers have essentially crashed because of the sheer volume of people trying to access the site. Every. Single. Time.
And yet, by some miracle, I got tickets.
Well, technically, I wasn’t the one who got the tickets; that feat is thanks to a friend who has chosen the name Swag Master to be used whenever I refer to her. While I was at a writing conference trying to learn all things authorly (and yes, I did just make up that word), Swag Master was hunched over her computer, typing away like mad as she managed to snag tickets for us, an endeavor worthy of the many exclamation marks in the texts that were waiting for me when I got out of one of the breakout sessions. I remember doing a double-take at the messages, my mouth opening and closing in shock as I processed that fact that WE WERE GOING TO SEE BTS LIVE!!!! Forget being authorly, this called for some conference ditching and Korean food eating!
A round of applause for Swag Master, if you please.
Okay, so fast forward several months to this past weekend, specifically Saturday, which in my mind will forever be BTS Day. Since the performance was in Newark, NJ, Swag Master and I decided to spend the day in New York City. We were hoping to go to a store called the LINE FRIENDS store, which has tons of cute merchandise featuring the characters of this free texting app…and, of course, the new BTS line of goodies. A line of goodies that BTS ever so helpfully filmed looking at in a LINE FRIENDS store…so now the whole ARMY knows about it. And I think they were all there by the time we made it to the store. At first glance, it didn’t seem so bad. Sure, it was so crowded that you could barely move, forcing you to charge to any available space that magically appeared. But there was still stuff on the shelves. Only the line for the checkout wrapped aaaaaaallllll the way around the circumference of the store, so even if you did somehow find what you were looking for, you’d have to wait in line for literally hours before paying for it. So instead of spending money at the LINE store, Swag Master and I made our painstakingly slow escape and sought refuge across the street at the Disney Store, aka my home away from home.
After a very successful bout of shopping, I was ready. I’d already faced the crowds of the LINE store; bring on BTS!!!
All I can say is holy guacamole. These guys…and their singing…and their dancing…you know what? Google them. I didn’t record anything because I’m the goody two shoes in the crowd and took the warning of no photography to heart, but just about everyone else had their phones out and recorded everything.
They started with Idol, their latest release, the perfect song that had everyone screaming and jumping and screaming some more, and the crowd just got more excited over the next two hours. We were so excited that when they did the ‘last’ song of the night, we all flat out refused to move, waiting a good five minutes before the guys came back to perform three extra songs. They are just as charming in person as they are on camera, and you can tell how close they all are. And at the end of the show, each one took a turn telling everyone how grateful they are for the support and love that they have received from their fans, and can I just say that I loved how they bowed to the audience? Not one of those theatrical bows that we use at the end of a show, but a traditional Korean bow that shows how much they appreciate us.
And do you know how we showed how much we appreciated them? Besides the screaming, of course. Fun fact, many K-pop groups have a special light designed specifically for their fans, which can be synced up to be matched with the music’s tempo during the show. So they provide the music, the fans provide the light show. Here’s the BTS light stick, version 3:
And thank goodness I shelled out the almost $60 bucks for it, because I honestly wouldn’t have known what to do during the show. The line to buy one was long – but then again I’d come to expect that with anything even remotely associated with BTS- and at one point I overheard one man exclaim in bewilderment, “This is the line for the ball?!” But the minute my ARMY light stick glowed in time with the others I was so glad I’d bought it, and soon enough was waving it around as enthusiastically as the rest of ARMY.
Now, this was a fun trip, but at the same time I was mentally taking notes. One of my main characters is a K-pop star, so I’d be crazy not to. So although I may not have been jumping up and down like most of the others, it was only because there were about a thousand ideas running through my head. Well, that and my feet were killing me. 29,348 steps is no joke!
It took BTS forever to leave the stage, thanks to our impressive lung capacity and insistent waving of lights, but eventually they were gone, the lights were back on, and we were all shuffling out in dazed exhaustion/joy. We had seen BTS live! They weren’t just people on the computer screen – they were real people! We all trickled out to find restaurants to refuel and rehash ever single moment over a plate of fresh pizza. For the record, I had three slices. #noregrets
And that concludes my BTS adventure. Have any questions about it? Comment away! And tune in next Friday when I share just how I got the idea for Hart & Seoul, the first in a series of behind the scene info on the making of a novel…but first, there’s a slew of BTS videos that I need to watch. And gear to buy, preferably with sequins. Lots and lots of sequins!