Tales from a Crazed K-Pop Fan
See part 1 here
Chapter 1 Part 2
Suddenly a van drives by I recognize. Now, I may be a huge BAP fan now, but I must confess, the group that made me fall in love with K-pop was Super Junior. They will always have an honorary number one position in this fangirl’s heart. I’m not one of those fans that memorize the license plate numbers of celebrity vans, but Super Junior’s starcraft van is somewhat infamous. As I mentioned before, normally the very popular idols get driven all the way into the parking lot, so forgive my shock when not two feet away from me, the large black van rolls to a stop, engines growling and radiating gusts of warm air. I have just enough presence of mind to hold up my ipod and hit “record” as my absolute favorite member is the first to disembark.
My hands are shaking as I lower my camera, never mind that only weeks before I had decided I was officially done being a Super Junior fan after suffering at Inkigayo for their comeback. As I’m on the phone with my friend, who has just woken up from her nap, I see the second van filled with Super Junior members pull up. I film this as well, marveling at my luck of the morning, and urge my friend to abandon her post in the line and come join me.
The hours tick by as we wait for BAP to arrive, but at least we’re in the shade. We see half the members of Super Junior walk out the back gate to go to lunch, and I have to laugh at the irony of it all. I come here to see my rookie group, who by all accounts should be easy to see, and while I have yet to see a single blonde hair of Zelo’s head, I’ve managed to be within three feet of idols I assumed I’d never see off the stage. These were idols I’d only weeks ago decided to move on from.
It’s 1pm when BAP finally arrives. They walk down the sidewalk, not quite as casually as Wooyoung had five hours ago. They look a little wide eyed like they almost can’t believe that they are pop stars. They’re young and not entirely used to screaming fans. The 15-year-old, Zelo, towers above his groups mates, his blonde hair shining like a beacon, while Daehyun slouches through the crowd under a hood, and Youngjae follows with his manager’s arm protectively around his shoulders. The remaining three pull up closer to the gate, and when they walk through, the BAP fans actually break through the barrier into the previously blocked off part of the parking lot. I look on a bit despairingly have a feeling we’re going to feel the repercussions of that action later, as broadcasting companies don’t take kindly to fans breaking their rules.
I head back to the courtyard area to receive my number from the fanstaff, who have also arrived. For once I’d guessed right, and my friend and I are number 30 and 31 in line. I sigh, it’s probably too much to ask to get tickets for the live concert with these numbers. Probably, we’ll get to see the prerecording which is nice, but not as electric as the live performance. KBS is known for giving a limited number of fan tickets, so the most we could hope for were 20.
Our recording is at 2:30, and to my surprise it’s only half an hour behind schedule by the time they let us in. To my utter shock, they’ve completely changed the stage today. Music Bank is the one show without a standing room. But for today they built an elaborate stage with standing room built into two sections inside the stage, as well as areas for standing around the sides. I can only stare, flabbergasted. They lead us under the stage and into the standing section on stage left and I’m squealing on the inside. We watch a girl group’s prerecording first, which is fun, but then BAP comes out! I scream! And suddenly, the suffering of waking up at the first light of dawn, the sweating in the hot sun, the sitting on a curb for five hours…all disappears.
My boys get right into it. They greet the staff and fans in their customary salute, and then move into their places. There are a few false starts and Bang Yong Guk trails off his opening rap, grinning sheepishly, making the fans giggle. The first take goes well; I scream at least as loud as the rest of the fans, blowing my whistle at the appropriate moments, and shouting the prewritten fanchants with enthusiasm (to be a true fangirl, you’ve got to know all the chants). When the cameras stop rolling, the make up artists rush to the edge of the stage as the boys hurry to gulp down water, and have the sweat wicked from their faces. Himchan is quite literally dripping sweat even as the makeup girl pats his face with a paper towel and holds a small hand held fan to his face, and I have to wonder at anyone who isn’t impressed by how hard idols work.
They only need to go through the dance once more and the video producer decides he’s got what he needs. As the group sounds out their parting salute and leaves the studio, the members smile shyly at their screaming fans and wave. Youngjae reaches out and shakes a few hands before he’s shuffled off the stage.
We’re lead out and I can feel my heart rate starting to return to it’s natural pace. I’m completely content with today. I got to see my favorite group of all time up close, and I got to see my rookie group perform well on an entirely unexpected stage, I think I can mark today a success at this point. We exit the recording studio and amidst the group of 300 or so BAP fans now milling about in post recording giddiness, I hear, “BABYBUNDEUL! 150…” and then the screams around me drown out all other sounds. I can’t believe it. I hurriedly make my way to the nearest BAP fanstaff to confirm what I think I heard. One Hundred and Fifty BAP fans are getting into the live show. I cannot believe my luck for the day. There are some days where nothing goes quite right, and then there are days like today. Where everything goes more right than you could have even imagined.
We have some time to kill before we need to line up at 4:30 for the live show, which airs at 6:10, so we head to a nearby coffee shop to freshen up and get some sustenance. After my second bagel and coffee of the day I’m feeling good. I’m tired, I’m probably sunburned and look like a hot sweaty mess, but I’m getting in to the live show for Music Bank, so I’m feeling good.
When they finally let us in, it’s 5:45, we’re in the outer standing section this time, on the side of the stage closest to the MCs. It turns out the special stage is in honor of the Olympics. Never have I been so thankful for the event. I have a pretty decent view of the stage but about half way through it strikes me that if Super Junior wins, they’re probably going to be very interactive with the fans. I take the chance and give up my spot in the at the rail in order to get closer to the front stage, and I manage to score a spot right on the edge. I can’t see the main stage quite as well, but when Wooyoung comes out to the front and performs “Sexy Lady” five feet away from me, I can hardly complain. After a few more stages, and seeing a bit too much of Sistar’s underthings than I have any desire to see, the show is over. The artists are gathering on the stage to hear who has the top song of the week. It’s between PSY’s “Gangnam Style” and Super Junior’s “Sexy Free and Single.” I hold my breath. And it’s Super Junior. The screams of fangirls ring in my ears as the members of Super Junior graciously accept their trophy and flower bouquet. During their encore the boys run around stage shaking hands of fans and dancing with each other happily. I picked a bad day to quit Super Junior it seems, as both of my favorite members pour fanservice on my section.
By the time they let us out, I’m running purely on a K-pop high, I haven’t really slept in 30 some hours, and my hair is plastered to my sweaty forehead in a most unappealing way. But this has to have been the best music show experience to date. We think about staying to watch idols leave, but when we walk outside, there are thousands of fans lining the streets. We decide to pass on that experience today, and simply head home. On the subway my friend and I babble deliriously to each other about the events of today, when I get a call from my other group of friends, asking me to go to noraebang (Korean singing room). I probably should just go home and sleep seeing as I’m having trouble focusing on the subway map above my head, but I have never once turned down a noraebang invitation and I’m not about to start now. So to end my unexpectedly perfect music show day, I spend the next several hours singing my own versions of the songs I’d just watched be performed by the real singers, reliving the experiences. By the time I head home, it’s midnight and I take it as a sign that I need to sleep when the sentences I type in my attempt to write a fanaccount have literally turned into nonsense. I’m asleep before my head hits the pillow.