This Thanksgiving break, I had the best opportunity to see BTS not once but twice. In October, BTS announced their Permission to Dance concert in LA for four dates. They were set to perform from Nov.27-28th and Dec. 1-2. This announcement comes after almost three years of the group being unable to perform live due to COVID-19.
BTS grew in popularity throughout the pandemic as they attracted new fans. Their songs “Dynamite,” “Butter,” and “Permission to Dance” broke records on the Billboards. They also broke a record when their song “Life Goes On” became the first Korean song to top Billboard’s Top 100. They recently received a second Grammy nomination for “Pop Group Performance.” As they lit up the Billboard charts, they showed that their music transcends language barriers.
I first encountered BTS in 2016 and became an army (BTS fan) in 2017. Since 2016, BTS have pushed against the odds to become the biggest group in the world. These seven boys from a small group became an inspiring and influential group. Their music touched people worldwide. While people still question their talent and popularity, it is evident that they’ll continue to be a prominent group.
Tickets for these four shows were released on multiple days. The fans who had tickets to their cancelled show got first priority, then official army membership holders, and finally a general sale. Within these few days, army members spent hours waiting and grabbing any ticket they could get a hold of. It didn’t matter what seat since any seat is a good seat at a BTS concert. This would be the first time the boys would see their fans in years, so I knew I had to try to get tickets. I had been upset when they cancelled their Map of the Soul Tour since I held onto those tickets for two years. Thankfully I was able to secure a ticket for day one. The day I grabbed that ticket was surreal. I was going to travel across the country for the first time to see a group I admired.
After a semester of downs, I was using this trip to heal mentally and physically. Music has always been a means of comfort for me, especially BTS Their music and messages resonated with me from the beginning and I knew I had to see them. I never thought I would be passionate enough about something to travel on my own, but for this group that has helped me through so much, I would do that and so much more.
On Thanksgiving Day, I took a flight from PHIL to LAX. This was my first flight and it was overwhelming. What comforted me was meeting many army members at the airport as they boarded the same flight. While K-pop has become mainstream, it still is something older fans are apprehensive about sharing, because unlike fans of Harry Styles or other artists, K-pop fans can be seen as “cringey.” However, this trip showed me how many BTS fans are starting to be more proud.
The first show was incredible. I sat in the 400s level of SoFi and the view was beautiful. I felt like I was engulfed by the sea of lightsticks. I felt at home with all the army who were there to support and be reunited with the group we love. The energy was electrifying as we all sang along and danced. The show was two hours long, but it passed in the blink of an eye. For a long time, I had felt this intense pressure on my chest. After the first show, I left without this feeling. I felt lighter. I knew I had to buy a ticket for the second show, which is a decision I will never regret. The second show was even better. Despite a sore throat from screaming the previous day, I cheered on. For their second show, BTS invited Megan Thee Stallion to perform their “Butter” remix. This was a pleasant surprise since they had been scheduled to perform together at the AMAs; however, Megan was unable to attend due to personal reasons. This show ended on a bittersweet note as they sang “Young Forever” and the iconic “Spring Day.” Their second show allowed me to let out all the hard feelings I had built up. I cried as their words hit close to home. I met amazing friends in California and I got to enjoy incredible moments. I was glad we were able to see BTS once again due to the heavy mask mandate and vaccination rules SoFi had in place. I hope we are able to keep these safety rules in place so that BTS can have permission to dance all over the world in a possible stadium tour.