Do you know BTS?
My BTS journey is a relatively new one. I became a casual listener in early 2018, and then somewhere in between Tear and Answer comebacks I would say I took the plunge “down the rabbit hole”. Willingly. A completely conscious decision on my part. Mid master’s dissertation, I might add.
Initially, BTS offered me a much needed mental escape. If you’ve completed any sort of master’s program you’ll know it’s probably the most ridiculous decision you’ve ever made. So seeing as how I was questioning all the life choices that had let me to that point in time, I was needing a good dose of loving myself. How timely.
You see, loving myself has never come naturally to me (that’s a blog for another day). This is one of the reasons that their message resonated with me, and I know I’m not alone in that. So, when you combined the Blood Sweat & Tears music video with three beautiful, full-grown Korean men chanting “I love myself” in a notorious Cypher pt. 4 video (you know the one), I was pretty well sold on joining this “ARMY”.
From the get-go I just figured I’d never really get the chance to see them live. They were just starting a tour and I couldn’t make any of the dates due to timing, and for some reason it just seemed so out of reach. You should also know that I’m an avid concert goer, so I’m not sure why I felt this way about seeing the boys (not today, satan).
Flash forward to when Speak Yourself World Tour is announced, and I’m at a huge crossroads in my life! I’ve graduated with my masters, I’ve “temporarily” moved back to my hometown to save money, and I’m trying to find a job that has remotely anything to do with what I just spent the last nine years of my life studying! Sounds like a good time to drop a lot of money traveling to see BTS in Los Angeles, agreed? Good.
Boyz With Fun
Every ARMY I encountered: an instant friend.
Every member of BTS: my bias.
All the merch: mine.
Just kidding I was too poor for that by this time, but you get the point. But do you know what is no joke? Meeting up with *twitter friends* was honestly the second best part of the whole thing! The boys have to come first, I’m sure you understand. The incessant, giggly outbursts throughout the weekend was one of my all-time favorite things. It’s the sound of *twitter friends* meeting for the first time, and it made my heart burst. Thank you BTS, for helping us find friends for a lifetime.
Then, after four hours in the merch line (no regrets despite my sunburn) and meeting up with several of my newfound real life friends, we were down to the wire. 4H, row 10, seat 115. They’re playing music videos, and we’re chanting along like it’s the real damn thing! How could the energy possibly get any better than this?! How could we be any more excited?! The anticipation was killing me.
Then finally, there they were. And do you know how it felt? It didn’t feel new. It felt like a reunion, it felt like seeing an old friend, like putting on an old pair of jeans, or like catching up with someone you hadn’t seen in a long time. Why? Because BTS shares so much with us, because they really care about us. Because their music isn’t just about them, it’s about us too. And when you see them, and hear them, it feels like coming HOME. It’s a sense of familiarity and belonging, because BTS makes us feel like a family. Seeing BTS live felt so natural. I don’t know how else to describe it, honestly. It’s the pinnacle of the BTS experience, because that is how their music, their art and they themselves are meant to be experienced. In person.
Let’s start with Serendipity, shall we? Heads up, I’m a Yoongi/Jimin double bias and I can’t help it. So as you can imagine I was nowhere near prepared for Jimin’s stunning display. Vocally, emotionally, physically, choreographically. None of it, I was prepared for none of Serendipity. My video is actually quite embarrassing due to the involuntary sounds that escaped my lips. Jimin’s precision never ceases to amaze me, and I fell further in love with the song. And Park Jimin, of course.
Now, I’ve always enjoyed Euphoria, but live it had me absolutely ascending. Jungkook’s honest and authentic delivery of such emotional and powerful lyrics really touched me. I’ll never hear Euphoria in quite the same way. He was flying in a galaxy of ARMYs and I'll never forget it.
And let me tell you about Tear. I can’t actually listen to it very often, because it’s such an emotionally heavy song for me. So as you can imagine, the live performance was on a whole new level. Tear literally brought me to tears. There was a moment during one of Yoongi’s bits where it just hit me. There I was, listening to Yoongi in his element. The tears started to flow and I didn’t even try to stop them.
There was something special about every single song. They gave their all to every single count and note. For me, nothing will ever parallel hearing 60,000 people chant “you can’t stop me loving myself”. How much more empowering could these seven young men get?
Overall, they gave us an emotional performance. The highs and lows were beautifully delivered. It was fun, it was emotional, it was uplifting, it was healing. Because for a moment, we were all completely in unity and it is nothing short of remarkable.
I just want to say gahmsahhahmnida...
I was (and still am) torn between wanting to share all it all, and wanting to keep it all to myself. My videos, my moments, my experiences. My bangtan. Because everyone has their own unique experience with BTS, and that’s one of the reasons they’re so special. It’s one of the reasons we love them so much.
Now, the BTSxARMY bond is otherworldly, I swear. I have this imagined scenario I often ponder. Hear me out. In some alternate universe, 25 years from now, if any one of us saw any one of them anywhere, and just quietly said, “You don’t know me, but I’m Kadee, and I’m an ARMY.” They would hug you. They would love you instantly. Because you changed their lives and they changed yours. It’s the most bazaar and incredible thing, this journey of self love and self expression that BTS has invited each of us to embark on with them. And you can’t explain it to someone who hasn’t experienced it, but it’s there, and it’s real.
Part of seeing them live was difficult for me, because I wanted nothing more than to run up to them at full speed and hug them as tight as I possibly could (despite Yoongi's inevitable objections to my strong display of affection). To tell them how much they've changed my life, because THEY WERE RIGHT THERE IN FRONT OF ME! But I couldn't.
All I can do is write this blog, in hopes that I pass along some of the love, and *freeze frame* this moment in time to remember forever. I would also be completely capable of giving TEDtalks and penning entire essays (contact my agent for bookings - jokes). However, I will most definitely pen more than a handful of fan letters, that with any amount of luck, are read in some not so distant future, even if it is years from now.
My only wish is to express to them my gratitude and my appreciation for the life that they’ve chosen to share with us.
Saranghaeyo, bangtan sonyeondan.