Brewing into Seattle’s vast music scene is a small but powerful K-pop (Korean pop) fan base, united by niche and tight-knit communities. Part of this is THE COMPANY, a K-pop dance club based at the University of Washington and founded in 2017 by student Eric Tang.
A few weeks ago, when Tang, 20, learned that K-pop boy group ACE was coming to Seattle to perform at the Neptune Theater, he contacted mutual contact to see if the group would be interested in collaborating for one. Street show. .
K-pop performances are known to be neatly organized and managed, so that every detail is perfect, and because of this, fan interactions are quite limited. But busking is now part of ACE’s identity. Donghun, Jun, Wow, Kim Byeongkwan and Chan form the five-member group that officially debuted in 2017 under Beat Interactive. At first, they performed frequently in the streets of South Korea. The first performance they uploaded to YouTube, a dance choreographed to BTS songs “I Need You” and “Dope,” garnered over 5 million views.
ACE has since gained a global audience, but they bus regularly to connect with fans and stay true to their roots – they even wear the same school uniforms they wore when they first started out on the streets.
Even knowing this, Tang was surprised when the group came back to him and agreed to perform with his team of dance students in Red Square on the University of Washington campus the day before their scheduled performance on Wednesday night. at the Neptune Theater.
From then on, the event unfolded quickly.
With such short notice, some members of THE KOMPANY have had to cancel flights and are considering leaving UW for winter break. But for an opportunity of this caliber, it was worth it, they said.
ACE arrived in Seattle on Monday evening, eager to possibly see the first Starbucks, they said through a translator in an interview on Tuesday morning. Knowing that they have fans all over the world, including Seattle, “it’s like a dream,” Jun said.
Chan noted that it’s particularly cool To have seen their Seattle fan base grow since their last performance in Seattle in November 2018.
Tuesday afternoon in Red Square, ACE and the members of THE KOMPANY gathered to perform. The air was filled with excitement: it was a new experience for both groups – ACE had never performed with a fan group, and THE KOMPANY had never performed with a global K-pop group.
Tang said that due to time constraints, they hadn’t been able to practice their dance with ACE beforehand and just had to hope that their estimates on spacing came true.
Hundreds of fans came to the event and an estimated 18,000 more connected via a live broadcast on V Live. Many carried signs or wore costumes. Fan Annie Yoon wore a handmade orange costume, paying tribute to Chan, from Jeju, an island in South Korea known for his growth dekopon, a kind of tangerine. Yoon said that as an American of Korean descent, K-pop gave her another way to connect with her culture. The orange suit was a way to show she cares where ACE is from and to thank them for playing in Seattle.
THE KOMPANY started with a dance to the SuperM song “Jopping”, then performed to a mix of ACE songs. Even as a group of amateur dancers, the student dance group brought as much strength and precision as a professional group. Meanwhile, ACE stood in the back, watching with a big smile, bouncing to the music and clapping along with the crowd.
As ACE moved to the center to perform, they shook hands with the members of THE KOMPANY, and even the student dancers who had worn their fiercest faces seconds before immediately lost their temper, becoming dazzled fans.
ACE has danced to some of their biggest hits, “Under Cover” and “Do It Like Me”. They also sang English covers of “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X and “Someone You Loved” by Lewis Capaldi. They ended the event with a joint performance with THE KOMPANY, dancing to their song “Savage”. And somehow, although they had never worked together, the two groups seemed to dance together for years.
Then it was over. After taking a few photos with fans, ACE quickly left Red Square. They had enjoyed playing, they said, adding that they were in awe of THE KOMPANY’s performance.
Tang said he was just “relieved” that they passed the performance.
“It’s so surreal,” Tang said. “But still kind of like a dream come true.”
ACE, UNDER COVER: US ZONE; Wednesday, December 18, 7 p.m. $ 55 to $ 145; Neptune Theater, 1303 NE 45th St., Seattle; all ages; ticketmaster.com