K-pop fans ‘Dance the Night Away’ with TWICE

K-pop girl group TWICE played for a sold-out State Farm Arena on Feb. 24 as their debut in Atlanta. This tour marks the band’s first live performances since 2019. // Photo by Isa Cardona Student Publications

The State Farm Arena lit up in a dazzling display of pinks, greens and orange as fans wielded their lightsticks to support the K-pop group, TWICE. The sold-out show on Feb. 24 was the girl group’s first-ever performance in Atlanta, and they made an amazing city debut with a three-hour-long performance filled with their greatest hits, powerful choreography and love for their fans. 

Atlanta has seen a rise in K-pop concerts and events and has slowly become included among other major touring cities like Los Angeles and New York City. With this rise in interest and support for the music in the city, it makes sense that one of the most famous K-pop groups was able to completely sell out a 21,000 capacity arena. 

TWICE is made up of nine members — Nayeon, Jeongyeon, Momo, Sana, Jihyo, Mina, Dahyun, Chaeyoung and Tzuyu. They debuted in 2016 and since then have gained global recognition for their music and have gone on multiple tours. 

Their latest world tour, “III” is named after the relationship between the group’s members and their fans known collectively as ONCE. Jihyo, the leader of TWICE, explained during the concert that “ONCE plus TWICE equals three.” 

This tour is especially significant given that they are performing live in front of ONCEs for the first time since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The members repeatedly expressed their love and appreciation for their fans through their speeches during speaking sections, fan interactions and “heart missions,” where they flashed hearts to the crowd as they performed. 

The environment of K-pop concerts and other pop concerts, especially Western ones, is very different. It is completely normal to see fans waving lightsticks like TWICE’s Candybong, participating in random dance plays — where attendees gather and dance the choruses of popular K-pop songs — and exchanging handmade gifts called freebies.

K-pop has a way of bringing people from all walks of life together and the relationship between fans and the groups they support is a key characteristic of what makes the music genre so unique. 

Rachel Noh, fourth-year ID, is a longtime fan of the K-pop genre and has been listening to it for most of her life. She has been a fan of TWICE since their debut and enjoys their catchy music and dances.

“It always makes me feel happy,” Noh said. “I don’t ever feel sad or down when I listen to them.”

As a fan and someone who has attended multiple K-pop concerts, Noh says that there’s something unique about being a part of a K-pop fandom.

“It seems a lot more united in a way, and I don’t have an issue with approaching others or even starting a conversation with others,” she said. “I feel like at Western concerts, I wouldn’t really do that. Mainly because the fan culture is just a lot different.”

Noh is a member of GTSeoulstice, a K-pop dance group at Tech and the group showed their love for the group by performing a medley of their greatest hits before the show. Being able to see the original performers of the dances that GTSeoulstice learned was a surreal experience for Noh. 

“It was kinda crazy, because TWICE dances are super iconic, and regardless if you learn it, on a dance team or by yourself, it’s just fun to do,” Noh said. “And then when you see TWICE doing it you’re like, ‘oh my gosh, the actual people are doing in front of me.’” 

There are many stereotypes surrounding what K-pop fans act and look like, and oftentimes fans are generalized as only being young girls. However, after attending a K-pop concert, it is very evident that this is not the case. 

People of all ages, races and genders were present at the concert and it was truly a welcoming environment. 

There were typical jocks wearing shirts with slogans like “No Sana, No Life,” adults by themselves or with children, young adults dressed similarly to their favorite TWICE comeback era and plenty of other unique fans.

For anyone interested in getting into the world of K-pop but are hesitant, attending a K-pop concert just might be the push you need to fully dive in and perhaps you can see TWICE when they return. After a lengthy wait, TWICE’s Atlanta debut performance brought the energy and charisma that simply could not be kept behind a screen.