“Why are you listening to this if you don’t even speak Korean?” This is a common question to hear as a K-Pop fan living in the United States according to Monica Vega Rosada, president of Loyola’s K-Pop Dance Club.
“I don’t know Korean but I think that’s what makes it better, that I don’t understand it,” Rosada said. “You can disconnect from meaning. When I listen to it, I can vibrate without thinking of the lyrics.
K-Pop, also known as Korean Pop, has been around since the 1950s, but the genre first entered the North American mainstream with Psy’s 2012 hit “Gangnam Style,” which went viral. sold over 5 million copies in the United States according to the Recording Industry Association of America. Vox describes the South Korean genre as a “mixture of addictive melodies, artful choreography and production values”.
Rosada’s love for the genre started last year. She decided to share that love with the rest of the Loyola community by starting Loyola’s new K-Pop Dance Club. Rosada said she wanted to create a safe space for students to express their love for K-Pop and make friends.
She explained that the average person generally views K-pop fans as “weird,” which sounds “belittling.”
“I think it’s a stereotype that K-pop fans are seen as crazy and very protective of their artists,” Rosado said.
The club has been active with 15 members since October 2021, according to Rosada. They meet every Thursday night to learn K-pop dances. Of the 15 members, there are 5 dance leaders who learn dances from K-Pop groups, like Blackpink or BTS, and teach choreography to the rest of the class. The rest of the time, club members like to listen to their favorite songs and perform freely.
Although this club creates a space where students can have fun, choreography is a task that club members said they take very seriously.
“The choreography is no joke. It’s really difficult. We have people who are just starting to dance with people who have been dancing their whole lives,” said theater manager Sarah Schuler.
Schuler became interested in K-pop last year after playing the video game Just Dance with friends at Buddig Hall. She said she really enjoyed a Blackpink song about the video game and has been listening to the genre ever since.
“I’m still new to the world of K-pop. It’s a fun learning experience. I know everyone is really patient. I don’t learn the choreography easily, but they constantly rehearse it with me said Schuler.
The aspect of the club that most members said they are looking forward to is creating content for the club’s instagram, @kpop.loyno. The group members say they plan to use social media to attract more members while taking the opportunity to dress up as their favorite idols. The club also plans to set up digital productions inspired by K-Pop music videos and live performances.
Sean Kelly, a sophomore in computer information systems, said these performances and music videos set the genre apart from Western music.
“It’s not just singing, it’s a whole show with lights, sparks, smoke and fire. It’s a real achievement,” Kelly said.
Kelly describes himself as a “stan of K-Pop” for 7 years and said the club is something rare to find in New Orleans.
“I’m happy to have a professional space to dance and take the genre seriously,” Kelly said.
Students interested in joining are encouraged to visit the university’s club fair on February 22, where the club will deposit and recruit.