By Rami Mansi
With dancers exuding their vibrant confidence as they grooved to the multifaceted rhythms of Korean pop music, a celebration of music and culture alike unfolded at Brooklyn College’s Korean Culture Club’s K-pop dance party on Thursday, Sept. 7. Attendees enjoyed songs, both classical and contemporary, with the atmosphere charged with positivity, camaraderie, and unabashed support for the daring souls who graced the dance floor.
With classics like “Gee” from SNSD, powerful anthems like “I Am The Best” by 2NE1, and relaxing bubblegum pop from “What Is Love?” by Twice, everyone had a song to connect to and feel empowered by.
Korean pop music, a cultural force since the late 1990s, has gained global recognition, notably through the meteoric rise of groups like BTS, BlackPink, and TWICE. Yet, it represents only a fraction of what KCC aspires to convey about Korean culture. Leveraging music as a starting point, the club seeks to educate newcomers about the multifaceted beauty not only of K-pop but also of Korean culture as a whole.
One individual instrumental in bringing this event to life and igniting the subsequent waves of joy is the club’s vice president, Anastasia Johnson. Currently a junior pursuing film production, Johnson’s immersion in Korean culture during her study abroad experience in South Korea in July inspired her to initiate change within BC. “After traveling abroad to South Korea this summer, I’d love for the Brooklyn College community to be able to learn more in-depth about the culture. It was very eye-opening to be able to go to the source,” Johnson said.
Reviving the club last fall with the assistance of the newly formed executive board, the team’s goal is to leave an indelible mark. Their mission strives to present Korean culture in a fresh and enlightening perspective, shedding light on often-overlooked traditions.
Club president and BC senior, Amanda Worthy, described Korean culture as “a beautiful culture that has so many more aspects than what the media shows […] if you don’t go out of your way to learn about it, you are not going to understand the beauty of it.”
In an environment where minority cultures can be marginalized and misconceptions persist, many look to honor and respect cultures and not contribute to “cultural appropriation.” Defined as people from outside a culture inappropriately using the culture’s practices and beliefs for their own benefit, it has the potential to harmfully impact a culture’s representation. Instead, those should look to immerse and learn from a new culture.
“You don’t have to be part of the culture to appreciate it. Immerse yourself rather than appropriate, and don’t hesitate to ask questions,” said Paula Chewy, a KCC board member and a senior at BC. This wisdom transcends cultural boundaries, emphasizing the importance of curiosity in fostering understanding.
The event’s goal of fostering companionship was vividly articulated by Johnson as wanting members both new and returning to come together to make friends and make memories that will be looked back at in nostalgia and positivity.
The highlight of the evening was a Korean dance challenge popularized by fans as a fun game. The “random dance challenge,” provided members with an opportunity to showcase their dance prowess and fill the room with laughter and dynamic energies. Attendees were encouraged to explore the essence of the club, create lasting memories, hit the dance floor, and dance some more.
The event attracted an eclectic mix of K-pop fans and dancers, with some dancing the night away to song after song, while others simply soaked in the vibes. The refreshment table featured Korean snacks like Gossomi (sweet and salty crackers) alongside the quintessential party favorite: pizza.
The leaders stuck to their word showing that you don’t need to appropriate a culture to appreciate it. By respecting the music, food, traditions, and games of Korean customs, this event proves to respect diverse cultures, you don’t need to take anything from them.
The question of what makes K-pop so special hung in the air. “The choreography and everything about it is genuinely unique and different,” said KCC member and BC senior Kierra Overbey. K-pop’s distinctive characteristics, including its infectious energy, choreography, and devoted fanbase, continue to captivate and retain enthusiasts.
As part of their ongoing efforts to highlight important Korean traditions and holidays, the club’s next event, scheduled for late September, will celebrate Chuseok, the Korean Thanksgiving.