I was standing in the best and the worst spot during the recent “One K in Manila” concert at the Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena.
It was the best because I was near the center of the stage, just three steps away from my Korean idols whenever they walked to the edge of the platform. It was the worst because there were a number of fans waiting to take over my spot. I could not move an inch for fear of being eased out of my place. I had no bathroom break for five hours straight.
At one point, a tall Korean woman suddenly stood behind me, whipped out a DSLR with a long lens and started clicking away. It didn’t bother me that her lens was right next to my cheek—but I was certainly surprised when she used my right shoulder as her tripod.
Placing her elbow on my shoulder, she pressed down hard to keep her camera steady. The bouncers told her to stop taking photos, but she ignored them. She was gone before other bouncers closed in on her. I assumed she’s a moderator of a fansite and that she had done this before.
From where I was standing, I was close enough to discover a trade secret of girl groups. Ace of Angels (AOA) sang and danced in white high heels that night. To prevent their shoes from flying to the crowd, the girls taped their feet to their shoes.
Being in such close confines with strangers meant you had to reserve your comments for later. I happened to repeat an anecdote I heard about which group had the better song, when I was nudged by a Shawol (a fan of the boy band SHINee) and told to stop talking. Respecting groups and their fans was the order of the day.
But I also found out about the generosity of K-Pop fans. While waiting for the Arena gates to open, the Shawol, Bana (B1A4 fans), Melody (BTOB fans), Boice (fans of CNBlue), Baby (official fan club of B.A.P) and Elvis (fans of AOA) formed small groups outside and gave out free wallet-sized photos and cutouts of their idols’ faces, banners and candies to anyone who wanted them.
There was no crowd surfing, but a lot of light sticks glowed that night. And having your favorite K-Pop singer look directly at you and wave made everything worthwhile.