How I Became An Accidental J-POP Star For The Day
And let me tell you, I was feeling the fantasy.
I never thought I could be a performer, nor can (could) I really give speeches in front of crowds of people but you sometimes just have to take a leap and try the unknown.
But it was interesting to say the least—from rehearsals, to costumes, make-up, the whole experience was glamorous to... say the least. But it all started with a concept from the SF-based drag queen, Cash Monet. Being a competitor at this past J-POP Summit, Cash wanted to put together a team that could perform something high impact and leave the crowed stunned, gagging even. I was stoked. Though my performance career only really stems from colorguard and various K-POP classes, I was up for the challenge.
Our team consisted of Cash, Francesca, and Keeley (that make up the dancers from K-POP UP), as an attendee, I was approached about the opportunity to be the fourth. Performing the Japanese version of Blackpink's "Boombayah", for myself (who is physically out of shape) I needed to kick myself in the butt to show up (metaphorically.) Involving a lot of hand flailing, arm waving, and legs in all different directions—the goal was to be perfection. If you want an idea of what this dance looks like, check out the dance practice by the originals themselves.
Nervous to say the least, our goals were to get the entire dance down (in the edited form Cash provided) within two practice sessions. Hitting every point, practicing on our own, and refining moves that seemed difficult. The Blackpink girls have practiced this song day in and day out while we wanted to re-create that in two days. Our confidence was super pumped to rock this song out.
As our first practice came around, we laid out basic moves and formations. Discussing where we would move in the pack, how much arm distance we needed, and where to compromise where the dance couldn't. To re-work an entire set is difficult, I mean DIFFICULT. Cash was incredibly helpful with our small team to really turn the party. Of course, I was a little unsure of myself, the moves required years of physical endurance that I wasn't a holder of. Refinement was definitely our friend when it came down to it.
Mid way through our two practices, Cash got a request to do another performance pre-JPOP Summit, she asked our team if "we wanted to perform at Bootie (DNA Lounge)." Our team agreed and a somewhat practice run of the dance was put in place—it would be my first time performing in quite a while. The excited jitters had set in the entire week leading up the performance. Of course, I have video of the dance—below here:
And I'll admit, during this first run through, I completely forgot parts of the dance that seemed somewhat easy to me. The jitters of a crowd watching got the best of me and I naturally gave into my nervousness. And... can we also talk about that I danced this entire thing in overalls. The video doesn't catch it but my left button completely came undone and I was almost completely topless. Nailed it, Anthony. So that was my note for future performances: overalls aren't the best dancewear around... Clearly.
With one more practice date set up till J-POP Summit, it was go time to really get down the moves and finesse as much as possible. Our practice space was perfect—with a mirror readily available, we could see how we were doing because believe it or not, we hadn't performed in front of a mirror until then. But four people in one small dance studio, sweating is bound to happen (spoiler alert: it did.) But we practiced uniformly for two hour straight and felt confident enough to perform at the Summit.
Day Of J-POP Summit:
After working a full shift at the Third Culture Bakery Pop-Up (story coming soon), hair sweaty, physically deshovled, I had to pep talk myself on the bus. "You're about to perform for a small crowd, no worries, have fun, don't be scared, etc and so on"—I was getting amped taking the 47 up from Mission to Fort Mason.
As I approached the backstage area, I see my teammates setting their glitter makeup in place, I quickly tie my hair up and begin to figure out a look that's cohesive to theirs. And with no experience with doing eyeliner on myself, Francesca had the quick save in dotting out where to draw on my face (thanks Fran.) With a shit load of blush on, a run through of the dance moves in my head, I was excited to show out.
Yes, my top did say Bon Jour-courtesy of Cash Monet (meaning it's his.)
Moving forward, we're now waiting in line to get on stage, four other acts are in front of us ranging from kawaii J-POP to conceptual speaking pieces, there was a lot for the judges to digest. As we are about to go on, Cash huddles us together to give one last power group boost of confidence. "I'm so excited to be here with you all," he says to us gripping our palms tightly. As they call his name, we go on stage and get in place.
Picture this, thinking it's gonna be a couple of people no big (a small crowd if you will,) we're standing in front of a crowd of 100 people all screaming and cheering us on.
The nerves are on high alert now, no going back, I'm literally running the dance in my head from start to finish. But when all of a sudden, someone in the audience yells out of the blue, "BON JOUR!!!!!" I giggle under my breath and reset my silly thoughts to having plain fun. Who cares what the judges think, I'm really excited to perform Boombayah.
The first couple notes of the song came on over the loud speakers and the crowd bursted out in an excitement, waving their light sticks at us, and giving us so much of their energy. It was addictive. I definitely didn't want to disappoint.
Sadly, no video to speak of but the that happened post-performance was...
WE WON FIRST PLACE!
Well, it was Cash's win but we yelled, hollered, and screamed her name from backstage; "YASSSSSS CASH MONET, YASSSSSSS" could be heard over the judges congratulating her.
As we made our way on stage as well, we all hugged Cash in a group accomplished win. Hearing the crowd chant, "CASH MONET, CASH MONET" sincerely accomplished our goals. Leaving them gagging.