Saturday. D-Day. KCON Day 1. Whatever you want to call it, I woke up the next morning with a stomach full of butterflies, more nervous than I had ever been before in my entire life. Looking back, I’m not even sure why I was such a nervous wreck but I was. I think it had a lot to do with the fact that I had psyched myself out so much over KCON that I was afraid I was going to be disappointed at the end of it all. (Thank goodness I was totally wrong on that score!) Too nervous to eat, drink, or do pretty much anything else, I got up, donned my VIXX G.R.8.U. cosplay costume (with all the checkers) and spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to figure out what to do with my hair. (Which ended up being not much because my hands were too shaky to handle anything but the most basic tasks.) At least I wasn’t alone in my suffering, Tanya was every bit as jittery as I was and we were in such an awful state that we rushed out of the hotel without grabbing breakfast or (gasp!) even coffee. (A mistake we would come to regret all. day. long.)
For the trillionth time, running on East Coast time worked to our advantage as we were able to get to the Sports Arena, find a parking spot and be in line for guest check in by 7:30 am. (Which should give you an idea of how little we actually slept the night before.) As early as we were, I was amazed by the line of KCON attendees who were well on their way to circling the block. I have no idea how early some of them got there but it had to have been ridiculously early and for the first time that weekend, I felt what it really meant to be one of KCON’s “special guests”. I’m not gonna lie, being able to walk past the ever-growing line of KCONers and head straight to guest check-in made me feel so super special, like I was actually important or something. Ha! Of course once I got to the guest check-in, I still had to wait the two hours before they actually started checking panelists in but hey, at least I was inside the gates and I got to spend the time chatting with some of the amazing panelists KCON had lined up for the weekend.
With check in out of the way, it was time to get tickets and wristbands and scratchers squared away, which was in no way an easy task (and somehow Tanya and I were separated by about a zillion sections during both concerts because our tickets were so screwed up) but eventually things worked out and it was time to see if either of us were lucky enough to get into any of the artist engagements we’d been hoping for. (And yes, even as special guests we were subjected to the same torture with the scratchers as everyone else and which meant our chances of getting into anything were the same as every other person waiting in that ridiculously long line.) Of course it should come as no surprise that the only artist engagement I really wanted to be a part of was the one with VIXX and I’d spent a ridiculous amount of time fretting over the possibility of their engagement being scheduled during one of my panels, in which case, I would’ve been completely hosed. (See? Sometimes being a special guest isn’t really all that special…) I have to tell you, the nerves I felt as I scratched off those silly silver circles were REAL! I was shaking so bad, I almost couldn’t hold those silly little scratchers but I did eventually manage to scratch them all off and my inner fangirl wailed from the pain of a broken heart as VIXX was nowhere to be found in my stack of stupid scratchers. Yes, I wanted to cry but I didn’t, instead I turned to Tanya to see if she fared any better and wouldn’t you know it, she did!
Yes, Tanya possesses some sort of K-Pop voodoo that brings her good luck wherever she goes and I nearly died when VIXX showed up in her hand. It wasn’t a hi-touch or a fansign but it was still admission into their fan engagement and that was more than I’d gotten which meant I immediately begged Tanya to trade me for the IU and Teen Top engagements that were in my VIXX-less stack of scratchers. For one very long and painful moment Tanya held her VIXX pass in her hand and told me that if I could find her a pass to BTS, I could have VIXX and I kid you not, when she said that my heart shattered and I very nearly cried, despite the fact that I knew she was only saying that to mess with me. (Joking with a desperate fangirl who has had no coffee and very little sleep isn’t the best thing to do… Just FYI.) Of course Tanya then went on to trade me my passes for VIXX (which she wouldn’t have been able to use anyway, seeing as how her first panel was scheduled at the exact same time as VIXX’s fan engagement) and my inner fangirl squealed with glee as I headed for the line that would eventually take me to my beloved VIXX.
I have to say, being able to see VIXX in person was an absolute dream come true, even if I was forced to stand in the back, lost in a crowd of Starlights, without ever having even a hope of them catching a glimpse of me in my G.R.8.U. cosplay. (And yes, I really wanted them to see me, just so they knew there was at least one Starlight present who loved them enough to run around KCON in more checkers than a Nascar finish flag.) Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined the members of VIXX to be so ridiculously perfect but they are. All of them. They’re all so tall, so lovely and they know exactly how to make their fans happy, flashing smiles and nodding heads at exactly the right time. In short, they’re almost too perfect to be real but now that I’ve seen them in person, I know that they do, actually, exist and they are even more amazing in person than they are in all of the pictures and videos of them out there, combined. Seriously, if the world of Vampire Knight were real, VIXX would, without a doubt, be members of the Night Class. They’re just that perfect.
Sadly, the VIXX fan engagement ended way sooner than I wanted it to and before I knew it, they were gone and I was off to find my first panel. (No time to sob over VIXX when you’re about to speak in front of who knows how many people… I’m not a completely lost fangirl after all.) However, on my way from the VIXX engagement to my first panel, I did have to pass the Danny From L.A. taping and wouldn’t you know it, VIXX was getting ready to make their appearance! (What a coincidence!) I guess I’m at least slightly lucky because I did get to see VIXX run from their van to the tents that had been set up as their green room for taping, which was a lovely treat and a most excellent way to bolster morale as I set off for my first panel.
My first panel was “How to Hallyu Blog” and I have to say, with it being earlier in the day and in one of the crappiest locations ever (shoved behind a huge workshop tent, hidden from the entire world), attendance was slim. At least the people standing in line on the other side of the fence were able to hear us and who knows, maybe we inspired one of them to start writing… Ha! From there it was a mad dash to the other side of the convention grounds to speak on the “Beyond Almost Paradise: Into the K-Drama OST” panel and I have to say, that one was so much fun! We had a full tent, lively conversation and brilliant audience participation, all of which made being on that panel an absolute delight. Plus, as an added bonus, I got to be the lucky one sitting next to Hee Young, who is absolutely delightful! She really is so sweet and lovely and it was truly an honor to be on a panel with such a talented artist. (Hmmm… Maybe I have more luck than I realize…)
By the time my second panel was over, it was time to start lining up for that evening’s concert, which is exactly what I did. Saying my farewells to Tanya as she headed off to the Red Carpet Event (because, lucky punk, she managed to score a press pass to KCON and had a spot reserved just for her at Saturday’s Red Carpet), I set off for the ever-growing line (after grabbing a quick autograph from Hee Young, because why on Earth wouldn’t I?) and somehow, miraculously really, I managed to find Sue along the way. Knowing you don’t have to suffer hours of waiting alone is always a wonderful thing and waiting with Sue was so much fun as it gave us plenty of time to squee over the overabundance of VIXX pictures I was able to take earlier in the day.
As time passed and the hour of that evening’s concert grew nigh, the excitement in the crowd could literally be felt, like a great surge of electricity that literally exploded as the line finally started moving and people were allowed into the Sports Arena. Now I know that having a seated ticket myself, I didn’t have to suffer through the lines as I did but I couldn’t abandon Sue to the lines and hours of boredom and I was so exhausted by the end of the day, I didn’t mind the down-time. Standing around chatting with friends, new and old, is fun and even more so when you occasionally have people spot you in line and shout a cheery, “Hey! Zombie Mamma!” at you. (Yeah, it happened a couple of times that day and I have to admit, I felt special every single time so, to those of you who spotted me and said, “Hello!” I say, thank you! You totally made my day!) But I digress…
Once inside the Sports Arena, it was slightly chaotic, wending my way through the crowd, looking for my seat but nothing I couldn’t handle. I found my seat and was pleasantly surprised to find that I was in the second row from the front, and very near the “front” of the stage. (It’s really hard to call any part of a circular stage the front but I was near the end of the arena where most of the cameras were set up so, to me, that was the front.) As the Arena slowly filled with excited fans, I just sat there, soaking it all in. It’s not every day you get to join thousands of fellow Hallyu loving chingus in cheering on some of your favorite bands and I have to say, it was an experience I will never forget. Waiting for the concert to start, I got to spend time chatting with some of my fellow panelists who, amazingly enough, were seated all around me and I had a lot of fun talking about our day and all of the things we’d done. (It was nice to hear that I wasn’t the only one running around like a crazy person all day!)
Eventually the lights in the arena dimmed and the moment we’d all been anxiously waiting for finally arrived… The M! Countdown Concert, Night 1, began! I wish I could adequately describe the energy in the air as Lee Seung Gi took the stage, introducing the evening’s concert but sometimes words fail. Electric, exciting, pulsating, alive… The energy was so high, palpable even, and it was impossible to not be stirred by it. In fact, I found myself so caught up in it that when VIXX finally took to the stage, rising from its depths in turn, I’m absolutely certain my heart stopped. Oh! The rapture I felt as I watched VIXX perform was so beyond indescribable. I spent their entire set with a ginormous grin plastered on my face and tears in my eyes. Literally. There were tears. (I didn’t even know I could reach that level of fangirl but I now know that when it comes to VIXX, anything’s possible, especially when Leo’s dancing to “Light Up The Darkness” right. in. front. of. me. *Instant Death*)
While seeing VIXX perform was a dream come true, the night only got better from there as I got to see SO MANY of my beloved artists. IU took to the stage after VIXX and B1A4 soon followed and OH MY GOODNESS! Never in a thousand years could I have imagined that B1A4 was as adorable as they are! Ack! I thought I was going to die! I’ve always liked Baro (especially after his stellar performance in Reply 1994) and I’ve harbored a soft spot for Sandeul since they pulled that prank of him the last time they were in L.A., but I was totally unprepared for their overwhelming adorableness in person and I fell, head-over-heels, for them in a matter of seconds. Seriously. The boys of B1A4 are so darn cute, it’s impossible to not love them and I’m SO BEYOND HAPPY that they’re coming to Chicago in October! (And yes, I already have my ticket!)
After B1A4 was Teen Top and though I never really paid them an excessive amount of attention before KCON, you can bet your boots I’ll be paying attention now! Their performance that night was stellar and I was thoroughly impressed, especially with their dancing which was on point! Dang! They were good!
G-Dragon closed out the evening and I have to say, all of my love for G-Dragon came back in full force the second he made his entrance. OH MY GOSH! He is, without a doubt, one of the most incredible artists I have ever had the pleasure of seeing and I cannot believe I was lucky enough to be there that night. Ugh! I absolutely love GD, I always have, and Saturday night reminded me why he will always be at the top of my list of favorites. He is absolutely amazing and his performance was so good! SO GOOD! I don’t even know what else to say! (You know it has to be good when a blogger runs out of words… Ha!)
Writing this, I wish I could go back and relive the amazingness of that night a thousand times over (and take all of you with me) but alas, the only thing I can do is go back and watch all my fancams and feel my heart break as my feels get the better of me, over and over again. Honestly, the entire day was filled with experiences I will never forget and I feel so lucky that I got to be a part of something so incredibly amazing. But I’m rambling again so I’ll move on…
With GD’s set over, all of the evening’s artists joined him on-stage for a final farewell celebration and my heart swelled with joy that can only come from a night of K-Pop dreams come true and sadness as I had to say goodbye to my beloved artists (which I so did NOT want to do)! In all of the celebrating, I somehow managed to get a picture of both VIXX and GD in the same shot (with IU in the background) which pretty much sums up the epicness of the evening in one shot. Some things are just too amazing to believe and Saturday night’s concert was one of them. (Good thing I have the pictures and video to prove it was real! It’s really is still so much like a dream!)
After the concert I met up with Sue, her daughter, Tanya, Mr. Popo (who sat right next to me, btw) and others to squee over the evening. (Okay, so Mr. Popo and Tanya didn’t really squee but Sue, her daughter and I did which was totally understandable, seeing as how we’d just experienced the most amazing night of K-Pop in the history of the world!) Once the squeeing subsided it was time to say goodnight and go grab some food. (And if you’re keeping track, yes, this was the first time we ate all. day. long.) Headed for K-Town, we drove straight to Iota and got there almost too exhausted to eat. Still, I managed to scarf down a plate of incredibly delicious tuna nachos before falling into a coma. I really have no idea how we got ourselves from K-Town back to our hotel but miraculously we did and we immediately crashed. There are no words to describe the level of exhaustion I felt that day but I can tell you it was the closest to be a real zombie that I have ever come. Even so, it was totally worth it and I fell asleep looking forward to doing it all over again tomorrow.