Candida and Alice sit at a table in Canberra Dance Studio’s unremarkable foyer, welcoming latecomers to the K-Pop dance class.
The throb of punchy electronic pop music drifts out from the back of the hall; ‘Icy’ by the shiny new kids on the K-Pop block, ITZY.
Tonight, performance director, Harriet teaches the group of mixed-ability K-Pop dance enthusiasts a funky dance for the chorus of a recent K-pop hit. At the end of the hour, a club member films the finished performance and uploads it to the club’s social media channels.
The word K-Pop conjures up a vision of glossy music videos, a psychedelic-haired troop of entertainers singing and dancing an energetic hybrid of hip hop and street jazz in perfect sync.
However, K-Pop goes deeper than the music. This bright, bubbly genre has spawned a wave of unique pop culture that comes with its own lingo, clothing labels and makeup range.
While we wait to see the result of the hour’s practise, the girls chat about how they became part of the thriving ANU Korean Pop Culture Club (ANU K Pop Club).
The club’s founder moved to Canberra for university, hoping to connect with people over a shared love of K-Pop. She arrived to find only a basic Korean student society that didn’t engage foreigners in any events. To fill this gap, she created and launched a K-Pop club in 2015, and other K-Pop enthusiasts came out of the woodwork.
Candida, current club president, joined when she arrived at ANU three years ago with her friend Harriet. The two of them grew up dancing together in high school and that passion has continued at university, now channelled into K-Pop dancing.
Candida says, “Many of our members come from small towns where people don’t know about K-Pop or they just laugh at it. They look forward to coming to university, hoping that they can tap into the K-Pop culture there.”
Alice says that her love for K- Pop originally developed from a keen interest in law.
“I delved into anything related to law.” She laughs. “The K-Pop group EXO had four Chinese members and three of them were in a legal battle with their company. They were so talented and I wanted to know more. So, I followed the story and ended up getting drawn into other aspects of K- Pop culture.”
While many of the club members are ANU students, the club welcomes anyone, and at today’s dance class, most of the participants are non- ANU students.
Will has been a member since stopping past the club’s stall at ANU’s Orientation Week Market Day three years ago. “I enjoyed the first welcome party because I was brand new and I made several new friends there,” he says, adding that another favourite event was a particular dance class, when “they featured a song I really liked: Very Very Very, by IOI.”
If you love K-Pop culture but have two left feet, there are still plenty of events to keep you busy: The club advertises its many social events across its social media channels.
Keep an eye out for Monkey Bar’s next K-Night Out- featuring non-stop K-Pop. There are also cocktail parties, balls, and karaoke nights, or attend the regular Korean language classes to understand the K-Pop lyrics.
Even ANU Film Group recently collaborated with the ANU K Pop Club, screening a K-Pop film in their new cinema.
If dancing to K-Pop music is your thing and you need more of it, the club’s performance group, K-Rush is open to anyone. They practise full-length pieces and perform at multicultural events.
Here at the dance class, it is showtime! The high- energy group move with surprising fluidity and synchronicity, having learnt the dance in just 45 minutes. More than that, this community of K-Poppers are having fun, delighting in the music, the energy, and seeing a slick result at the end.
Dance class Details: The K-Pop dance class runs every Monday night during term times: 4:50 pm at Canberra Dance Studio.
Cost is $3 for club members and $5 for everyone else.
ANU Korean Pop Culture Club membership is $5 for ANU students and $7 for everyone else.
Flashing your membership card when you shop or buy food at one of the club’s sponsors will get you discounts.