By Kristen Bartus

K-pop music is having quite a moment in America. The beloved Korean pop group BTS brought down the house at the most recent Grammy Awards with their eye-popping, Bond-inspired performance. After the show, a line of A-list stars including Lady Gaga and Chrissy Teigen clamored for selfies with the group. A month later, the superstar band appeared at the White House with President Biden to speak out against anti-Asian racism. But K-pop goes beyond BTS and has been gaining popularity in the West for years. UO has had its own K-pop dance crew, K.Aire, since 2013. The UO crew had a big year, too, hosting its first annual Dance Showcase in spring 2022 to a packed audience of wildly enthusiastic K-pop fans.

K.Aire’s president, sophomore Holly Renshaw, understands why people are going crazy for K-pop. “I think people are drawn to K-pop because it truly is a whole performance,” she says. “The combination of music, dance, and the amazing visuals of the music videos, costumes, and stage performances mean that there is so much in K-pop to find enjoyment in.” K.Aire was started by a group of friends at UO who were passionate about K-pop music and dance and wanted an outlet for performing themselves. They usually hold rehearsals twice a week and perform at a variety of campus events. The crew also runs workshops and makes choreographed music videos on campus for their YouTube channel. Anybody is welcome to audition to be part of K.Aire.

“I’ll never forget attending my first K.Aire workshop and being able to dance in synchronization with a room full of strangers,” says sophomore vice president Ryan Walker, who previously only ever danced K-pop choreographies alone in her bedroom. “The ability to unite people is something very unique to K-pop.” And with K-pop artists that span styles from pop and hip-hop to rap and folk, “there’s a sound for everyone if you know where to look,” she adds. “The music and choreographies are catchy enough to have you singing or dancing along to a song in your head for months. Linguistic or geographical barriers rarely matter when it comes to music.”

K.Aire will continue to perform around campus and the Eugene community throughout the school year. The crew announces upcoming performances on their Instagram page (@k.aire).

Illustration by Dan Pegoda