The following feature is from Fan Mail—an editorial series produced in partnership with Vivid Seats that explores the relationship between superstar artists and their most passionate supporters. This next installment is a personal letter from a real fan to one of their favorite bands.
When LOONA came into my life, a butterfly effect was created in which I was able to cultivate an abundance of meaningful relationships in my life. The pandemic was rough having to self-isolate and continue working three full-time jobs as a social worker, grad student, and intern. On top of that, I was navigating the fallout of walking away from a physically and emotionally abusive relationship. Despite these difficulties, I knew I had a community of friends in NYC to hold me steady. And it was because of LOONA that we were able to meet, connect, and grow close—and that also includes my new partner.
I had been a big fan of Girls’ Generation in high school, but it was only after discovering LOONA that I did a deep dive into the K-pop industry. When my partner and I first met, I remember we were discussing K-pop for at least 15 minutes outside the Elsewhere staircase (a queer asian party called “Bubble T” was happening). Being able to connect on music is so special in a relationship, and my partner and I always say K-pop is one of our biggest shared interests. We recently celebrated our anniversary, and if I had never discovered LOONA to invigorate my love for K-pop, I don’t know where else we might be.
With my friends, we all had a deep investment in the group because they were doing something fun that we hadn’t seen before. LOONA built up over time and introduced a new member every month. Each girl had her own solo music video to introduce you to their vibe. Honestly, this was a big cultural moment for gays—when Kim Lip released “Eclipse,” it made big waves. Her more sensual concept was a shock to people that were already following the group because they were doing more innocent concepts until that point. That’s what hooked me, and I got all my friends into it. So every month, when a new girl came out, we would watch the debut videos together. And during lockdown, this meant online. As more of our friends on Discord began to move to NYC, LOONA was one of the first things we were able to meet on.
When I finally got to see LOONA live, I actually went with one of my best friends I had met on Discord. It was August 19th, LOONA’s New York stop at the Palladium in Times Square. I had seen them perform before online and on TV, yet I still didn’t know what to expect.
What I experienced was beyond special. Because the venue was smaller, we got to be closer to them. The energy of this crowd was different than I expected, too. It was more thoughtful and intentional. LOONA was very interactive with the fans in the audience, and they shared stories with the crowd between songs. In previous concerts I had seen on Twitter, sometimes the audience was too hyped and didn’t allow certain members the chance to speak, so I was a bit worried about going in. But in my experience, it felt like we as an audience knew it was only right to hold space for the members and truly engage. Looking around the crowd, there was a lot of love, joy, and respect in the room.
I remember making eye contact with some of the group at different points. When Yves saw me, she cocked her head to the side and smiled. I was just like, “Oh my God!” And then when JinSoul saw me, I blew her a kiss and she blew a kiss back. I geeked out and she started laughing at me. It was kind of embarrassing, but it was unforgettable to connect in person. It was just cool to have those small moments of connection to express gratitude to them for the friends I made and the community I felt.
One of the songs I was excited for was my favorite of the night: “Why not.” LOONA has a lot of songs that are very hype and performance-driven, but “Why Not” was perfect for a concert setting specifically. I’m a nightlife person, so it was a really fun song to groove to. “Hi High,” which they performed as an encore for the fans, was also fun. Those two songs just inject our brains with serotonin, so it was amazing to experience that energy in real life. I teared up a bit as the intro to the song started to play, thinking about all the memories I’ve cultivated with special people in my life—this song was a score to them.
The members of LOONA are really strong performers—you see that firsthand. Following them since the beginning, you can tell that they’re always trying to level up in the types of performances they can give, even playing with stage visuals, and what they can do within themselves. You can feel their thirst for that communicated through their performance, which was one of my favorite parts of seeing them live.
The night was a full circle moment. For me, LOONA has always been a figure of resilience. Like I said in the beginning, I’ve had to carry a lot in my twenties—working like crazy, navigating an abusive relationship, and even being sexually assaulted on top of that. There were many times where I felt like I was pushing myself beyond my capacity trying to keep moving forward. Watching LOONA, I can see how they also push themselves to work insanely hard as idols to ultimately be able to achieve their dreams of being able to sing and dance for a living. Regardless of whether it’s right or wrong that we’ve both had to work so hard and carry so much, I am very thankful to them for being people I can look to for reassurance. Their music and their energy is very healing in that way.
So with this opportunity, I just want to express my deepest thanks to LOONA. You give the world strength and you create opportunities for people to build love with one another. I know that’s true because that’s my own experience. Congratulations on everything you’ve accomplished. Your presence matters!
A very grateful fan,
P.S. I see you giving us your all, so I hope you’re given the chance to take some much deserved rest!
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