Here's What It's Like To Organize A K-Pop Fan Event In The Philippines

It can take months of planning and fundraising!
PHOTO: Courtesy of RIN/SJU PH

K-pop lovers, you've probably attended at least one fandom-organized event to let out your ~feels~ alongside fellow fans. Concerts can be pretty expensive, and isn't it fun to just chill, play games, and make new friends? A cup sleeve event is probably the most typical idol celebration within the K-pop community, but what exactly goes behind the planning and execution of it? Where do organizers collect funds, and how is it promoted?

We got to have a quick chat with members of the local K-pop community on how *exactly* one organizes a successful cup sleeve event. Read on if you feel like planning your own in the future!

Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Rin: My nickname is Rin. I'm 22 years old and I'm the head admin of Lucas Philippines and a member of ELFzen Events.

SJUPH: We are Super Junior United Philippines, or SJUPH, a non-profit, non-sectarian, and non-political fan club for the South Korean boy group, Super Junior.

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When did you become a fan of K-pop?

Rin: I got into K-pop in my first year of high school back in 2010. I got to know about Super Junior first when "Sorry, Sorry" and "Bonamana" were being played at my school fair. I got into other groups as well like 2PM, BIGBANG, SS501, SHINee, and TVXQ. I've been a fan of NCT since their 2014 SMRookies days, but I became a more active fan in 2016 when [sub-unit] NCT U debuted.

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SJUPH: Our fan club was founded on September 5, 2008. SJUPH was the unification of the country's four largest Super Junior fan clubs at that time, with the aim of uniting all Filipino Super Junior fans locally and abroad, as well as giving all our support to Super Junior.

What is a cup sleeve event? Could you describe what usually happens during one?

Rin: A cup sleeve event is a way for fans to celebrate the birthdays or accomplishments of their fave artists by having their faces printed on designed sleeves placed on drinks at selected cafe venues. A typical cup sleeve event consists of a group of people or a fanbase celebrating a certain event at a chosen cafe.

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The organizers prepare cup sleeves that they have designed for a certain artist, which are given to the cafe staff to distribute to attendees with every purchased drink. Organizers also come on the day of the event they're heading so they can interact with other fans and hand out special freebies. 

Cupsleeve designs to celebrate the birthday of NCT's Lucas! Rin
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SJUPH: A cup sleeve event is a common way for fans to celebrate the birthday or debut anniversary of their idol. These celebrations are usually held at coffee or milk tea shops. Fans who attend buy drinks and present their receipts to the cup sleeve event organizer in exchange for freebies. Typical freebies include a cup sleeve (of course), photocards, and bookmarks. Sometimes, organizers will do raffle draws for the attendees as well.

Have you organized fandom events other than cup sleeve events

SJUPH: SJUPH is the first individual fan club that organized a solo convention here in the Philippines. We also do charity work with our co-fans, PH ELFs, as volunteers. Plus, we've organized fan-themed gatherings like pajama parties and [an] amazing race, as well as album launches and regional film showings.

What do you love most about organizing and attending events like this?

Rin: I enjoy interacting with other fans. I'm an introvert, so getting to know people and learning the best way to observe them as I talk to them is very interesting to me. Plus, I get to make new friends!

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SJUPH: We love to see our co-PH ELFs happy and enjoying what we prepared for them.

How many cup sleeve events have you organized?

Rin: I have organized two events so far. My first event with ELFzen Events was Eminence, a cup sleeve event celebrating Super Junior Donghae and NCT 127 Yuta's birthdays in October. I also planned Maison des Jokers, a cup sleeve event slash photo exhibit by Lucas Philippines to celebrate WayV/NCT/SuperM Lucas's birthday last January. As for collaboration events, Lucas PH is affiliated with WayV Union PH so we've made WayV events such as Dream Launch celebrating WayV's first 100 days since debut, and The Spring Equinox, a cup sleeve event that celebrated WayV's first year anniversary.

Happy birthday Lucas, from PH NCT, WayV, and SuperM fans! Rin
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SJUPH: As of now, we have organized two cup sleeve events, including the Timeless event to celebrate Super Junior's 14th anniversary.

Happy 14th anniversary, Super Junior! SJUPH

How long does it usually take to prepare for cup sleeve and non-cup sleeve events? What are the challenges of organizing them?

Rin: It usually takes two months or more to prepare for a cup sleeve event depending on how elaborate you want it to be. It takes about three weeks to a month to settle designs for sleeves and other publicity material needed to promote your event. Online management of attendees will also be done if the event has an entrance fee or if a headcount for pre-registration is needed.

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As for non-cup sleeve events, it takes three months of planning to book a venue and select participating fanbases to help out with task labor, based on my prior experience with gatherings for NCT Philippines. The challenge of organizing an event is [trying to make] all plans fall into place. The expenses are financially-challenging because you need to spend more if you want your events to have more inclusions or [be] unique. Simply booking a venue for events is already expensive because of cafe rental fees and corkage fees if you want to bring in food to give away or to display a cake.

SJUPH: Ideally, for us fans who have day jobs, it takes two to three months of preparation for a cup sleeve event. For a non-cup sleeve event, for example, big gatherings like conventions, it usually takes six to eight months of planning.

How much does it cost to hold fan events? Who funds it? 

Rin: For simple cup sleeve events with no program, about P3,000 to P4,000 for all freebies, cup sleeve production expenses, and designs is enough. For bigger events or fan gatherings, P4,000 is not enough!

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For small events, funding is usually done by the hosts of the event. For big events hosted by fanbases, they usually get funds by organizing pre-ordered tickets for attendees or through fundraising. If urgent funds are needed, they ask for funding contributions from each staff member.

SJUPH: For a cup sleeve event, [it costs around] P8,000 to P10,000. We fund our own events. We get money from selling official merch, from fan donations, and sometimes funds from our own pockets.

Happy birthday to Super Junior Donghae, from your PH ELFISH fans! Rin
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How do you promote your events? 

Rin: We usually promote our events via official accounts on Twitter and Facebook. Posting on merchandise groups or fanbase groups on Facebook also helps.

SJUPH: We have Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts.

What's your advice to fans who want to organize their own cup sleeve events or other fandom-related events?

Rin: Take the opportunity to do so because the memories that events can give you are unforgettable. Aside from checking if you're financially capable of making your desired event happen, make sure to surround yourself with friends who are passionate and collaborative enough to help you make things successful.

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Organizing an event by yourself is possible, but getting people to help you is such a great feeling because you get to share your accomplishments with others. To fans who are members of fanbases, learn to make the staff in your fanbases your friends, or better yet, your family. Don't treat them as staff to boss around when you don't get what you want. Treating your co-staff members well strengthens their relationship with you and makes event planning less stressful.

The event organizing process will always be stressful because problems are inevitable, but if you get along with everyone, you will be able to solve problems together. Lastly, maintain good communication at all times, and make sure everyone stays informed. Stay transparent and most of all, treat everyone with the respect they deserve.

SJUPH: As long as you are happy in what you want to do, go for it!

The Manila chapter of "Timeless", a cupsleeve event celebrating Super Junior's 14th anniversary as a K-pop group! SJUPH
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*Answers have been edited for clarity.

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