So, you finally gave in.
You probably thought you would never succumb to the temptation of seeing your K-drama crush IRL. It is, after all, a clear indication that you have fallen way too deep into this hell hole of feels with no way out (#KinainNgSistema). In case you still have no idea what you've gotten yourself into, here's a short explanation of what you can look forward to on your first fan meeting.
A fan meeting is a little bit like our artista mall shows here in the Philippines—except it's a lot more expensive and often done in arenas and theaters. It's a short live show that gathers fans for an hour or so to meet their favorite K-drama actors and K-pop stars in the flesh. Expect fun games, performances, interview segments, and a whole lot of gushing!
Now, I know all of this sounds super exciting. I've been to a couple of fan meetings and, trust me, there is no way you can fully prepare yourself for all the feels. To help you assemble a sensible event bag, here's a checklist of things you'll need for your first-ever fan meeting:
Your Hard-Earned Ticket
The one thing you should never, ever forget is your ticket. Some venues provide physical tickets while others have e-tickets that you can easily pull up with your phone. Whatever the case may be, it'll be absolutely devastating to realize you don't have your ticket with you when you're already bursting with excitement at the gates. Besides, you probably had a hard time getting that ticket in the first place. It's no secret that tickets to K-pop and K-drama events sell in a flash.
Cash (Yes, There Will Me More Spending Involved)
Because venues often prohibit outside food and beverage, it's best to bring extra cash for when you get hungry or thirsty. Forget the urge to bring a tumbler or a bottle of water, they'll ask you to leave them at the gates anyway. You'll also see a lot of merchandise at the event—official and unofficial goods—and it will take a lot of willpower to avoid these things, so might as well buy a photo card or two as a souvenir. Promoters usually set up a pop-up merch booth at the venue in case you still don't have these next items...
Lightstick, Penlight, T-Shirt, And Other Fan Support Essentials
If you're not new to the K-fan life, you probably already know that a lightstick is a must-have at live events. For K-pop fan meets, there's usually an official lightstick designed for the whole fandom. Some K-drama actors like Park Bo Gum have lightsticks too, and if they don't, they usually have a specific color that fans can use to pattern their penlights and glow sticks on. Apart from that, you can also wear a customized shirt to show your support. If you're buying all these at the merch booth, make sure you come to the venue as early as you can because lightsticks and shirts sell out fast.
Professional stans know that these things require a lot of preparation. I suggest checking in with local fan clubs on Facebook and Twitter as most of them have information on lightsticks, provide banners for fan support, and even sell fan meet bundles with freebies! Remember: oversized items like LED and tarpaulin banners are often not allowed at venues so it's also best to ask your local promoter on the maximum size of banners you can bring if you want to do something special to show your support.
A Power Bank
Whether it's a theater or an arena, promoters for K-culture events do not allow professional digital cameras and video recording devices at the venue so you're going to have to rely on your smartphone for the rest of the event. Gimbals, tripods, selfie sticks, and other photography accessories aren't prohibited too, but as far as I know, they do allow Polaroid and still film cameras. Some promoters also ban items like audio recorders, and iPads, tablets, or any gadget bigger than seven inches as it'll obstruct the view of the people behind you. Do not forget to fully charge your power bank the night before the event! There is nothing more frustrating than using up all your battery while tweeting about your excitement, and then reaching for your power bank once you're running out of juice and realizing that it's empty just before the fan meet starts. It may or may not have happened to me several times. *shrugs*
Fan meets usually involve fewer artists—if not just one—which means you're going to see a whole lot of stage, and not a lot of action if you're sitting far away. Trust me on this, you're going to want to be closer to the stage. But if your budget is limited and you can't afford tickets in the #TalsikPawis zones (I feel you) then I highly suggest getting binoculars. These are particularly great for fan meets because you can focus on one moving subject and see better even from afar. Check out Shopee or Lazada for cute and cheap opera binoculars!
A Shred Of Dignity, A Dash Of Luck, And A Whole Lot Of Love
What really sets a fan meeting apart from a regular concert is that it usually involves a lot of fan interactions. You get a chance to see your favorite actor's aegyo moves just as much as you can—if you're lucky—stand on stage with them and actually shake their hand or give them a hug. There will be lots of cute and funny moments that will solidify the fact that yes, this perfect, poreless person is definitely a living, breathing human being. You will feel all the kilig you've stored up in your body while watching their videos, and you will be affected by the performances one way or another so let go of your inhibitions and scream if you want. Fan meetings are a bit more intimate than a super rehearsed show and for fans like us who wait a whole year or more to see these Korean stars up close and personal, it's definitely worth all the money and hype.
If there's one thing I'm most excited about going to these events, it's definitely the prospect of meeting fans like me. They're so full of passion and undeniable joy and it's infectious. Being inside the venue and seeing your favorite artist is one thing, but standing outside and seeing fans donning their beautiful smiles and meeting their online friends for the first time IRL is a whole new level of happiness! Some fans even print out their own little photo cards or make DIY souvenirs to give away to fellow fans—if that's not cute, then I don't know what is. Sure, seeing Jung Hae In, Park Hyung Sik, and GOT7 was exhilarating. Artists come to fan meetings because they want to see the people behind their follower counts and TV ratings. But the whole point of a fan meet is feeling and expressing this huge love you have inside you and sharing that to the world. So enjoy your first fan meeting, document everything and make every bit of happiness you get from it count!
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