Passions and ObsessionsVideo

BTS becomes my larger-than-life experience, as PH ARMY parties

The live SM Cinema screening gave a tantalizing taste of what an in-person concert feels like—Yoongi’s skinned elbow, Jin’s bicep, and all

The author's selfie with dancing ARMYs behind her

BTS dark cinema pulsates with ARMY bombs. (Photo by Tinkerbell Poblete)

The author (middle), fellow ARMYs Nikko Dizon of and her mom Lirio, at SM Aura Cinema in happy vibe after the concert

“If this is a preview of how a live BTS concert is going to be, I’m dedz.”

I posted that on Facebook as soon as I got home from the live screening of the BTS Permission to Dance–Seoul concert at SM Aura Cinemas 1 and 2 last Saturday, March 12.

SM Cinemas screened day 2 of the much-awaited three-night hometown series (March 10, 12, and 13) of the BTS concert Saturday, and after an initial rush for tickets when they were first made available, SM had the foresight to hold two screenings in hubs like Aura, so the cinemas were not alarmingly packed.

Even upon arriving at the Food Court area on SM Aura’s fourth floor, right outside the cinemas, one could feel the palpable air of anticipation and solidarity. I met up with some BTS Tita friends, many dressed for the occasion in ARMY shirts or outfits featuring their biases; my friend and contributor Nikko Dizon even brought along her mom. I myself was all set in a T-shirt with a caricature of Suga as Agust-D, plus a purple hoodie emblazoned with the picture of my favorite BTS member—and we were all masked.

Entrance was easy and uncomplicated, although they did ask for one’s vaccination card along with the ticket. (The longer line was for popcorn!) Inside the theater, ARMYs started turning on their ARMY bombs. The screen first showed the stadium in Seoul slowly filling up with people, although most sat in the center front, as the capacity had been limited to 15,000. Plus, it was funny seeing Seoul ARMY wave their wooden clappers, which looked like wooden paypay that made a sound like rushing water when sounded simultaneously, as screaming had been prohibited; security personnel roamed the concert grounds to ensure that rules were followed.

After seeing them on TV and computer screens, this time those familiar, well-loved smiles and handsome features were magnified for all to squeal over

The opening video spiel (and all later ones) were the same as in the LA edition of PTD, and ARMYs took advantage of that time to run for bathroom breaks. But even after having seen them several times, we all still screamed when the boys appeared on screen for the first time. The experience was multiplied; after seeing them on TV and computer screens, this time they were much larger than life, those familiar, well-loved smiles and handsome features magnified for all to squeal over. Also, the outfits were not quite the same as in LA; there were additional red pieces, including several puff jackets that looked quilted and textured. Jungkook went viral for his ensemble that included a vest and the jacket, plus a few chains and minus his eyebrow piercing, while V, who was in all-out little boy mode that day, complete with his now (in)famous “Tata Mic” face, was in what looked like a race car driver’s outfit that made him look mighty fine, of course.

In fact, that’s what Nikko and I were chatting about: the boys are undoubtedly men now. The styling has leveled up in terms of sophistication. The makeup is low-key, with none of the angry black eyeliner from their debut days. There was still jewelry, but again, you knew the stylist noonas chose carefully—and in j-hope’s case, with that big, shiny pendant hanging from his neck, you know this stuff was not cheap. When they did Black Swan in black outfits—Jimin made a brilliant recovery after slipping on stage, seamlessly weaving the fall into the choreography—the sensual, precise movements were very grown-up, indeed.

The boys started with a powerful salvo of high-energy songs—ON, Fire, Dope, and DNA—before changing outfits for the perfect segue between Blue and Grey and Black Swan. There was already a very slight drizzle, and you could see the audience wearing not just thick jackets, but even plastic raincoats. Yet, the boys seemed comfortable on their home turf, talking like buddies in between loud claps.

The PH theater crowd was out to party. Screams erupted when a bias was shown on screen, so you knew exactly where the V fans were sitting, for example. RM was the only one who revealed a new blond ’do, as the rest of the boys looked wonderful in their natural dark hair. They also recreated their “bus ride” around the stadium to get close to the polite fans, who did NOT scream, but sounded their clappers loudly. At SM theater, security people walked around to remind people not to stand or to refrain from taking video, but halfway through the screening, I think they gave up; ARMYs were shooting selfies, shooting scenes from the show, and filming the theater as people stood up and danced. I had a blast taking selfies with ARMY bombs all lit up behind me.

Particularly amusing were the squeals when Jimin and Jungkook expectedly showed some skin in their black outfits, but the crowd went nuts when Jin did a “Jimin” and threw his jacket off one shoulder, revealing a flash of muscled bicep and his armpit in a muscle shirt. “All because of a kili-kili!” Nikko and I screamed.

They did away with the bed rolling in Life Goes On (which I didn’t mind), opting to walk simply in some gorgeous printed jackets (still waiting for word on who they wore); again, V, the scene-stealer, wore an overskirt, and j-hope pulled off a tropical Igorot-meets-Rastafarian look that would have looked ridiculous on a lesser fashion plate. RM was in red shorts; how’s THAT for having fun?

Yoongi had his own little fall, showed off a skinned elbow to prove the point, startlingly visible against his milky-white skin

For the last segment, Jin came out wearing a huge beehive-shaped RJ bonnet, topped by what looked like a tiny Koya, tied around his chin, which he proceeded to wave in his members’ faces; imagine RM trying to rap with Koya under his nose. While JK hugged Suga during a rap and V attempted a failed cartwheel on day 1, this time V mischievously pushed his Suga-hyung’s head down while the latter rapped. In fact, Yoongi also had his own little fall, and he showed off a skinned elbow to prove the point, startlingly visible against his milky-white skin

What got the audience on its feet were retro renditions of Anpanman and Go Go, which were so full of contagious energy. Jimin, who had both COVID-19 and an appendectomy in January, obviously held back in the freestyle moments, where the rest of the guys were jumping like jellybeans. But he was all in during the group choreography, which was particularly wonderful in the dance break transition between Dynamite and Butter.

Hobi also looked particularly upbeat, and even plopped on the floor, bouncing as he drove a virtual car, in the middle of Anpanman.

What was touching was how they just kept going even when the rain was coming down

What was touching, however, was how they just kept going even when the rain was coming down in sheets so visible, you could see it against the stage lights. Again, ARMYs didn’t budge, but the boys’ jackets and faces were drenched; you could see Jin squinting at the raindrops, and water dripping from their faces as they spoke. There was no question: even if the choreography for the last song Permission to Dance had to be edited because of the obviously very wet stage floor, they were going to finish this in high spirits.

And just like true ARMYs would, we left the Cinema over two hours later, elated but with one shared thought: “Naku, sana hindi sila magkasakit! (We hope they don’t get sick!)” If PH ARMYs had their way, BTS would be in warm showers, given salabat, and tucked into cozy beds before the night was over. Well done, our boys.

Read more:

How I got into BTS

I traveled across the globe to watch BTS

When BTS owned the night

I’m missing BTS in LA

BTS champions the ‘Welcome Generation’—and says they are vaxxed

BTS concert tour cancelled: We were hoping until…

We translated a ‘BTSeller’ from Korea with love

About author


She is a writer, editor, breast cancer and depression survivor, environmental advocate, dog mother to three asPins, Iyengar yoga instructor and BTS Army Tita. She edits part-time for a broadsheet, but is headed towards a full-time vocation as an online English writing coach and grammar nazi.

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