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We don’t need permission to have fun: ARMY invades Las Vegas

The city went all out to welcome BTS with activities to keep fans happy even before concert time

“Rock with me, Baby!” My butter pose

I arrived in Las Vegas on April 12, Tuesday. The week prior, so many ARMYs found their way to Las Vegas to attend the first two nights of BTS’ Permission to Dance On Stage–Las Vegas. I was there to attend days three and four. What made the Vegas series different from the Los Angeles one I attended last year was that this time, Hybe, the production company behind BTS, also launched their new project called “BTS Permission to Dance The City–Las Vegas,” where they complement the concert experience with many other fan-centered events and collaborations all over the city. It made the trip all the more fun for us fans, because we had so many activities and interactions pre-concert.

Moreover, since BTS had been in Las Vegas early for the Grammys, they had time to go around the city and experience Las Vegas themselves. Like any die-hard fan would do, ARMY didn’t miss any chance to do what our idols did, and this made for an even busier and happier vacation.

April 13 was the day I visited the BTS pop-up and the BTS photo exhibit,  Behind The Stage. Both events were held at Area 15. The BTS pop-up was an installation created by Hybe recreating the sets used by the band for their music videos. It was definitely a content-driven playground. The backdrop and props inspired ARMY to bring out all our K-poses and music video-inspired moves. It was super duper fun. Each person I bumped into was so creative and so into the moment, and that included me.

Yes, BTS conquered Las Vegas!

My mom at the enticing entrance of the BTS pop-up

The Butter elevator. I am the Y in ARMY。

Oh yes, finally seeing the boys in person again!

Here I am with Kim Taehyung, voted as the most handsome man in the world.

The Dynamite set where RM picked up a vinyl

This was the set before the entrance. It set the mood for the whole place. We don’t need permission to pose!

The Permission to Dance set of washing machines where JK did his awesome pirouette

The pop-up was so well organized. ARMYs, as usual, patiently waited their turn in each set. The organizers even had staff stationed in each set to take our photos so we could take nice solos and group shots without having to bother anyone.

After playtime, I headed over to the Behind The Stage photo exhibit. It showed behind-the-scenes photos of the boys preparing for the concert, and special photos taken while they were either backstage or performing. I especially liked the practice videos showing the boys rehearsing. Practice videos were what drew me to watch more of BTS. I started my ARMY journey watching YouTube’s suggested videos of BTS dance practices. Back then, I had no idea who they were and couldn’t tell them apart, but I couldn’t deny that these boys had so much talent. They were the best dancers I had ever seen. As I watched more and more of those practice videos, I discovered they were more than their awesome dance moves, and though I couldn’t understand their songs, I couldn’t stop listening to them, either. And so, here we are today!

Clockwise, from top right: Suga, Jimin, Jungkook and RM, photographed at their rehearsals. And me wishing I was in the middle of it all. 😂

Every member of the BTS ARMY feels we are member number 8. That’s what makes us so invested. Here I am standing in my spot as number 8!

True that, Suga!

After viewing the pop-up and photo exhibit, I met up with my youngest ARMY friend, Bianca. Bianca and I set out to visit the places BTS visited and recreated some of their moments. For any die-hard fan, this was so fun! And as we traced their steps, I found so many other fans doing the same thing. We really are all a little crazy.

Bianca and I Hobi-ing. Hobi is the nickname of j-hope, and he posted a photo on this exact spot. ARMY immediately found it, and it became an attraction right in the middle of The Crystal Shops.

Hobi also visited this rainbow at Aria. Thank you, B, I had fun Hobi-ing with you!

For PTD Las Vegas, my constant concert companion was Michelle Lao, who I fondly call Monster. Monster and I have known each other since the early 2000s, during the time in my life when I was in fashion retail. BTS has given us the chance to reconnect, another one of the many gifts I have received because of them. Thank you, Monster, for a very enjoyable and memorable time in Las Vegas with you.

April 14 was the day Michelle and I were to do some Namjooning. Kim Namjoon is the real name of BTS’ beloved leader, RM. He has always shown fascination for the arts, and so retracing his steps was not only fun but good for the soul, as well. Namjooning brought Michelle and me to Seven Magic Mountains.

It was a very windy day in the desert, but look at this beautiful work of art.

Posing anywhere and everywhere with Michelle Lao

ARMYs were here and left their mark.

No BTS-centered day is complete without a K-BBQ meal. We wanted to go to Hobak, the restaurant that Suga, Jimin, and Jungkook visited after the day 2 concert, but there was a two-hour wait. I tried three times during this trip to eat at Hobak, but it was overflowing each time—undeniable proof of BTS’ midas touch. We ended up at Master Kim’s, which turned out to be a very good place to eat. Thank you, Yelp, for the recommendation!

Taking my grilling seriously, as Jin and Suga do when they cook for the boys

Because of V’s interaction with Lady Gaga at The Grammys, we bet and hoped that BTS would watch her concert. And so off we went to see Lady Gaga, as well. The bet paid off, as j-hope was there! It was surreal to be around at least one of them in the audience enjoying the show just like we were. This Lady Gaga concert had a different format from her usual. It was a piano and jazz concert with an orchestra. Lady Gaga’s powerful voice and hilarious wit completed our night.

Lady Gaga had amazing costumes throughout the night, and had the audience wrapped around her finger the whole time. Thank you for this photo, Michelle.

April 15 was concert day! Walking into Allegiant Stadium and seeing not a single empty seat made me so excited for the night ahead. We were seated at the 100s section. The vantage point of this seat was excellent. It was near enough to see their faces, yet far enough to see the whole stage. Special shout-out to Bea and Lia Garcia and their mom, Diane, for getting me these super seats!

Excited to see BTS Live!

Great view from these great seats

ARMY Bomb, a very important component of every concert experience!

The Allegiant was packed. And I think the Allegiant was better than SoFi Stadium in LA in every way.

What made this particular concert even more special for me was that I got to watch it with my mom and my sister-in-law, Anj. Last year, my one and only brother Lit flew to LA to watch the last night of the concert with me, as well. I am so happy that this time, my Mom and Anj got the chance to see BTS, too. My mom was so curious as to why I was so crazy over BTS and wanted to see for herself. I jokingly told her that even at this age, she still decided to chaperone my date with seven boys. I am so happy to have converted my family into an ARMY family! Also with us for this show was one of my childhood best friends, May Tan. She too came out of the concert a BTS convert! It really is impossible to watch a BTS concert and not come out a fan. There really is no experience like it.

With my sister-in-law Anj and my mom, Luz. The Onrubias partying with BTS!

And here is May Tan, my newest ARMY recruit

BTS themselves, Jin in particular, acknowledged how the energy of the night was extraordinary. And having just come from a five-day break themselves, the boys were so fresh and their energy was through the roof! I have seen this concert many times, both live and online, but what makes each one different is how the boys interact with each other and ARMY at each show. This night, they were extra playful, and that made the concert super fun. ARMY was also extra organized this night, and was prepared with all the fan chants. That’s another aspect of ARMY life that is so unique to the BTS ARMY. There are fan chants for every song, and this allows the exchange between the boys and their fandom to be an epic display of true interaction.

For me, what really makes a BTS concert like no other is how involved the fans are and how they have become a crucial element to the success of each show. It’s no longer just about BTS. It’s really the collaboration between ARMY and our beloved boys that makes this fandom so unique. This became really apparent during the “Permission to Dance On Stage–Seoul” series, where the fans were not allowed to scream, sing, or dance. They were only allowed to clap. This changed the energy of the concert tremendously, and it was so obvious that it affected BTS’ performance, as well. They were struggling, but what I think was the beautiful effect of that was watching the boys rely on each other to pull through. They truly are a rare unit and a solid team.

This is my favorite part of this concert. This segment is so creative and artistic, and showcases how truly talented they are.

This dance break was made especially for this PTD concert series. I have seen it so many times, but it never gets old! See how Jin jumps to the beat as he moves to his seat. His hand was injured during this concert, so he would sit out the difficult dance parts. Video by Michelle

OT7 means One True Seven. It is an ARMY term used for fans who stan all seven boys. The true, long-time, hard-core fans are OT7!

Some ARMY got this close at the part where BTS rode a moving cart to get closer to their fans. Photo from Bianca

Take a bow, my boys, that was an awesome concert!

And so comes April 16, the last night of this concert series and the night the concert was streamed online. I was extra, extra excited about this show because for the first time ever, I got to watch from the floor. Michelle and I were very emotional entering the stadium and finding our seats. It was much closer than I expected, and the point of view was clearer than I had imagined it to be. I had only wished and fervently hoped to see the boys up close—to really see their faces, how tall they are, their smiles and their flawless skin. I was in disbelief that my wish was coming true. It was astounding to see them and REALLY see them. They were much more handsome, I actually don’t know how this was even possible. Jungkook was surprisingly the one who looked extra handsome up close. He was a dream! And they were all unbelievably super thin. Seeing their side profile left me in awe of how slender they are all. I wondered how they could be so energetic and eat so heartily, yet have such narrow bodies. Seeing Jimin dance and perform up close left me even more in awe of how he moves his body. He has this graceful yet alluring way about him that takes my breath away. There is no denying that BTS is definitely the best performers of this generation.

That PTD Las Vegas stage was different from PTD LA. They had two screens, instead of just 1 in LA, and as if matching the energy of the city, there were much more effects and drama for the Las Vegas shows.

The BTS crew’s attention to detail is exceptional. The confetti showered at the end of the show is cut in the shapes and colors of the Permission to Dance logo. So cute that the ARMY made sure to pick these up as souvenirs.

OMG, Jin! There are no words to describe you.

What was also a new dimension of the PTD Las Vegas concert series were the after-parties. There was a huge after-party at Jewel every concert night. But for me, what was memorable and super fun was the impromptu after-party at the casino area of the Luxor. As fans were walking through the casino to get to their respective hotels after the concert, the DJ started playing BTS songs. ARMY immediately congregated around the DJ and before long, there was a huge crowd singing and dancing to BTS songs. ARMY bombs were whipped out and it was an instant ARMY concert! I was so impressed at how the people there knew every single word of every song. People of all races, genders, and ages were singing and rapping in Korean. Those in the casino were in shock and started to take videos of us partying like there was no tomorrow. It was so moving, and was more proof of the power of BTS and their ARMY.

Also noteworthy was the fact that every Uber driver I rode with could not help but tell stories of how they have been shuttling BTS fans for several days. They were in awe of our sheer number. They didn’t know of BTS before April 2022, but I am so sure they will never forget the name BTS henceforth. Las Vegas gave BTS and the ARMY such a warm welcome. The hotels lit up in purple in the evenings like they never had before; Bellagio even changed the music of their iconic fountain show to BTS tunes, and there were signs all over making it undeniable that BTS and ARMY had invaded Las Vegas.

In Namjoon’s ending message, he talked about how the two-way relationship between BTS and ARMY recharge each other with every interaction. I couldn’t have put it any better. I realized that was the purpose of these concerts. Aside from seeing them perform live and witnessing their greatness in person, I now understand that the reason I couldn’t resist coming to Las Vegas to see them is because they give me enough inspiration, good vibes, and happy memories to allow me to live my everyday life with joy. I cannot comprehend how a K-pop group can have such an immense effect on my life. But ask any member of the BTS ARMY, and they will all tell you with absolute certainty how much happier we have all lived since the boys came into our lives. So yes, BTS has the Midas touch, such that everything they wear, eat, drink, and use gets sold out in minutes.

But more than that, their greater contribution is how they make their fandom, composed of people of all ages, genders, and races, genuinely and truly happy. So happy that we cannot help but spread our joy and happiness to the people around us. I am grateful every day for the gift of BTS.

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The author: 'I would describe myself as a mother and wife, a lawyer (partner at LGTON Law) by profession whose blood type is B...TS'

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