On November 19 at the Microsoft Theater in Downtown Los Angeles, the American Music Awards left the world in anticipation for one of the night’s biggest performances. It’s no secret that almost everyone was waiting to watch BTS make history. The fans, the news, the AMAs—everyone knew the night would be one to remember. You couldn’t not know about it, especially after appearances all week on major radio stations and American television programs like Jimmy Kimmel Live! and The Late Late Show with James Corden. Though the performance itself felt like mere seconds, the day’s events were filled with unity and love, fittingly reflecting the “Love Myself, Love Yourself” message that the boys advocate.
Before the Doors Opened
The doors weren’t scheduled to open until 3 p.m., but the party was already starting hours beforehand. At least a hundred ARMYs were gathered around the gates of the red carpet, engaged in all sorts of activities. Some fans were generous enough to hand out mini banners preaching “Love Yourself ♡ BTSxAMAs” on a blue to purple gradient on one side and “Love Myself ♡ BTSxAMAs” on an orange to pink gradient on the other. It was a beautiful personalized message coupled with a pair of neon purple light sticks to wave during the performance. There were all sorts of BTS merch present— various handmade signs and cardboard cutouts (especially of the boys’ less flattering, goofy faces), shirts, and phone cases to name a few. I was also able to receive a mini poster with “ARMY Amino has BTS in our DNA” plastered on top of fanart of each member (credit to @Rapmonstervocal on Twitter). Fanchant guides were also distributed, which were especially helpful for those like myself who needed to perfect their timing.
That non-stop energy ARMYs are so well known for was no different for this special day. There were several groups of fans joining in on dance covers of BTS’s biggest hits, with fans even reciting fanchants for them. And this went on for hours. I could hear the electrifying fanchants from the 17th floor of the JW Marriott opposite Microsoft Theater. It was such a friendly environment that I’ve found is really unique to the world of K-Pop. It was also the perfect opportunity for media outlets to ride on the BTS hype as many ARMYs were interviewed—for American and Korean outlets alike. Several of them didn’t even have tickets to watch the awards but showed up anyway to show their support for the boys, which I believe is a testament to the dedication all fans have to their K-Pop idols.
The Calm Before the Storm
As soon as the entrances were opened, restless fans secured their spots in line. It was interesting and amusing to distinguish attendees who were present for BTS from those who had no idea what they were about to witness. One woman would be draped in a floor-length ball gown and almond-sized jewels whilst standing next to another woman in a BTS shirt and white Converse (both of whom looked amazing).
The attendees buzzed around the lobbies, waiting for the doors to their sections to open. Some fans swarmed to the full-length windows in order to get even just a little peak at the tops of the boys’ heads. It was a noble effort on behalf of the awards coordinators to block off the red carpet with opaque gates and tarp tents. But ARMYs were attentive with focused eyes, and so everyone went nuts when a pinch of J-Hope’s fiery red hair was spotted or the back of Suga’s head. All of the fans were bubbling with excitement, and it was hard to ignore.
Once the doors opened and it was evident that the boys had left the red carpet, the fans shimmied into their respective sections and seats. It really felt like we were at a BTS concert; my entire section was littered with ARMYs, and I could spot several ARMY Bombs in the VIP section. The more than three hours we’d waited felt like nothing when we felt that rush of adrenaline as we entered the theater.
That energy transformed into fanchants, which were repeatedly chanted even before the boys took their seats. It was absolutely hilarious to see confused reactions of VIP guests looking back at the seated sections wondering if we were even speaking English. And then, the boys arrived, and all hell broke loose. The screams that bounced off of the walls mimicked those of the moment the lights go down as a concert is about to begin. The boys sauntered across the floor, taking their spots in the front row of the righthand seated section. People cursed themselves for forgetting to bring binoculars. Others just straight-up lost their minds. And all BTS had done was sit down.
This continued on until the boys stood up and headed backstage around the fourth performance. Most of the screaming had died down, unless the advertisement for the BTSxAMAs Limited Edition merch appeared on the screens—ARMYs went berserk every single time. But hey, it’s a good commercial, and it gave us a brief view of their faces since we were looking at the backs of their heads for a majority of the night.
We’ll Need a Moment to Recover
Since the boys went backstage in the earlier half of the show, fans were anxiously awaiting the next performer. The AMAs really did us dirty, though, having the boys go backstage so early, only to be the second to last out of 17 performances. So, when it was clear that the boys were actually going to perform, fans were not only excited, but restless, tired, and on the edge of their seats.
The screams were almost deafening as The Chainsmokers came out to announce BTS’s performance. I honestly had no idea what they said; I had to rewatch it on my television to actually hear it. It didn’t help that the boys were already in formation in the dark about 15 feet away from them. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any louder, the screams went from deafening to ear-shattering as the opening whistles of “DNA” bounced off of the walls. I’m surprised ARMYs were able to even hear the track in order start the fanchants on time; nevertheless, they did it.
And it was exhilarating. To see the boys dance their butts off—even as specks of dust on a huge stage from our seats—was awe-inspiring. The fanchants were everything; the broadcast attempted to mute the fan chants so they wouldn’t interfere with the boys’ mics, so make sure to watch a fancam in order to fully capture the experience. By the end of the performance, my forehead was sweating and my voice was hoarse, but it was so damn worth it. That moment will forever be engrained in my mind. It honestly felt like it went by in seconds, but I can’t deny the rush of pride I felt seeing the entire crowd stand on their feet for BTS, even those who had entered the building having no idea who they were. After the song ended and the boys received a standing ovation, they bowed and skipped backstage like it was just another day at work as the crowd continued to lose their minds. Jared Leto said it best when he realized, “I need a moment to recover from that performance. That was incredible.”
A Proud Night for All K-Pop Fans
The boys never returned to their seats afterwards, and the next thing we knew, they were chilling in their hotel suite, eating and broadcasting on the V app. They ended the night in such a BTS-esque fashion—winding down and connecting with fans as the world only began to erupt. Everything from their performance to celebrities’ tweets about them were plastered on internationally reputable sites.
Overall, this is a moment that every K-Pop fan should take pride in. ARMYs should not only be proud of the boys, but be proud of themselves for getting the world to turn its attention towards BTS and the world of K-Pop. Undoubtedly an insanely huge night for the boys, it’s also an amazing dedication to all fans who tenaciously stand behind their idols and idol groups. Everyone should take this moment to celebrate what it means to be a K-Pop fan, and I hope that, in the future, you’ll see your faves reach and surpass their goals.
I can’t wait to see what BTS has in store for the future!