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Stray Kids: District 9 Unlock in NYC

By Holly Buskirk

‘You’re doing fine have strength, just endure a little more you gotta take your time, you can do it,” is a lyric from Stray Kids song, Grow Up. Stray Kids are a South Korean boy group that consists of eight members: Hyunjin, I.N, Bang Chan, Felix, Lee Know, Han, Seungmin and Changbin. Stray Kids debuted in 2017 and they are part of a famous Korean company called JYP Entertainment. I have been a Stay (Stray Kids fanbase) for over a year and, on Jan. 29, I was finally able to see them live. After the release of one of their newest singles, Doubt Knot, they also released a tour, so I saved up all I could to be able to attend.

The concert took place at the Hulu Theater inside of Madison Square Garden. We left for New York City on Jan. 28 to begin our nine-hour journey to the Big Apple. This was my first trip to NYC where we actually stayed in the city, so we were all a little anxious to drive to the hotel. We arrived at the hotel around 1 a.m., but instead of going up to our room, we ran into the lobby to watch BTS perform their debut stage for their newest single, Black Swan. Once we arrived at our room, I immediately fell asleep to refuel myself  for the concert later that day.

On the day of the concert, we took time to explore the city. I have been to New York multiple times before, so I took this as my time to help be a tour guide. Because my friends and I are Korean pop fans, we decided to go to the Line Store. Line is a company based in Asia that is most popularly known for their messaging apps and little characters. A few years ago Line teamed up with famous K-pop group, BTS, to release their character line BT21. The Line store in New York sells stuffed animals and collectibles while housing gigantic statues of their BT21. After we left the Line store we headed straight to KoreaTown.

KoreaTown is only a few streets long, but is filled with many amazing restaurants and their iconic Koryo Korean bookstore. The store is two levels with albums, books and makeup on the first floor and Korean street style clothes on the second. Even if you are not a fan of K-pop I would still check out all KoreaTown has to offer!

The concert was slowly creeping up on us and our excitement was overflowing. We headed back to our hotel to get dressed up for the show, then we headed to Madison Square Garden. Stays swarmed the outside of the arena as we all waited for the doors to open. Fans had made banners, cards and other keepsakes to give out to the other Stays waiting in line. A nice fanboy handed out necklaces he had made and fan-made banners were handed to fans to wave at the concert. We got inside the doors fairly quickly, but the arena was already jam-packed. We got in line to buy merchandise, but things started to go wrong.

The venue wasn’t open for 10 minutes before employees started making announcements that the merch was all sold out. We felt our hearts sink slightly to think we won’t have a lightstick or a t-shirt. Slightly upset, we decided to get out of line and find our seats. The concert was starting in five minutes and we didn’t want to be late. Once we quickly found our seats, the lights in the auditorium shut off and the room erupted with cheers.

As the show started, we immediately forgot our annoyance with the merchandise. The stage screens faded black as a short movie introducing all of the boys lit up the dark room. The screams went silent and we began to see the members walk on stage as their first song started. Their dancing was perfect and their timing was impeccable. The concert was everything I hoped it to be. As cheesy as it sounds, I felt moved by their music and how passionate and eccentric they were. I have been to many concerts in my life, but Stray Kids will always keep a little part in my heart. We had finally arrived to be in this moment right here and now. Even though these times in our lives don’t last forever, that does not mean they will ever be forgotten, Stray Kids, you make Stays, stay.

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