In a recent interview I admitted that one of my guilty pleasures is K-Pop, otherwise known as Korean pop music. What I haven’t yet admitted to many people is how this appreciation for K-Pop came about. It all started last August, when I was asked by my school to take part in the school concert.
“There’s a group of us getting together to do something for it,” one of my co-teachers told me. “Why don’t you join?”
“I’d love to!” I agreed, keen to get more involved with the school as I so often get left out of things here.
“We’re dancing to K-Pop. Is that OK?” she asked me.
I looked at her in surprise for a few seconds. They wanted me to dance to K-Pop in front of the school? There are over a thousand students at my school, would I be able to get up there in front of them and do something like that? But before I could change my mind, it was too late, and I found myself in a classroom with 10 other teachers, getting my first real induction to K-Pop from a “dance instructor” – one of the first year students.
I can’t say that the dance lessons were too well constructed. Mostly our dance instructor just played us a lot of Korean music and then occasionally threw in a few dance moves for us to learn. We’d managed to master less than a few seconds of dance by the time the week of the concert came around, and we started getting nervous. Lunchtimes were given up for dance practice, and my fellow teachers and I found ourselves sauntering around the school, trying out our moves on the sly at every given chance. Finally the day of the concert arrived and some of the students brought in costumes for us to wear. We met outside the auditorium at noon and I peeked in to take a look at the crowd. The room was filled and I was amazed to see that the school had invested in strobe lighting, stage effects, and smoke machines for the occasion. Ah! I thought, now I understand why they don’t have the money to fix all the broken computers in the classrooms and why my office computer is still running Windows 95….
After watching an impressive performance by the school cheerleaders, and a dance by some B-boys who’d been brought in for the occasion (which went down rather well in my all girls high school), it was time to go on stage. I was terrified as went up there and the students went wild, screaming and shouting our names. As the music started and we began to dance, I realized that dancing to K-Pop in front of all my students is probably the most embarrassing thing I will ever do in life, but when I got off stage and all my favourite students came over to hug me and cheer, I decided that it was worth doing anyway.
I’m not going to lie. The dance is pretty damn awful. I had to seriously consider whether I was going to post it on here or not, but I figure I’ve got no more shame to lose. The song we danced to is called ‘Apgujeong Nallaly.’ Apgujeong is a fancy area of Seoul and Nallaly means gangster, but it didn’t take long for the students to connect the similarity of my name (Natalie) with the title of the song, and ever since that day I am known in my school as Apgujeong Natalie. Enjoy: