Alright, of the bat, maybe at this point people will really be starting to call me insane for busting this much already. It wasn’t very long ago when I was in Hong Kong for Taeyeon’s PERSONA tour stop. And now I committed once more to arguably the most significant event I can go to.
A Holiday to Remember. The 10th Anniversary Fanmeet. Seoul Olympic Hall.
Of course, what made it crazier for me was that I was going into this with like rookie level knowledge of Hangeul. This obviously wasn’t a concert where there are more performances than talking segments and therefore would require less knowledge of the language. It is quite the opposite. So, for this fanaccount, I would referring a lot to the translations done by two people that I was lucky enough to meet after the fanmeeting, known famously on Twitter as SONExStella and itnw0628.
But that didn’t diminish at all the intensity of the feelings and thoughts that I experienced, and I hope I can share them with you in such a way that would reflect the atmosphere and the environment that prevailed during that time. And I warn you readers, there were a lot of nostalgia and feels that went down during the fanmeet, so I will apologize in advance if I end up saying that I cried and bawled a lot here.
Obviously, the fact that this was a milestone in their careers, and with all the promise of a “Holiday to Remember” that would rock SONEs to the core as much as possible, I was anxiously looking forward to this. Thanks to a tiny window of opportunity, I was able to snag an SM Global Package for this one. It put a nice little dent on my wallet, but after all was said and done, it was all worth it.
Before I actually start recounting that wonderful experience, I would like to apologize for the lack of pictures. Just like Phantasia in Seoul before, security was very strict regarding taking videos and photos. I was in a pretty open spot, so I could get easily caught if I violated the rules.
My seat was in the first row of the block, and there was some space in between blocks. So I really couldn't ninja photos because the staff were going back and forth in front of me.
We got to the venue at around five in the afternoon. The place was packed with people in the sweltering Seoul summer heat. Of course, as Sooyoung requested during the VLive broadcast, almost everyone I saw there were in the pink dress code. Including myself, of course.
Ready to rock and roll in pink!
They gave us these at the entrance. Yay! Free lightstick! And the banner we were suppose to hide until much later.
Fast forward a little bit to seven in the evening. The lights dimmed, and the entire Olympic Hall was filled with yet another of the fabled Pink Ocean. After the “Holiday” teaser blasted on the center big screen, all eight members of Girls’ Generation appeared from up the ramps, walking down to the stage, and, for the very first time ever, did the full live performance of “Holiday”. I already love the song when it first came out, and seeing them perform it live just made the appeal all the more intense. Just like the previous experiences, it was such an exhilarating feeling, witnessing them all together on stage once more. And they haven’t missed a beat.
Not to mention that it has been two freaking years since I last saw them live. Gosh, all the feels right away, realizing how much I missed them, all of them. I couldn’t even begin to describe how my heart was beating and thumping so hard in my chest when they graced the stage, all resplendent in shiny costumes, with the letters “gg” attached on the left side of their chests.
“Holiday” was already enough to get things rolling, but they upped the intensity even more by following it up with “Party”. Well, it was summer after all. And I really love “Party” as well. Tiffany was looking extremely excited, ad lib-ing her intro, “Hey SONE! Do you know what time it is? It must be party time! Here we go!”
And being the sentimental idiot that I am, I was already welling up. Gosh, the fanmeet hasn’t technically started.
After “Party”, the girls did something that I was extremely hoping that they’ll do to introduce themselves. I literally jumped out of my seat for joy, stamping my feet with so much excitement when I heard Tiffany kick off the introductions with, “안녕하세요! 보석보다 빛나는 파니 파니 티파니입니다! (boseok boda bitnaneun Fany Fany Tiffany) (Hello! This is brighter than gems Fany Fany Tiffany!)” and then coaxed the rest of the girls to do the same, in a cute manner.
Yes, they were all doing their debut era introductions. I don’t think I ever heard and seen them do that live in all the years that I’ve been to their concerts. Well, I did become a SONE only in 2010, so I totally missed out a lot during those precious early years.
Taeyeon was up next, doing her 꼬꼬마 리더 태연 (Ggoggoma Leader) (Kid Leader) introduction. Gosh she was so cute looking so awkward doing so. By the way, even if it was just beginning, there were already so many nostalgic throwback feels going on. Seohyun went next, and we all know that she is the prim and proper막내 서현 (Maknae Seohyun) (Youngest Seohyun).
And then Sunny took her turn, looking really embarrassed trying to personify her old 활력소 써니 (Hwalryeokso Sunny) (Energizer Bunny Cutie Sunny), and then quickly passing the spotlight to Yoona. And the 매력 소녀 윤아 (Maeryeok sonyuh Yoona) (Charming Girl Yoona) did not disappoint, cutely laughing along the way. Hyoyeon did not hesitate do show some dance moves when she went, “안녕하세요! 댄싱퀸 효연입니다! (Hello! This is Dancing Queen Hyoyeon)”.
The nostalgic trip continued with Yuri going, “안녕하세요! 흑진주 유리입니다! (Heukjinjoo Yuri) (Black Pearl Yuri)”, and 명랑공주 수영 (Myeongrang gongju Sooyoung) (Happy Princess Sooyoung) Sooyoung capping it off in a cute voice, but then fell awkwardly embarrassed as well.
After a few more words, the staff brought a lovely pink cake out. It was Girls’ Generation’s 10th anniversary after all, and a celebratory cake was obviously in order. That part actually made for a few laughs, because Hyoyeon and Seohyun struggled with the lighter, getting teased about being too weak and making up excuses that the lighter was broken. Yuri even called for a matchstick instead. But Hyoyeon was able to finally make the darn thing to work, lighting the candles. The girls even made it more special when we were all singing “Happy Birthday to you” by prompting us to sing “사랑하는 소시 소원 (Saranghaneun Soshi Sowon)…”. And then it became funny when the girls assigned Seohyun to cut the cake. But she couldn’t decide where to cut it, worrying that she might destroy it. So she simply said that we should just assume that the cake has been cut.
After the staff wheeled the assumed cut cake away, the girls finally settled down to formally begin the first talk portion. This was a fanmeet after all, and there are lots and lots of talking to occur. It was at this point that my rudimentary Hangeul was beginning to fail me, but regardless, it didn’t actually diminish the fun one bit.
They then proceeded to their first talk segment, making it sound cute by going “Talk Talk!” Sooyoung and Yuri emceed this first section. Basically, each picture of the girls, arranged by age on the big screen, had a key word in which they would explain or expound on. And obviously, Taeyeon’s picture was up first, revealing the words “Samchon fan”. The girls quickly started their banter, recalling all those times when their older uncle fans were giving them health supplements, vitamins, and healthy food, as compared to cuter gifts they receive from their younger fans. They also recalled the celebrities who were also uncle fans, and then pointing out that Sunny’s uncle fan is like the boss of the samchon fan division. That made us all laugh. I daresay, if you don’t get the joke, then you’re not a SONE.
This continued for quite a bit, going through different topics like their experiences of performing in military camps, coming up with good choreographies for their group dances and joking along the way as to who made the most mistakes (again, if you don’t know who that is, you’re not a SONE), and how the fandom name “SONE” came about (it almost became “Honey” at one point). At this point, they decided to do a two-line poem for 소 (So) and 원 (Won) to describe what SONE is to SNSD. While Sooyoung and Sunny managed to get really nice ones, Hyoyeon made a really silly one, Tiffany made a really cheesy one, and Taeyeon failed like three times before she saved herself. It was really funny.
The segment proceeded with reminiscing about their CFs, asking each other which ones were the most memorable ones. Goobne Chicken, Domino’s Pizza, Samyang Ramen, Banana Milk, and Maple Story all came back to mind. The girls then wondered if they were ever going to do a CF for alcoholic drinks. Now there’s a thought.
Sooyoung’s picture flipped to reveal “Leg Beauty”. Wow. How appropriate. And then they proceed to boast about which body part they were proud of. Sooyoung, aside from her legs, said that she was proud of her hair. Taeyeon had her shoulders. Hyoyeon talked a bit about her eardrums (yeah, her eardrums). Yoona said her hands are the best. Sooyoung and Yuri skipped Sunny, saying that it was very obvious to everyone what her best body part was. This prompted Sunny to start doing the boob dance, making the rest of the girls scream, telling her to stop, and us fans laugh and cheer really loud.
As for Seohyun, well, I was kinda expecting what she would boast about, and she did not disappoint, promptly putting her elbow up. I remembered how much Taeyeon was scared of Seohyun’s elbows. The girls kept teasing her for a bit, complimenting on her entire body line and even asking her to turn around and show her back to the fans. Yoona then joked that Seohyun should just stay like that with her back turned for the rest of the show. To cap things off, Tiffany showed off her beautiful teeth… well gums actually, since hers were really pink, just like her lips. Trust Tiffany to always have to do with something pink. And then Yuri said her neck was the best. The last two topics were “Hook Song” and “Skinny Jeans”. Of course, it cannot be avoided that “Gee” would be mentioned in this case. Oh, and this was the point where Hyoyeon’s lipstick incident, where she got caught on camera walking in the airport with lipstick smeared on her teeth. I didn’t understand it at first, but when I caught on, man that was hilarious.
For the next part, Taeyeon and Sunny took over as emcees. The girls showed a number of their “Best 3” stuff. For the first one, from bottom to top, their best three songs were “Gee”, “Holiday”, and, of course, “Into the New World”. And if you thought it was just gonna end there, you’re dead wrong. The girls proceeded to form teams for a quick “Guess the SNSD song” game. Sooyoung and Sunny were “Tall and Short” (which earned loads of laughs). Hyoyeon and Yoona were the most unimaginative, going for “Hyo-yoong”. Yuri and Seohyun were the “Shampoo” team. Taeyeon and Tiffany were “Blue Pink” (to which Seohyun commented something about them being “Blackpink”, as in the girl group). And after much banter and roasting, Team Blue Pink won. Their prize went missing though.
The next part was the girls’ “Best 3 Choreo”, where, again from bottom to top, it was “Genie”, “Catch Me If You Can”, and, once again, “Into the New World”. This was quickly followed by their “Best 3 Styles”. “Party”, “Genie”, and “Gee” was shown here. And then, their “Best 3 Concert Performances” were shown. The third placed performance was “Show Girls”, the one that they did for MBC as part of their comeback two years ago. The second one was a concert video vignette of them all dressed up as men. The first one, and I kinda expected this as well, was the Tokyo Dome Into the New World ballad version performance. Honestly, after so many times of watching that, I still get all ugly-faced crying and bawling and whatnot. But then, the girls started giggling and all when the video was playing, and Sunny quickly stood up and pretended to leave the stage when her part showed up, with her all crying and whatnot. Taeyeon and Seohyun saved the moment by saying that indeed it was a very meaningful and emotional performance for them. And of course, without saying it out loud, everyone in the hall knew why.
Up next, Tiffany and Yoona took over as emcees for the next part, which was a quiz “Let’s Talk About SoShi”. The point of the game was if one of them is able to answer a question about a member, then she will get a gift-wrapped prize. The first question was already so funny, since nobody could remember what was the name of Sooyoung’s first puppy that she raised. And then finally, Taeyeon got it right, blurting out the name “Cha-Cha”. Yuri got the next question correctly, answering that it was oysters that makes Sooyoung’s stomach ache. And Yuri continued her roll, answering correctly that it was during drama press conferences that Yoona became nervous the most.
Would you believe that? I mean, after all this time, the most experienced SNSD actress can still get the jitters every drama press conference.
One of the funnier ones was members randomly blurting out Hyoyeon’s bad habits, trying to answer the question as to when does she think that she’s ugly. Hyoyeon even quipped that she was digging her own grave by even asking that question. Finally, Sooyoung got it right when she answered when Hyoyeon comes in late but then acts all cocky and whatnot. Another funny thing was that when it was revealed that Yuri’s special skill was writing letters, to which Taeyeon said, “That’s a special skill?” A third funny thing was when Sooyoung answered “A mirror” to the question of what item makes Seohyun cry. Man, seeing SNSD roasting each other with such savagery is so much fun.
I have to say, this next part was so meaningful for me, for several reasons. For starters, I narrowly missed out on the “Into the New World” Asia Tour in Taipei back in 2010. And it still eats me a little bit inside until now. Secondly, I only became a SONE in 2010, so I really missed out a lot of their early performances. So imagine my surprise and shock when I realized that “Tinkerbell” started to blare through the hall’s speakers. And, a few seconds later, I felt my heart bursting in my chest when I saw Taeyeon walking down from the audience in her bright red oversized sweatshirt, emblazoned with the number 22 and the words “Taeyeon” and “Girls’ Generation” in big white letters. You got that right. They were all donning replicas of their old costumes from 2008. And gosh, I was so shocked that it took a few seconds for me to realize that I was just standing maybe like twenty, thirty feet away from the Kid Leader. The goosebumps were really crawling all over my skin.
Taeyeon and Hyoyeon made their way from the audience to the stage, meeting the others to sit at the middle of the stage steps. Aside from the two, Sunny was also in red, while Seohyun, Tiffany, Yuri, Yoona, and Sooyoung were in white. With the full impact of the realization dawning on me as to how big and how far back this, well, throwback will be, I actually started crying. Seriously. I was like, “OMG, I’m gonna see a blast from the past.”
And I actually did. Because right after “Tinkerbell”, the girls proceeded to perform “Ooh La La”. Now there’s more nostalgia for the fans who were with them since the beginning. And dang, I can say that they were doing quite fine, with similar energy levels as was then back in the day. I really found it so adorable right before the bridge part of the song where Tiffany cutely jumped out from behind their formation, ushering Seohyun’s part. Gosh, I swear she looked like a kid. It was all so cute.
And then, the last two performances really took the spotlight for me. “Kissing You”, the original version mind you, came next. And next thing I knew, the girls were actually waving their lollipops. Just like the old ones they used to wave around. And we found ourselves doing the old fanchants, just like back in the day. But the last performance for this segment was really the icing on the cake, and I was so happy to finally witness this one. The girls actually performed their second career single, “Girls’ Generation”. Now talk about nostalgia galore. Like I said, I never saw this performance live, so finally seeing after all these years was such a treat. I am actually quite happy that they thought about performing this, and putting it last for this segment. That was an entire twenty minutes full of happy memories right there.
After exiting the stage and another video vignette, they proceeded to another lengthy talk segment. This time, they were wearing very pretty and colorful dresses. They talked a bit about the last set, commenting on something about how it was so long since they wore such costumes and performed their old songs. Taeyeon even said that the lollipops that they were using were actually the old ones and they didn’t make new ones. They had to look for it and wash it since it was in storage for so long.
Hyoyeon and Seohyun emceed this portion, which was to answer some questions that fans posted. Some of the funnier ones were Tiffany automatically flashing her infamous eye smile that always knocks everyone dead. And Taeyeon, ever the dork, was actually hovering in the background, scanning the sticky notes on the board propped up behind them. She actually couldn’t decide which question to pick out and answer, that dork.
At this point, they began telling each other some personal thoughts, down the line. Taeyeon faced Yoona, saying how proud she was of her dongseang. Yoona’s thoughts to Yuri was to always be healthy, and that her eonnie was so cool and pretty. Yuri turned to Hyoyeon, who said that she was so thankful to be together for 17 years. Hyoyeon turned to Seohyun, saying that she was her pride. She actually did it in a funny way, not being able to make eye contact. I didn’t honestly understand if it was because Hyoyeon was afraid to laugh or to cry. It was probably the latter, since Seohyun, ever the softy, was already tearing up way before.
I’m sure that Seohyun is everyone’s pride. Not just within SNSD, but also within SONE. Seohyun grew up really well.
And speaking of Seohyun, her message to Tiffany was very fitting of her image and personality, saying how thankful she was for all of her eonnies being with her all this time. Bless her heart. She was crying already, to which Sooyoung whined, telling her not to cry. However, those tears became infectious. After Tiffany told Sunny that she is so proud that they have all become so incredible and that she hoped that they can all continue to love each other without changing, Sunny was already struggling to keep composed. Sunny then proceed to say to Sooyoung that she was sorry for everything, and that she was so thankful for everything as well. And just to lighten the mood, she even joked about her actually being a man. And lastly, Sooyoung, from way across the stage, turned to Taeyeon, expressing something that I think all of us are always silently worried about our Kid Leader. Sooyoung reminded Taeyeon that she can always lean on her shoulder, regardless of whatever.
They then took the stage once more, this time for a more sentimental segment. I guess an SNSD special event will not be complete without some performance of their now-monumental debut song, “Into the New World”. The lights came on, and I saw them all seated at the top part of the stage. When the first few bars of the ballad version started playing, I immediately felt a lump on my throat. I almost choked, realizing that I was about to witness another heart tugging moment. But then, I felt myself crying again, especially when Tiffany wasn’t able to finish her part properly because she was also crying, holding Sunny’s hand. Tiffany, who was seated at my right end of the row, was actually facing Sunny while she sang her part, and then grabbed her hand. Man, that did me in, seeing how emotional they can still get singing “Into the New World”. Yeah, I cried. Again. They next sang “One Last Time”, a song off the “Holiday Night” album. It had such a different, serious, but still an emotional vibe to it. That beat, that rhythm, there was something about it that left an equally mysterious something inside me. Not to mention I realized how difficult this song actually is towards the end, with all of those high notes and all.
Afterwards, we come to the last part of the program. Man, at this point, I didn’t realize that three hours already went by. After a short video vignette showing the teaser of “All Night”, the lights came on once again. Resplendent in super sparkly attires, they opened this part with Yoona’s cute voice blasting “I like to party!”, ushering in “All Night”. Of course, since this was the first time they were performing “All Night”, everyone was super excited once more. It was a pity though that we had no idea how to fanchant this one, unlike what you have probably seen in the music shows. That would have been epic as well, with 2,500-plus strong SONEs present.
They then proceeded to perform yet another iconic song. The moment the girls formed a single line, with Yoona up front, even in darkness, we all knew what song that was. “Genie” started playing, and we started fanchanting. It was nuts. I actually missed all the fanchanting. It is such an energizing stress reliever to go all crazy singing and fanchanting to SoShi songs. And of course, that ending pose with the sharp salute was always something to enjoy to see.
The girls paused from performing, and took the time once more to talk to us. And then, another big highlight of the night happened. I was told that this was done in absolute secrecy, and that the Girls have no idea about this part. While they continued talking, a video suddenly interrupted everything, taking everyone’s attention. Of course, we fans in the audience already have an idea what it was, since we were told beforehand, but we didn’t know exactly when it was going to happen during the fanmeet.
This was the “What SNSD means to SONE” fan project. Way beforehand, fans were asked to send handwritten messages answering that question, “What SNSD means to SONE?”. And now, the Girls got to see our heartfelt and sincere responses. With the instrumental version of “Sailing” playing in the background, the Girls watched the video, and obviously slowly being moved to tears. Yoona, I think, was the first one to break down and cry. After all these years, she still has a very sensitive heart towards whatever fans do for her. I think Seohyun cried next. She too was also a softy for such acts. But she was so overwhelmed that she needed to hug Tiffany and Yuri. But of course, we all love them for that. Heck, I was already crying myself, with what rudimentary Hangeul I can muster reading through those messages as well. I think some minutes in, the Girls realized how much their SONEs love them, and how much they have done for their SONEs, that all of them started tearing up, one way or another. They couldn’t get their eyes off the big screen as the video continued showing such wonderful and sincere messages.
And it wasn’t the end of it. After the part where the music played Tiffany’s part in the song, “저 먼 길을 돌아 다시 만난 세계는 너야 You know it’s true… (Jeo meon gireul dora dashi mannan segeneun neoya You know it’s true…)”, a scene of a phone being unlocked with the code “0805” prompted us for the next part. We quickly got out our hidden message banners that said, “꿈꾸듯 함께한 10년 (Ten years of dreaming together)”, and with our pink lightsticks also at the ready, we prepared ourselves. Our cheers made the Girls turn around to face us, and we surprised them with such enthusiasm as we put up our banners and lightsticks and began to sing, “Into the New World”. The original version, this time around. I have to admit, I was ugly-crap crying at this point, overwhelmed so much with the outpour of love towards the Girls. And I was ugly-crap singing myself hoarse as well, trying to keep up with the rest of the fans. I tell you, I felt like I was looking really whatever bawling and singing. And the Girls also couldn’t help but cry as well. Tiffany turned around to hide her tears while Sooyoung and Yuri were subtly crying. Seohyun and Yoona were openly in tears while Taeyeon tried to stay strong and smile, pointing her microphone at us to capture our singing. Sunny and Hyoyeon were also trying their hardest not to bawl.
These fan projects during live events are the best. I was really thankful that I was able to be a part of it, being able to openly express how much I have grown to love Girls’ Generation. I really couldn’t describe all of my feelings coursing through me at that point, except for gratitude and love towards the Girls. It was something that is so magical and so pure and so exhilarating and so overwhelming all at the same time. But at the same time, I found myself pouring out my sincerest apologies to them, for not being able to be there since the beginning. I wasn’t a fan for ten years, only seven. And I have carried that regret in my heart ever since.
Afterwards, the Girls struggled through their tears to express their gratitude and say their thanks to this small expression of our own love that we have done for them. And just to stop the tears from flowing, they tried to lighten up the mood after a few minutes.
And then, they performed the last song for the night. And the first few bars sent me bawling once more. I had both hoped and braced myself for them to finally sing this song live. And finally, after a year since its release, they finally did. “Sailing (그 여름) (0805)” started playing. I started bawling. That song has a special place in my heart, since Sooyoung wrote those lyrics with SONE in mind. Sooyoung even said that everything that they wanted to tell SONEs were put into that song. It was such a touching gesture on her part.
And come to think of it, a lot of the songs in the “Holiday Night” album were also expressions made towards SONE. The Girls really prepared a lot for this. And when I thought I couldn’t cry any harder, I just did. And the sentimentality-fueled emotions washed over as well. Sunny couldn’t finish her part while singing, finally breaking down to tears as well as we kept our banners up while waving our lightsticks. She bent over, hiding her face while still standing. Taeyeon took a few steps to pat her on the shoulder, comforting her. The bond these Girls have… witnessing such actions just makes me feel some warmth in my heart.
And that officially concluded the fanmeet. For the umpteenth time, the Girls said their thank you’s. But I really think that we fans were more thankful than they were. At least I was. And as they finally started to say their farewells, they sang a portion of one of their new songs, “Light Up the Sky”. Now that song is something special as well. I felt that it has the same meaning as “Complete”, “Forever”, and “Sailing”. I also felt that all of the Girls really like that song as well. And we actually sang with them.
But any Girls’ Generation event will not be complete without us cheering together their motto. As always, being able to say this out loud with them is again a special thing. Being able to say with them, “지금은, 소녀시대! (Jigeumeun, So Nyeo Si Dae!) (Right Now, It’s Girls' Generation!) 앞으로도, 소녀시대! (Apeurodo, So Nyeo Si Dae!) (From Now On, It’s Girls' Generation!) 영원히, 소녀시대! (Yeongwonhi, So Nyeo Si Dae!) (Forever, It’s Girls' Generation!)” strengthens that bond all the more.
Me after the event. And I was exhausted as heck.
I’ve been saying this over and over again. At the end of it all, I feel a little bit conflicted. A little over three and a half hours felt short, but at the same time, I didn't want to be too greedy. I wanted them to take their much-deserved rest to prepare for their activities scheduled for this celebration.
And I was all drained out. It has always been like that. That was when all the aches and pains started the come to me. At the end of it all, I was exhausted and all worn out from the fanmeeting, leaving everything on the stage for them.
I’ve also said in a thousand times before. I am very thankful for such multiple opportunities see and cheer for Girls' Generation, live and alive, in the flesh. I am forever thankful and grateful for all the chances that I got so far to be a part of the Pink Ocean.
And as I write this, there is always that realization that makes me a little sad. Despite all of these efforts, living through with the fact that I am just another nameless and faceless SONE filling up the Pink Ocean still left something missing. But what makes me go on doing this is the thought that as long as I give my all to the Girls, then I should not have any regrets whatsoever.
Being there yet again, seeing Girls' Generation for the ninth time in this lifetime, it didn't feel old. Just different, making me grow that much older and more mature as a SONE. In that special corner of my mind and my heart, in my own little way, I love them.
But still, the bottom line still seems to be, as always, with great confidence, I can say, "I love you, Girls' Generation... and I always will... 'till the day I die."