The unique and special thing about a fan meeting is that you would get to experience some things that are more intimate in nature, compared to a concert. Sure, a concert can already overwhelm you with so much emotion. But a fan meeting can take your feels for ride, up and down, left and right, in its own crazy way.
And yet again, a random decision sent me packing a backpack and flying back to my second home. Crazier still was the fact that once more, just like the last two trips that I made, it was just all about going to see my beloved Girls’ Generation. And my short itinerary was planned around that reason. Well, this time, to see one member.
The Tiffany Young Asia Fan Meeting Tour. Taipei International Cultural Center 台北國際會議中心. Taipei, Taiwan.
But again, before I actually start recounting that wonderful experience, I would like to apologize for the lack of pictures. Just like Holiday to Remember in Seoul before, security was very strict regarding taking videos and photos. And again, I was in a pretty open spot, making it hard to ninja photos, and I could get easily caught if I violated the rules. I actually saw some who got caught and were asked to step out. I couldn’t and didn’t want to risk that.
Cameras don't really do justice in this case. I can still see her pretty clearly from my seat.
Of course, what made this extra special was the circumstances surrounding Girls’ Generation post-October 2017. The feelings going into the fan meeting were pretty new, to be honest. Here she was, striking it out on her own as Tiffany Young. And given what we’ve all seen the past year, you’d think that she’d be a different person on stage that night.
She wasn’t. She wasn’t at all. I’ll explain as we go along.
I brought two light sticks. One was from Holiday to Remember. The other one I bought from the official Tiffany Fan Meeting merchandise.
Fast forward to 6:00PM, local Taiwan time. The lights dimmed, and for the umpteenth time, the entire hall lit up in an ocean of pink. The opening VCR blasted through the big screens, displaying snippets of Tiffany’s “Over My Skin” music video. As we counted down from 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, big doors at center stage opened up, ushering in the moment everyone was waiting for. Tiffany strutted on stage, opening the fan meeting with an amazing performance of “I Just Wanna Dance”.
The thing is though, I didn’t really see her clearly when the spotlight shone on her. Right then and there, I was actually blinded by a sudden burst of tears while being distracted by the pounding of my heart in my chest and the sudden lump in my throat. For that one second, I really couldn’t believe that I was seeing her again. It has been so long, and that exhilarating rush of excitement and happiness upon that realization completely thrust me into the experience.
I eventually regained my composure, just in time to join the rest of the crowd in singing, cheering, and fanchanting along “I Just Wanna Dance”. That’s when I finally noticed how hot Tiffany actually looked, that white outfit with her left shoulder exposed (like seriously, what is it with this woman and her exposing her shoulder?) and knee-high black boots.
And after that, the show proceeded to the talk portion. There were two emcees accompanying Tiffany onstage, one was the main emcee and the other was there to help translate Mandarin to English and back when needed. The main emcee had decent English, but she did need help from time to time. She opened the talk portion by saying how sexy Tiffany looked, prompting her to make a couple of poses that pretty much knocked down quite a number of people in the audience.
They initially kicked it off with a couple of questions, which obviously a lot of people were curious about, centering on Tiffany being “Girls’ Generation’s Tiffany” and “Tiffany Young”. Tiffany described her typical day, where she would wake up at 6 in the morning to prepare for her acting classes, which lasted from 9:00AM to 2:00PM. Afterwards, she would go to the studio to work on her music until 10:00PM when she comes home, do her homework for her acting classes, and then call it a day at midnight. Rinse, repeat.
See what I meant by learning more intimate things about her?
What made this part really cute was the short Mandarin tutorial that the emcees had with Tiffany. They had her saying, “對, 不對! (Right or wrong); 是, 不是! (Yes or no); 有, 沒有! (There is or there isn’t)” stuff like that. It was really funny.
The questions on the acting part was also funny. It started out seriously, but then for some reason they ended up talking about Tiffany being in a serial killer role.
Like she hasn’t been slaying the fandom for the last eleven years.
The first part of the talk portion, named “Remember Me”, had Tiffany show some pictures of what has happened to her over the past year, and explaining the story behind them. This was where a lot of the good and intimate stuff I referred to earlier started. What I am about to share are the highlights of this part of the talk portion. The actual length of this part was obviously longer, since there was a lot of random bantering in between.
The first picture was her at the KIIS FM radio station. Tiffany shared that KIIS FM was actually special to her since she grew up listening to that FM radio station. She didn’t imagine that years and years later, she would be a guest of the show. Imagine that.
The second picture was a screencap of her television performance on FOX 11 LA. Tiffany said that this was also special to her, recalling the time when she was a little girl that her grandfather would catch the morning news on FOX 11 while she prepared to go to school. And, just like KIIS FM, she couldn’t believe that one day she would be on the show itself.
And, being the wonderfully gracious person that we have all known so well, she kept of thanking and crediting the fans for requesting “Over My Skin” to played over the radio, and it was because of that effort that landed her an interview segment on KIIS FM and that TV performance on FOX 11.
The third picture was her photoshoot in Scotland for the new H&M global music campaign that she recently announced on her social media. Now this one was hilarious, since she mentioned that during that particular photoshoot session with the sheep crossing the street, the darned animals were actually pooping as they walked in front of her. Tiffany couldn’t stop giggling every now and then as she recalled that experience, and the emcee actually made that particular part funnier by walking in front of her hunch over and pretending to poop as well. It was like the emcee couldn’t believe Tiffany’s story.
Ah, the things you do to make money sometimes.
The fourth picture was her first photo with her current short hairstyle. She explained that she and her stylist were running around the dressing room, experimenting and matching clothes and accessories that would be used for her new “Teach You” music video. I actually felt her excitement there as she recounted the story, understanding how much she enjoyed having lots and lots of input into the styling to be used for her production.
The fifth picture was her selfie with Hyoyeon and Sooyoung that she posted on Instagram regarding “Teach You”. She shared the story of her messaging in the Girls’ Generation group chat as to who was available for a couple of days to help her shoot the music video. She mentioned that Yoona, Taeyeon, Hyoyeon, and Sooyoung all chimed in and volunteered. However, only Hyoyeon and Sooyoung matched on the schedule of the filming. Tiffany then took the moment to also add how wonderful and how thankful she felt that her members are continuously supporting her and are ready to help her at a moment’s notice whenever it was possible. Tiffany couldn’t help herself in saying in a loud voice, “GG4EVA!!!” afterwards, much to the delight of the audience as well.
I took, and still am taking, comfort in that fact.
I also thought about it as well. It might be just me, but she was feeling so genuinely ecstatic to be on a stage in front of her fans. After being in some relative isolation and all – she did say that there were times she was sad in L.A. – she was really excited to share the music she can call her own.
Anyways, the second segment of the talk portion was called “Tiffany Young Big Data”. Heh. Typical Taiwanese attention to the latest technological trends. I should know. I got my PhD. in this country.
The big screen behind Tiffany and the emcees showed several keywords for them or the audience to pick. We were all screaming for them to select “Hwang Miyoung” or “황미영”, which made Tiffany scrunch her face, looking all annoyed, in a very cute manner. And that just made us scream louder.
The first keyword was “Taiwan”. It was talking about her memories of Taiwan, mentioning about “Phantasia”. She then added that she was really looking to put in more effort on showing a new side of herself that is less cute, but still, she couldn’t help herself. She said something in Korean that I couldn’t initially make out, except on the last part when she said “…gomawoyo!” and then made a huge heart pose.
That hit me. Her speaking English looked and sounded sexy and mature. But the moment she switched to Korean, Mushroom Fany took over. Just. Like. That.
Remember what I said about Tiffany Young still being the same, and not really a different person? This is just the beginning.
The next keyword was “Work”. She reflected about the challenges about bringing in the American team, the Korean team, and the Taiwanese team just to put together the fan meeting. But the big bomb she dropped that moment was that her album was almost complete, targeting a Spring 2019 release. She added that she wrote all of the songs of the album. Talk about hyping things up. I could really see that she was just bursting with excitement to finally finish everything she spent a year preparing and putting together herself, putting in all the love she can muster – that she said that this is the only way she knows how to show her love for her fans – and share it to her fans.
Next is “Prince”, leading to Tiffany saying how her dogs Prince and Princess were doing. They were actually left in Korea initially when she went back to L.A. last year. Eventually they did fly to the United States as well, but she said it was super hard. She did thank the fans once again for asking how her babies were doing. Yep. We weren’t just concerned about her alone, that’s for sure.
The fourth keyword was “Fast 3s”, in which she will be given five seconds to give three answers to a question. The question was, “What the difference between life in Korea and life in L.A.?”, in which Tiffany was so witty enough to say, “16 hours” without batting an eye. Oh this girl. She did fail though, so they reset the game and she was coached by the fans, eventually saying “Time, language, and food.”
The fifth keyword was “Fashion”, which led to Tiffany recounting the first time H&M invited her for an event. Tiffany shared the moment when she fangirled over meeting Baz Luhrmann during the H&M x ERDEM Runway Show & Party. What was good, and hopefully that would come true as well, was that she actually asked him if he can direct her next music video once the album is complete.
And that led to the next segment of the talk, in which Tiffany already confessed that she was really bad at it the last time out in Bangkok. This was the shirt drawing part where she drew herself on the shirt, but then she ended up looking like Chibi Mariko-chan instead. The shirt was then raffled off, along with a few concert merchandises. Lucky people who got those prizes, especially the shirt.
The talk part ended, and the second VCR was shown. It was mostly some recorded behind the scenes of her working on her new music. But what surprised me the most was seeing Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds working with her. Like Babyface is a freaking legend, and he’s working with Tiffany Young! I was mindblown. This upcoming album was definitely going to be good if he’s there.
The second set of the fanmeeting opened with Tiffany performing “Talk to You” and “Fool” from her “I Just Wanna Dance” mini-album. Seeing her perform once again proved that she hasn’t missed a beat. Despite her being away for a while, she still had this special aura onstage when she performs. And that just made me go all mesmerized again. Just like any other Girls’ Generation performance.
After those two performances, she paused for a bit, taking the time to pour out her heart again. She admitted that she was concerned that it’s been a long time since she has seen her fans, and that she was now thankful that we’ve all patiently waited and stayed put just for her. My heart sank while listening to her for some reason. And that distractedly made me recall once more as to how much I love her, how much I would be willing to just stay put and wait for her to complete her work that she wanted so much to share with us. And that made me realize once more that behind that beautiful smile of hers was all the burden she was carrying because of her now chosen path.
And it was at that moment that I also noticed how pretty she looked. A far cry from her first outfit. She was this insanely pretty woman, her short hair neatly framing her bright face under a black hat. Tiffany was in a black long-sleeved top and checkered pants, making her look very chic.
I briefly wished that I could carry some of the load off her shoulders, off her heart.
And if that wasn’t emotional already, her next song actually broke me down. Sitting on the stairs at the center of the stage, she started rendering her cover of Lauv’s “I Like Me Better”. Admittedly I couldn’t make out the song at first, but when I realized what she was actually singing, I cried.
I was crying so hard.
I realized that even my own case, one of the happiest moments that I have with myself was when I was with Girls’ Generation. I have oftentimes liked myself best when I was with them, when I was with her. That was why I was always laying it out for them whenever I was in a Girls’ Generation event or concert.
Truly, I like me better when I’m with Girls’ Generation. With Tiffany.
And that feeling was further amplified afterwards, when she herself admitted that she was becoming more emotional than she expected. She shared that when she went back to L.A. she had to take some time to figure herself out while trying the new things she has always wanted. And she added that she would continue to do the things that she knows to do, because those are the only things she knows how to show her love for her fans.
There she was again, pouring out her heart to the fans who loved her so much. And here I was, looking so crap ugly all messy with my tears.
And that's just that. She kept on saying "for my fans" or "to my fans" almost every other sentence. That fierce dedication to the people who believed in her since Day One, 11 years on, is still burning so much within her and keeps her going through this new path she has forged for herself.
And at that point, my head and my heart were screaming that I missed her so much. That I missed them so much.
Her being emotional continued with her performance of the next song, her cover of “Remember Me”. We had a fan project prepared, the first of two. We switched off our lightsticks and turned on our phones’ flashlights, creating a beautiful sea of stars gently waving at her. And as the song continued, I could hear her voice cracking as she was visibly struggling to keep her composure. At one point she was whining at us. I spied at the big video screens, noticing the cameras panning at us a bit, capturing that beautiful image of this young woman enjoying an intimate moment with her fans.
“Remember Me” ended the second part of the fanmeeting, making way for the third VCR showing the behind the scenes of her “Over My Skin” music video. And we all knew what that meant.
The third and final part of the show opened with “Over My Skin”. Finally, I got to see this performance live and alive. And she didn’t just sing the song like she did on FOX 11, she actually danced to it as well, just like in the practice video that I was sure knocked everyone dead a few months back. Clad in a sexy leopard print outfit, she blew us away with her performance. Oh, she was owning the stage at the moment, confident of the song that I was sure was just the first of many that would tell the world what and who Tiffany Young was all about.
Afterwards, she talked to us once more, cutely whining as to how much fans always get her surprised and emotional with their fan projects being all creative and romantic. And that was the thing about her. There she was, looking all hot and sexy in her outfit, and yet every time she talked she sounded like this innocent, starry-eyed young woman living the moment as she fulfilled her dreams one step at a time.
Even if she said that she wanted to change herself a bit and to be more mature, the Tiffany, the Hwang Miyoung, that we have all grown to love, is and will always be there. That bubbly baby with the cute and innocent eyes and that sincere smile will never go away.
Tiffany then gave us a preview of her upcoming single, “Teach You”, singing a couple of lines just to whet our appetites. She then continued on to say that she would keep on working hard for her Young Ones, which she also said her Forevers. She really knew how to play with words. And she really thought about the fandom name a lot.
Dang it, she was just the sweetest sweetheart. I honestly wanted to go for “Fanypacks” as her fandom name, but the extremely sentimental nature of “Young One” was just too huge of an impact. We all saw that tonight. And what we saw reminded us why we love her, why we love Girls’ Generation. Tiffany is Soshi's biggest fan. She is the biggest SONE. She reminded the rest of us about what and who Girls’ Generation is all about, individually and as a group.
That was the cue though for the second fan project of the night. The big screen behind her on stage lit up and started playing “파니TV(Fany TV)”, an obvious play on “탱구(Taengoo TV)”. It showed clips of her dancing, eating, all acting cute, and a brief history of her career all the way back to debut, all while “Sailing(0805)” was playing in the background. I couldn’t get the message captions flashing at the bottom of the video right away since they were in Hangeul and Mandarin, but when she turned around, she was in for another surprise. It was really more of a trip down memory lane, from what I understood.
Us on the upper levels and on the sides were holding out our banners that said, “No Matter What, In Young, We Trust”, while the ones in the center lower levels were holding out white and red cards that made each block of seats combine together to spell out, “❤T4EVA”, one block, one character or letter, which meant “Love T(iffany) forever”.
That left Tiffany stunned for several moments. What a moment.
And I was crying again.
Once she regained her composure, and after saying “Thank you so much” over and over again, she, in that familiar innocent tone of voice, said that she wanted to go up the stairs to get a better view of the whole thing and then take some pictures and videos of everything she was seeing. The moment became lighter as she teased her photographer Tony about making sure good photos were taken.
At this point, it became a bit awkward, since everybody knew that we were drawing the fan meeting to a close. None of us wanted it to end, including Tiffany. She was asking us if there was anything else we wanted to see. We all went screaming “다시 만난 세계!” or “Into the New World!” right away. She obliged, singing and performing a few parts of that now-iconic KPop debut song, starting with her own part. She even mimicked her memorable mistake in the chorus part as well. People would think that we were just being sentimental fools. But they don’t realize how much that song means to Girls’ Generation and their fans, no matter which member and no matter what fandom name. And we take every opportunity to sincerely sing “다시 만난 세계” with our beloved SoShi, every single time.
And being in “Holiday to Remember” last year, I honestly and personally felt it was a fitting ending to the fan meeting. After saying her farewells, thank yous, and goodbyes, bowing low as always, she strutted off the stage like a model that we all wanted her to do.
I’ve been saying this over and over again. At the end of it all, I feel a little bit conflicted. Two and a half hours felt short, but at the same time, I didn't want to be too greedy. I wanted her to take her much-deserved rest to prepare for her activities. She did share a lot of her big plans that she pouring out so much of herself to accomplish.
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 her.
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’ve also said before, 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 tenth 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.
I've been a fan for eight years now. And I have been saying over and over again that I have never stanned anyone this hard and this intense before. And I don't think I'll ever do so for another.
Tiffany Young. Tiffany. Stephanie Hwang. Hwang Miyoung. No matter how I put it, no matter how you show it, I have loved you as fiercely as the day I've realized my true feelings for you. At this point, I don't care if this is a mistake, a hopeless case, a crazy situation, or otherwise. I. Love. You. You have made me smile and cry at the same time. You have made me happy and sad at the same time. You have turned my world upside down and inside out that I could not even remember anymore why and how I fell in love with you.
The fan meeting reminded me once more how much I love you and why, despite the apparent hopelessness of my case, I still continue to do so. You were just there, right in the middle of the spotlight, soaking all the love you deserve. You say that we are your light in the dark. I say no. You are my light in the dark, and I am just a reflection of that light, shining back at you. You say that you like yourself better when you're with us. I say that the me that I see whenever you're around is the me that I like best. You say that we are your once in a lifetime. I say that you're my once in my lifetime I can never replace, and nothing and no one else would come even close.
Although my heart aches in acknowledgement of reality, it's a pain I'm willing to bear, no matter how foolish it sounds. I love you, Hwang Miyoung. I love you, Stephanie Hwang. I love you, Tiffany. I love you, Tiffany Young.
From your SONE, your YoungOne, right now, from now on, forever.
And as always, with great confidence, I can say, "I love you, Girls' Generation... and I always will... 'till the day I die."
As always, tired and exhausted as heck. My throat was pretty dead afterwards.