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Permission To Dance: From Screen To Stage

When ARMY opened up their online browsers to watch "Permission To Dance On Stage", few could fathom the experience that would take place just over a month later at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles, California. Over the past few months, BTS dreamt and executed an incredible setlist of entirely “OT7” group performances and transferred some of their greatest hits into a record-breaking set of concerts that ARMY will remember for years to come. While the COVID-19 pandemic rages on globally, the transition from online to on stage marked the return of BTS as one of the dominant and multi-dimensional powerhouses in today’s music industry.


Online and In Our Hearts


It seems fitting that their song, Permission To Dance, emphasizes sign language in its choreography because the online concert, held on October 24, highlighted the accessibility and influence of the various digital performances that BTS and Big Hit Music have truly mastered during the pandemic. Viewers from all 197 countries tuned in to watch the two-hour show that featured new and fresh imaginings of old and contemporary pieces alike. ARMY was collectively stunned by fresh combinations of songs, such as a remixed Blood, Sweat, and Tears that transitioned into Fake Love. These performances were accompanied by new looks and outfits, such as the all-black ensemble from the aforementioned mash-up that included body chains for the vocal line and even a skirt for SUGA. The online concert also marked the premiere of a new set of VCRs designed by V, though unfortunately, the man himself was sidelined by a leg injury and wasn’t able to dance for most of the show.


Permission to Connect: Onstage


All seven members were ready to go once they arrived in Los Angeles. To the surprise of some, the offline shows mirrored the outfits, VCRs, and most of the setlist of the online concert. From the trap-inspired “Fire” remix with staging reminiscent of Interlude: Shadow to a jazzy rendition of Dynamite that used a truly spectacular dance break to transfer into Butter, most of the staging and choreography remained the same. The main difference, of course, was in the presence of the audience and the energy with which BTS and ARMY were able to create new moments throughout the show.


BTS made sure to keep their improvisations fresh while on stage, making liberal use of the confetti guns during stadium anthems, such as So What, and collectively teasing Jimin over the choreography from Save Me. Moreover, the two sentimental songs sung at the end of the show were never the same each night. By the end of the run, ARMY had listened to We are Bulletproof: The Eternal, Love Yourself: Answer, Spring Day, Epilogue: Young Forever, HOME, and Mikrokosmos, all of which have deep meaning for ARMY and BTS. The other notable change in the setlist from day to day was bringing recent collaborators on stage with them, performing Butter with Megan Thee Stallion on November 28, and My Universe with Chris Martin of Coldplay on the final concert date, December 2, much to ARMYs’ surprise.


In-Person ARMY Love


ARMY reciprocated with both enthusiasm and creativity. One particularly memorable instance of organic fan-artist synergy was during Blue and Grey on the night of Wednesday, December 1. ARMY bombs didn't light up during this portion of the concert to represent the depression and anxiety discussed in the song; however, inspired by an ARMY TikTok, the entire 50,000+ stadium turned on their cell phone flashlights and surprised BTS as they turned to face the audience for the final verse. In an interview with Dispatch, Jungkook stated that this was one of the most memorable moments of the LA run. Similarly, ARMY surprised Jin for his birthday twice at the December 2 show: with hearts inscribed with his name at the beginning and by turning their ARMY bombs into moons using black cardboard holders at the end. Jin was moved almost to tears and sincerely thanked ARMY both onstage and later in his birthday VLive.


It’s Not Over ('Til It’s Over)


The Permission to Dance concerts marked the culmination of a difficult era for both BTS and ARMY, one that simultaneously brought an extraordinary amount of success and loss to both fans and artists. Watching both shows truly encapsulates this entire journey. The online concert demonstrated the formidable popularity of the group but also the profound desolation that the members felt when they performed in empty stadiums during a global pandemic. Their triumphant return to Los Angeles marked what RM called a “new beginning” for both the members and their fans, promising a new album to come. They even teased a concert, which is to be held in Seoul, South Korea, in March of 2022.


Written By: Mariko

Edited by: Cassie

Designed by: Achan


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