By Riley Eisenbeil
KOHESION, a student-run Korean pop (K-pop) dance team at the College, hosted their debut showcase SPOOKHESION on Oct. 29 in the Brower Student Center with the support of various cosponsors, including Asian American Association (AAA), Barkada, Chinese Students Association (CSA), Indian Student Association (ISA), Japanese Student Association (JSA), Korean Student Association (KSA), Mexican Student Association (MEXSA), Taekwondo, Unified Greek Council (UGC), Union Latina (UL) and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority.
SPOOKHESION featured 13 dances with music from well-known K-pop groups, such as BTS, TXT, Twice and Aespa. Each performance featured different members of KOHESION.
“Since we knew the showcase was close to Halloween, we wanted the title to be a spooky play on words … I eventually suggested SPOOKHESION and everyone loved it,” said KOHESION’s social media manager and junior public health and women’s, gender and sexuality studies double major Wangare Njuguna.
KOHESION has performed at various Pan-Asian Alliance (PAA) events such as Night Market, Mystique and Chuseok, but this was their first performance as a solo group.
“On the nerdy K-pop side of it, whenever groups become a group, they do a thing called a debut showcase where they go and sing their songs and do their performances,” said junior music and film productions major and the organization’s videographer Mallory McGowan. “We were like … that would be pretty cool for our first year to do our own debut showcase and to be like, ‘this is KOHESION, this is what we do.’”
To promote their debut, the group started posting about the event over two weeks prior on their Instagram account.
Njuguna posted edits that McGowan made of the members alongside singular posts that spelled out “SPOOKHESION” down their Instagram feed, which created a promo similar to how K-pop groups typically announce new albums or tours on their own social media platforms.
“I love how they promoted it online like K-pop groups do. It looked really cool and got me super excited for the show,” said junior history education major Kayleigh LaLumiere.
The theme for the night was “Mischief Madness.” The group set up orange LED lights, leaves and bat cut-outs on and around the stage. They also set up a photo booth and had enough free boba and snacks for the estimated 160 people in attendance.
To choose which songs would be featured, McGowan said, “We threw out every song we could think of K-pop wise that had a dark type of theme or spooky [choreography] and narrowed it down from there.”
The main emcee of the event was Seth Marcelo — a 2022 alum of the group who helped KOHESION get to where it is today. Current KOHESION members McGowan, Njuguna and senior criminology major Makayla Kontoh also stepped in at different times to emcee and bring up the energy in the room.
“We don’t enjoy just performing for others but rather with others,” said KOHESION co-president and sophomore public health major Ankita Samal. “It’s much more fun when the audience also gets to be involved, have fun and be part of the moment.”
During the first few songs, the only engagement from the audience was clapping after the song ended, but with the help of the emcees, people eventually began shouting and dancing along to hype up the performers.
“It was so exciting being able to dance in my seat to songs I knew and to be able to share that with other people who love K-pop just as much as I do,” said junior English major and SPOOKHESION attendee Siobhan Lavery. “It’s already entertaining to watch a live performance, but to watch the showcase and see my friends nailing every dance — knowing how long it must have taken to learn and choreograph — I was so impressed.”
During their encore song, “That That” by PSY, the members of KOHESION ran around the room and engaged with the crowd. Co-President and sophomore math secondary education major Kristen Chow noted it was her favorite song to perform because all of the members were, “just vibing and dancing to the song for fun.”
After the showcase ended, most of the audience stuck around for well over 30 minutes chatting with the members of KOHESION and admiring the showcase.
“I’m proud of what we were able to do, especially as our first event,” said Chow.
The co-presidents were responsible for a lot of the behind-the-scenes work leading up to SPOOKHESION, so they were pleased to see the success of their debut.
Samal added, “[For] an organization who just got recognized, I am super proud of how far we’ve come as a team, and I’m thankful for all our members and everyone who supports us.”