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The beginning of K-Pop dance cover groups in Belgium

K-pop dance covers are expanding steadily. K-pop choreography is so catchy that it has given rise to a culture where fans reproduce the dances of their favorite groups and share them online. The practice has become a real passion for some: they enter competitions, and sometimes even make a career out of it.

It's hard to exactly tell when this subculture was born. But after some Internet research, we find a Billboard article from 2011 that mentions a « trend » for K-pop dance covers. 12 years later, this craze doesn't seem to be fleeting and is even evolving and we can see the birth of variants like the K-Pop Public Challenge, where dancers dance in public. More groups worldwide are dancing, and sometimes are even creating their own choreography.

j-hope 'Chicken Noodle Soup' (feat.Becky G.) - Cover and Choreography by Chicken Squad

In Belgium, it all started around 2012. One of the first groups to post videos on Youtube is A.HO.B from Brussels. We went to meet Merfine, the leader of this mythical group.

BTS 'Danger' - Cover by A.HO.B

Hello, thank you so much for your time. First of all, how did you meet?

Well, my best friend and I have known each other forever, and one year it just so happened that Made In Asia - more specifically the BelgOtaku stand - had launched its first J-pop contest. Patricia and I were immediately thrilled, and I posted an announce online because we needed a girl to do the choreo of « Gee » from Girls Generations (Japanese version). And that's when Mélissa joined up! We won the competition and decided to look at the other groups the following year and suggest that we form a bigger group.

What does your name mean?

A.HO.B comes from "ahob" (ndlr: 아홉) which means « nine » in Korean. There were nine of us when the group was formed :)

What made you want to create a group? What were your motivations?

We've always loved learning to dance as children. When we had the opportunity to perform as a group on stage for our first competition, we knew it was for us. We loved learning choreographies, practicing as a group, filming, finding outfits for our videos and spending time together. We have so many good times, so much fun and laughter.

(We've made ourselves known) through shows and competitions, and especially on YouTube, by making covers of well-known bands shortly after their release, which worked very well. We also shared them on forums and so on.

Before that, K-pop wasn't popular at all. It was even more niche than it is now. Were you able to promote your dance covers?

It was easy to recruit members thanks to Made In Asia, because a lot of fans gathered there. All it took was the courage to approach them :).

Getting the word out? That was done through shows and competitions, and especially on YouTube, by making covers of well-known bands shortly after their release, which worked very well. We also shared them on forums and so on. It was impressive to see that our covers were also seen in Korea, because one of our members was recognized there.

Brave Girls 'Deepened' - Cover by A.HO.B.

What was the biggest challenge for you? Because there wasn't as much dance practice, was it difficult? Or did you find it rather stimulating?

The biggest challenge was getting everyone on the same schedule for rehearsals. Especially as we were all at different levels.

And as for dance practice, in our day, there was still a lot of dance practice, which didn't change the fact that it was difficult, but we were so motivated and enthusiastic that we loved doing it. But when there was no dance practice, people used to make compilations of the concerts so that they could have a video showing all the choreography - for example, with the group f(x).

And what do you think of today's groups? Did you ever think dance cover groups will get this big?

Personally, I'm very impressed. The videos are nothing like the videos of our "generation", if I may say so; they look like real professionals! But yes, I had a feeling it would grow in popularity.

A potential comeback?

Hahahaha we're too old now, but I'd love to do one last cover for fun with some of the members we've lost touch with. I'd love to see them again.

What do you think of the K-Showtime initiative, where participants have the opportunity to take part in battles and a dance contest in which they can showcase their imagination by following a theme?

It's a great idea, a great initiative that can help groups gain visibility and meet other people who have the same attraction to K-pop and dance. It's also great to have an event focused on this, because there were contests at the MIA, but that was just a small part of the show.

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