On June 23rd, a balmy, Sunday in Los Angeles, over 450 BTS ARMY gathered to attend the first ever BTS ARMY CON presented by BTS Galaxy. BTS Galaxy, a multifaceted BTS fanbase coalition dedicated to planning events for ARMY in Los Angeles, organized the event for ARMY who could not attend the 5th Muster in South Korea. Instead of enjoying Festa through social media and the Vlive stream, BTS fans got to enjoy each other’s company in person while celebrating the fandom itself through many different avenues. The BTS ARMY CON venue itself was separated into three parts that showcased the thoughtful, entertaining, and physical outlets that joined ARMY together. Various BTS fan artists gathered to sell their Bangtan-inspired pins, prints, jewelry, and keychains. And if fans weren’t supporting fellow ARMY through purchasing those creations, they were buying food from the famous Kogi BBQ Food Truck.
In addition to shopping, ARMY experienced extensive programming catered by different parts of the fandom. The main gymnasium area held a Youtuber panel featuring Terry Brown (BRISxLife) and Cai Ping (Paws2012) as well as a cosplay competition hosted by actor, Aubrey Miller. The notable special guests in attendance prompted many fans to take selfies with them in front of the purple BTS Galaxy step & repeat.Makeup enthusiast Mariah Jenae showcased VT Cosmetics products donated by VT Cosmetics Pink Place to recreate a “Boy With Luv” makeup look for attendees to observe. Even ARMY theorist, xCeleste, Skyped in to discuss the theories surrounding the latest releases regarding the Bangtan Universe, specifically pertaining to the recent BTS Notes, Webtoon, and Japanese “Lights” music video.
The workshop room, meant for smaller, more intimate discussions, held seminars hosted by organizations like of ARMY Magazine, a BTS fanbase that releases monthly longform, digital issues analyzing the group’s musical eras. Jungian psychologist and author of Map of the Soul – Persona: Our Many Faces, Dr. Murray Stein skyped in from Switzerland to discuss what his life has been like since hearing that his work inspired BTS as well as other involved topics involving the many different sides of the ‘self.’ Stein suspected that the next chapter of the Map of the Soul era would delve into the shadow, which is deemed the opposite of the persona. South African LGBTQ+ activist and journalist, Luke Waltham, skyped in as well as Tiffany Helton from ARMY Help Centre to discuss the various ways ARMY can continue towards the path of being unique while still learning to love themselves. Young adult fans stood in front of the workshop expressing the hardships they experienced in their adolescent lives, and as ARMY, they ultimately relayed their process of appreciating themselves despite the past setbacks.
Although the downstairs area of the venue comprised in depth discussions or more serious topics, the upstairs dance studio proved to be the most popular as many attendees filled the small studio to learn five different BTS choreographies throughout the day taught by dance crews like K2O, Squarex1, Follow Up, and Team Nova. For those not in attendance for the fun-filled day, US BTS ARMY sponsored BTS ARMY CON with a Twitch stream for ARMY to enjoy the event remotely amounting to 300+ views globally. Towards the end of the event, more sponsors like Fever Guys and Jersey Mike’s contributed items such as large, bountiful Snack Fever boxes into the silent auction and raffle. Instead of using the profits for their own gain, BTS Galaxy partnered with One In An ARMY, a BTS fanbase dedicated to educating and encouraging ARMY to donate to small global non-profits that need the financial help, to donate the profits from BTS ARMY CON to the International Railroad for Queer Refugees(IRQR) in honor of Pride Month.
The event proved to show that despite Muster happening in South Korea, BTS ARMY will gather to celebrate each other and their beloved group no matter what, and maybe next year BTS ARMY CON will host the septet themselves.