Whether you’re a bonafide fan, casual listener or completely uninterested, there’s no denying the explosion K-Pop has had in the past decade. Groups like BTS and Blackpink have garnered fans all over the world, and Bellingham is no exception.
High Intensity, or Hi10, is Western’s resident K-Pop dance group. Meeting Mondays and Wednesdays from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in Academic West, members of all skill levels come together to learn and perform the choreography to their favorite K-Pop songs.
Savannah Beck, a first-year at Western, said she joined the club as a way to put herself out of her comfort zone as she adjusted to college life.
“The first time I [came to a practice], I didn’t perform in front of everyone because I was too chicken,” Beck said. “But once I did [dance in front of everyone], I realized it wasn’t that bad. If it’s something you want to do but your nerves are stopping you, you just have to go for it.”
This sentiment is echoed by most members of Hi10. Regardless of previous dance experience, anyone who is interested is welcome to join a practice.
Something that sets Hi10 apart from other dance groups is the ability to get an idea of what the choreography might look like before even going to practice.
When a K-Pop group comes out with a new album, they make several appearances on Korean music shows to promote the album with a performance of its title track. These performances are uploaded to YouTube and the choreography goes viral. Fans are quick to learn the moves and post videos of themselves dancing.
First-year Paris Nichols said this aspect of Hi10 makes it feel more like a community than just a dance group.
“It’s fun to walk into a practice and be learning the dance to a song you’ve been singing to for weeks,” she said. “It’s very community building and it feels more personal when you know the song you’re dancing to.”
Western alum Josie Eggerding started Hi10 with a group of friends back in 2017. Their love for K-Pop made them feel ostracized from other clubs, so they decided to take things into their own hands.
“Even in high school, I never had anything like [Hi10],” Eggerding said. “I wanted this, and I found like-minded people who also wanted it, so we just did it.”
Even though all of the original members of Hi10 have graduated, Eggerding still attends practices because of the love they have for the group.
“It makes me so happy that [current members] feel welcome because that’s the whole reason we started the club,” Eggerding said.
Until this year, Hi10 met and performed unofficially. When the club was started back in 2017, the number of members stayed stagnant and there was never much desire to become official.
Hi10 met virtually during the pandemic, when old and new members alike continued to practice over Zoom. When their meetings returned to in-person, they decided that the time was right to become an official club.
Shauna Lynch, the club's dance and activities coordinator, said the decision has helped the club flourish.
“We originally just had our Instagram where we promoted ourselves, but we wanted to continue to grow,” Lynch said. “We also wanted to start doing more stuff like the info fair and our own merchandise.”
Amy Tuffour-Manu is Hi10’s current president. She originally came across Hi10 because she saw them practicing and got curious. She hasn’t looked back since.
“Hi10 gave me the opportunity to explore dance in an environment that wasn’t competitive, yet still allowed me to push myself,” Tuffour-Manu said.
Tuffour-Manu said she took on the club president role because she saw personal growth in herself as a leader and she wanted to spread the joy of dance to others.
It’s showcase season for all the dance teams on campus. Hi10 will be performing as guests at the SINI-HHA x WWUHHDT showcase on Sunday, May 21, 2023, in Western’s Performing Arts Center. You can view their performance at last year’s showcase here.
Aubrey Black (she/they) is a second-year news-ed major at Western. She enjoys making Spotify playlists and perusing used bookstores.
You can contact her at email@example.com.