With the mixture of Texas pride and an interest in Korean culture, K-Pop fans in Texas have created a new fan culture that fuses fashion, cuisine, and pop culture from each region into one.
The enthusiasm of K-Pop fans in Texas has left a noticeable impact on the genre and the fan culture. Fans are known for dressing in Cowboy-styled clothing, gifting customized cowboy hats to their favorite artists and several groups have taken inspiration from that by releasing albums with a Texas themed concept.
“Specifically for their music videos, I can literally tell you off the top of my head like five music videos that have wild West saloon or cowboy hats in them… Seventeen’s “Hot,” Monsta X’s “Rush Hour,” NCT’s “Sticker,” Ateez’s “Bouncy,” said Ku Reyes, who has been a fan of K-Pop since 2012. “…They probably do take a little bit of that Western kind of flair that Texas is known for because even if you don’t know Texas, you know, like the cowboy hat like it’s everywhere. It’s like a staple of Texas. So they probably take that into their music, definitely for inspiration, into their videos.”
These releases with cowboy aesthetics also embrace the energy that Texas fans have at concerts. With upbeat instrumentals and chant-worthy lyrics, it is the perfect combination for a song that is reminiscent to groups’ audiences in Texas.
“The crowds are a lot more rowdy as well and I love that! Texan K-Pop fans truly know how to have a good time,” said Jess Flanegin, an Ohio based K-Pop fan, who frequents shows in cities such as Houston and San Antonio.
In countries like South Korea, the concert culture is much different than in the United States. Korean fans memorize “fan chants” and cheer in a more uniform style. The contrast with Texas audiences allows K-Pop groups to experience the best of both places.
“I think what idols probably enjoy the most about coming to Texas is the fact that we’re so loud,” said Reyes. “And I mean that in such a good way like, so when I saw Enhypen in Houston, I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh! This is so loud!’ and then, like I saw Blackpink in Dallas, and I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh! This is so loud!”
Another aspect of K-Pop and Texas coming together is through food. Texan’s take pride in southern hospitality, Tex-Mex, and BBQ, which gets shared with K-Pop groups and out-of-state fans visiting the area as well. South Korea is also well know for it’s Korean-style BBQ and their fried chicken. These two cultures that enjoy sharing meals and eating grilled food, create an unique and diverse atmosphere that might have gone unnoticed if it was not for the popularity of K-Pop in Texas.
“The fans love to ask idols if they’ve gone to places like Buc-ee’s or especially Whataburger…,” said Ariana Payne, a Texas K-Pop fan since 2018. “Which, of course, you can do these things in other states but it’s not gonna feel as immersive, as you would in Texas, where everyone is very Southern.”
Even though every state is known for a special food, the experience that goes along with eating Texas food, is what makes the culture stand out from the rest.
“I’ve seen K-Pop groups in multiple different states and I think what makes each experience unique are the crowds they bring in,” said Flanegin. “I enjoy getting to see the idol’s interactions with the different crowds- like talking about how much they enjoyed Texas BBQ or Chicago style pizza- and I hope they can create awesome memories, as well as the fans.”
Because of the high demand for K-Pop groups to travel abroad for concerts, lesser known groups have begun adding multiple stops in Texas on their tours. Tapping into the potential from international fans, allows K-Pop groups to build a fanbase that they might not have initially gotten in South Korea.
This year, the girl group, PIXY, had four stops in Texas: Austin, San Antonio, Houston, and Dallas. As well as the boy group, Together X Tomorrow (TXT for short,) being the first K-Pop act to perform at AT&T Center in San Antonio. They held a concert there for two nights, that were nearly sold out.
“I would probably say some of my favorite memories or experiences this year as a Texas K-Pop fan is probably just the amount of concerts that Texas got this year…,” said Reyes. “…There was a variety of different groups that came and that you had options like Houston or San Antonio or Dallas or Fort Worth.”
As the popularity of K-Pop rises in Texas, fans all around the state will have more options to support their groups and attend concerts.
Even though many K-Pop tours are winding down in the U.S as the year ends, there are still a few events coming up in Texas.