Chinatown Square Plaza turns into a dance floor for youth festival

The K-pop Random Dance event was part of the first “Youth of Chinatown,” a three-day festival that aims to connect young people across different cultures.

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K-pop fans participate in K-Pop Random Dance, where people jump into the circle to dance together whenever they hear songs they know the choreography of, during “Youth of Chinatown,” a three-day event featuring hip-hop and K-pop performances at Chinatown Square Plaza, Saturday, Aug. 27, 2022.

K-pop fans participate in K-Pop Random Dance, where people jump into the circle to dance together whenever they hear songs they know the choreography of, during “Youth of Chinatown,” a three-day event featuring hip-hop and K-pop performances at Chinatown Square Plaza, Saturday, Aug. 27, 2022.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Dozens of K-pop and hip-hop fans turned Chinatown Square Plaza into a dance floor Saturday as they grooved to the beats of BTS, BLACKPINK, Psy, Nelly Furtado, Missy Elliott and other K-pop and hip-hop artists.

For the K-pop portion, songs were played at random and people who knew the song’s choreography jumped into a circle, moving in sync even though many had never danced together before.

Sarah Kuwahara, 16, who traveled for the event from Hoffman Estates, was one of those fans who knew the moves to almost all songs played. She said she first got into K-pop by BLACKPINK’s choreography on her own in quarantine. Now she frequently joins random dance events to perform with fellow fans across Chicago.

K-Pop Random Dance Chinatown Square Plaza Chicago

K-pop fans participate in K-Pop Random Dance, where people jump into the circle to dance together whenever they hear songs they know the choreography of, during “Youth of Chinatown,” a three-day event featuring hip-hop and K-pop performances at Chinatown Square Plaza, Saturday, Aug. 27, 2022.

Pat Nabong / Sun-Times file

The K-pop Random Dance event was part of the first “Youth of Chinatown,” a three-day festival that features hip-hop and K-pop performances that aims to connect people across different cultures and create a community space, according to organizer Felicia Jia.

“As we think about how Chinatown is developing... it is a hub of course for food, and people love coming here for boba, but I think Youth of Chinatown really came about because we needed a community space where, you know, especially Asian American youth and youth of other cultures, can come experience Chinatown just aside from these businesses,” Jia said. “I think hip-hop and K-pop are two big components of youth culture that bring people together, and what better way to use the Chinatown space than to make two dance parties, right?”

Emmylina O’Brien, 16, performs during “Youth of Chinatown,” a three-day event featuring hip-hop and K-pop performances at Chinatown Square Plaza, Saturday, Aug. 27, 2022. O’Brien said she attends K-Pop Random Dance events, where people jump into a circle to dance together whenever they hear a song they know the choreography of, across Chicago.

Emmylina O’Brien, 16, performs during “Youth of Chinatown,” a three-day event featuring hip-hop and K-pop performances at Chinatown Square Plaza, Saturday, Aug. 27, 2022. O’Brien said she attends K-Pop Random Dance events, where people jump into a circle to dance together whenever they hear a song they know the choreography of, across Chicago.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

A hip-hop dancer performs during “Youth of Chinatown,” a three-day event featuring hip-hop and K-pop performances at Chinatown Square Plaza, Saturday, Aug. 27, 2022. | Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

A hip-hop dancer performs during “Youth of Chinatown,” a three-day event featuring hip-hop and K-pop performances at Chinatown Square Plaza, Saturday, Aug. 27, 2022.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

K-pop fans participate in K-Pop Random Dance, where people jump into the circle to dance together whenever they hear songs they know the choreography of, during “Youth of Chinatown,” a three-day event featuring hip-hop and K-pop performances at Chinatown Square Plaza, Saturday, Aug. 27, 2022.

K-pop fans participate in K-Pop Random Dance, where people jump into the circle to dance together whenever they hear songs they know the choreography of, during “Youth of Chinatown,” a three-day event featuring hip-hop and K-pop performances at Chinatown Square Plaza, Saturday, Aug. 27, 2022.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

K-pop fans laugh while participating in K-pop Random Dance, where people jump into a circle to dance together whenever they hear a song they known the choreography of, during “Youth of Chinatown,” a three-day event featuring hip-hop and K-pop performances at Chinatown Square Plaza, Saturday, Aug. 27, 2022.

K-pop fans laugh while participating in K-pop Random Dance, where people jump into a circle to dance together whenever they hear a song they known the choreography of, during “Youth of Chinatown,” a three-day event featuring hip-hop and K-pop performances at Chinatown Square Plaza, Saturday, Aug. 27, 2022.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

A spectator tries to learn a K-pop dance as K-pop fans participate in K-pop Random Dance, where people jump into a circle to dance together whenever they hear a song they know the choreography of, during “Youth of Chinatown,” a three-day event featuring hip-hop and K-pop performances at Chinatown Square Plaza, Saturday, Aug. 27, 2022.

A spectator tries to learn a K-pop dance as K-pop fans participate in K-pop Random Dance, where people jump into a circle to dance together whenever they hear a song they know the choreography of, during “Youth of Chinatown,” a three-day event featuring hip-hop and K-pop performances at Chinatown Square Plaza, Saturday, Aug. 27, 2022.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

A hip-hop dancer performs during “Youth of Chinatown,” a three-day event featuring hip-hop and K-pop performances at Chinatown Square Plaza, Saturday, Aug. 27, 2022.

A hip-hop dancer performs during “Youth of Chinatown,” a three-day event featuring hip-hop and K-pop performances at Chinatown Square Plaza, Saturday, Aug. 27, 2022.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

People cheer as a hip-hop dancer performs during “Youth of Chinatown,” a three-day event featuring hip-hop and K-pop performances at Chinatown Square Plaza, Saturday, Aug. 27, 2022.

People cheer as a hip-hop dancer performs during “Youth of Chinatown,” a three-day event featuring hip-hop and K-pop performances at Chinatown Square Plaza, Saturday, Aug. 27, 2022.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Michelle Chang, 17, participates in K-pop Random Dance, where people jump into a circle to dance together whenever they hear a song they know the choreography of, during “Youth of Chinatown,” a three-day event featuring hip-hop and K-pop performances at Chinatown Square Plaza, Saturday, Aug. 27, 2022. Chang, who just moved from Ohio where she said K-pop events are rare, added that dancing with other people rather than watching performances online elevates the experience.

Michelle Chang, 17, participates in K-pop Random Dance, where people jump into a circle to dance together whenever they hear a song they know the choreography of, during “Youth of Chinatown,” a three-day event featuring hip-hop and K-pop performances at Chinatown Square Plaza, Saturday, Aug. 27, 2022. Chang, who just moved from Ohio where she said K-pop events are rare, added that dancing with other people rather than watching performances online elevates the experience.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

merlin_107751510.jpg

Sarah Kuwahara, 16, participates in K-pop Random Dance, where people jump into a circle to dance together whenever they hear a song they know the choreography of, during “Youth of Chinatown,” a three-day event featuring hip-hop and K-pop performances at Chinatown Square Plaza, Saturday, Aug. 27, 2022.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

A hip-hop dancer performs during “Youth of Chinatown,” a three-day event featuring hip-hop and K-pop performances at Chinatown Square Plaza, Saturday, Aug. 27, 2022.

A hip-hop dancer performs during “Youth of Chinatown,” a three-day event featuring hip-hop and K-pop performances at Chinatown Square Plaza, Saturday, Aug. 27, 2022.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Spectators film K-pop fans as they participate in K-Pop Random Dance, where people jump into the circle to dance together whenever they hear songs they know the choreography to, during “Youth of Chinatown,” a three-day event featuring hip-hop and K-pop performances at Chinatown Square Plaza, Saturday, Aug. 27, 2022.

Spectators film K-pop fans as they participate in K-Pop Random Dance, where people jump into the circle to dance together whenever they hear songs they know the choreography to, during “Youth of Chinatown,” a three-day event featuring hip-hop and K-pop performances at Chinatown Square Plaza, Saturday, Aug. 27, 2022.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Moon the Giant performs during “Youth of Chinatown,” a three-day event featuring hip-hop and K-pop performances at Chinatown Square Plaza, Saturday, Aug. 27, 2022.

Moon the Giant performs during “Youth of Chinatown,” a three-day event featuring hip-hop and K-pop performances at Chinatown Square Plaza, Saturday, Aug. 27, 2022.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

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