The Hottest Party Bringing K-Pop to the Club

The Hottest Party Bringing K-Pop to the Club

By Andrew NguyenJan 09, 2024

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, "bias" means "an inclination of temperament or outlook," especially "a personal and sometimes unreasoned judgment." In the world of K-Pop, "bias" means your favorite K-Pop member in a group. It's also the name of the newest party taking over Brooklyn.

Started last year by Brooklyn-based Sammy Kim and KA WAI, BIAS is intended to be a place where K-Pop stans in the city could finally come together and hear their favorite songs, mixed over bumping club beats, watch performances from local queens and partake in their own dance competitions to show off the choreography they learned from their favorite groups. What started at Bushwick's cozy Mood Ring has literally grown worldwide. In just a year, the party has its own merch from Aegyo Apparel, gotten custom performance looks made by LEAK NYC, collaborated with VAPCUCDA in Saigon and had parties at Cakeshop and ACS in Seoul.

Coming right off their one-year anniversary party in the Hall at Elsewhere, PAPER chatted with the co-founders about Bias' humble beginnings, the importance of holding space in nightlife for K-Pop, bringing true joy to the club and taking over the world.

Photography: Marion Aguas

Tell me how Bias started!

KA WAI: I always had this group chat with people, and we’d talk about K-Pop all the time: Who's your bias, the new releases that are coming out and everything like that. It always was in the back of my head like, why can't we kind of merge both the worlds of K-Pop and club music together? The idea was developing in my mind half a year before we actually did our first party. My partner at the time was telling me I should definitely talk to Sammy so we got together.

Sammy Kim: I have hosted a lot of parties, helped with organizing events, go-go’d and performed in drag before. I've always had it in my mind to create my own party. But I didn't really have an idea exactly what that would be. I didn’t want to do it just for the sake of doing it. I wanted to make sure we have the same values and goals and intentions for what we're trying to create. Ka Wai talked about his background and experience as a DJ, being part of the New York underground techno scene and loving K-Pop, and having this interest to really blend these two things that are big parts of both of our lives. We wanted to showcase our Brooklyn talent and friends around us that inspire us.

Photography: Marion Aguas

What was the very first party like?

Sammy Kim: The first party we had was at Mood Ring and even though it wasn't packed, there was still this energy that we were just really surprised by. It was very palpable how excited they were to be at the club and hear K-Pop, but also not just songs that they hear at home on like Spotify. It's blended with techno, house, EDM and whatnot. It feels really fresh and fun.

What’s it been like to see it grow so much in just one year?

Sammy Kim: Our growth so far is that it's been very organic. It’s all through friends and community. This is happening at the exact right time in our lives, but also where K-Pop is in the world as a global phenomenon and how much people really want a space like this.

KA WAI: The community aspect is so important, from the small community that we formed at the first party to our Asia tour, where it was all friends and DJs that I got to meet through my travels. I mean we pulled off a three show tour in Asia not even a year into our existence. That community aspect is so important in everything that we do.

What do you think makes the K-Pop community special?

Sammy Kim: There's already such a big interest and pull with K-Pop in general. There's the music, there's the idols, there's the music videos, and there's the dances and dance challenges that people do. People get to really be invested, but it's mostly through online culture. There aren't many IRL spaces for people to enjoy K-Pop together. That's one reason why we do the fandom dances: We want people to get on stage, dance the choreo to their favorite songs and feel like their own idol for a little bit. K-Pop really is about the music and enjoying.

People at Bias are less invested in the whole nightlife thing, going out to be seen and look cool or just going out just to go out. Oh no. They’re are coming because they are obsessed with these songs and are just geeking the fuck out — not really caring if they're cool or not. It's so endearing and wholesome. It's so important to have fun. That’s our metric of success. I love when I see people on the dance floor and they’re singing their favorite songs together with people next to them. It's an instant way for people to connect.

KA WAI: That's one of the things we really wanted to emphasize because K-Pop has brought so much joy and happiness to our lives through these conversations and these connections that we've made through it. Now we have a physical space where that can be celebrated, and we can go into the space without any judgment and just experience joy.

Photography: Sam Kang

It’s so beautiful and sickening to see you perform with all the girls, too.

Sammy Kim: With K-Pop there are so many rigid structures for how it’s traditionally done. We kind of want to replicate that, but also flip the script, and imbue our own style into it. There's not really any queer representation in K-Pop, or even with Korean beauty standards. It's very standardized. My girls and I, none of us are “Korean beauties.” We all have our own unique style and look and personality. Two of them are dolls, and two of us are faggots, so it feels really cool that we get to be on stage in a way that feels very authentic to us.

Where do you see Bias going in the near future?

KA WAI: We’re definitely going back to Seoul. We had such an amazing time at our two parties there. It was very special coming to Seoul, where K-Pop was created. We're also trying to go to China, some other countries and some different U.S. cities like LA. We want to grow the party and give back to the community that we built it on.

Sammy Kim: We already know we want to go back to Asia. What is it that we can bring to the table beyond New York, from a New York driven background? This party wouldn't have been able to exist without Brooklyn.

Photography: Sam Kang and Marion Aguas