Over 200 students attended RRCSA’s first large post-pandemic event

By: Angel Pangilinan

On Oct. 7, The Cave Lounge welcomed 239 guests through its doors for K-Pop Night. While the free student admission attracted many Red River College Polytechnic students, many of the attendees were not students.

“I wasn’t sure how it’d go since this is our first big event back, and a lot of people are still hesitant about going out,” Jemma Ignacio, student life director at Red River College Students’ Association (RRCSA), said. “Now that we’re back, we really wanted to go all out.” 

Hosted by the RRCSA, the evening featured performances from DJ DOMMI and local K-pop dance team, Galax-E. K-Pop Night was one of RRCSA’s first big events after the pandemic for the 2022/2023 school year.

RRCSA created K-Pop Night in response to numerous event suggestions it received before the pandemic. When COVID-19 brought all in-person events to a halt, plans for K-Pop Night were postponed indefinitely. 

Dance group Galax-E takes the stage a second time at K-Pop Night to lead the crowd in dancing to “BANG BANG BANG” by South Korean pop group, BIG BANG. (Angel Pangilinan)

South Korean pop music, also known as K-pop, has experienced tremendous international growth in recent years. In a 2021 industry report, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry observed that the South Korean music industry experienced a record-breaking 44.8 per cent growth in the previous year.

“I wish we had something like K-Pop Night back when I was in school, though it would’ve just been me and my friends,” said Samantha “SamSam” Wiebe, Galax-E’s leader and RRC Polytech 2011 alumni.

Wiebe helped found the K-pop dance group Galax-E in 2017. Shortly after the group’s inception, Galax-E began performing K-pop dance covers at Asian cultural events, though there wasn’t a dedicated audience for K-pop in Winnipeg at the time.

There’s a lot more demand for K-Pop now, Wiebe said. “As it’s become easier to access, it’s grown.” The weekend of K-Pop Night, Galax-E performed at several other Winnipeg events, including K-Pop Club Night and the Winnipeg Chinatown Night Market. 

“There are different things to like — the dancing, the music. Not everyone will like the same thing, but there’s something for everyone,” said Aliyah Bedard, a K-Pop Night attendee.

Dominique Geli, also known by her stage name DJ DOMMI, treated K-Pop Night guests to music by various South Korean artists including BTS, Blackpink, Twice, SEVENTEEN, Stray Kids, and Big Bang.

“People can connect with the music regardless of language barriers,” said Irah Amper, another K-Pop Night attendee.
K-Pop Night’s success has inspired other music themed events from RRCSA.

“We’re thinking of doing Latin, Bollywood, and 2000s music theme nights as well,” Ignacio said.