Over two and a half years ago, in October of 2019, BTS wrapped their massive “Love Yourself: Speak Yourself” tour at the Jamsil Olympic Stadium in Seoul. It was, by all accounts, a joyful night — the act was in a sweet spot at the time, selling out stadiums around the world and balancing on the cusp of truly cracking the American mainstream. Their collective star was definitively on the rise.
While the pandemic failed to really deter that trajectory, BTS did have to do a bit of course-correction over the past few years. The cancellation of their “Map of the Soul: 7” stadium tour has yielded an era of mini-residencies, like their four record-shattering 2021 nights in Los Angeles and the upcoming stint in Las Vegas, but today, March 10th, 2022, was the first time the group has been able to perform in their home city of Seoul since that 2019 evening. (Regrettably, this writer could not attend in person, but tuned in via livestream.)
The title for this collective era of shows — “PERMISSION TO DANCE” — was bittersweet and sadly ironic for the audience members in South Korea, who have been waiting so patiently to see the act at home. Members of the BTS ARMY in attendance in person didn’t actually have permission to dance — due to ongoing COVID-19 protocol, cheering, yelling, and dancing were prohibited as a measure for curbing the possibility of transmitting the airborne virus.
While the seven members (RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V, and Jungkook) made mention of the circumstances multiple times, it was clear that their return to that very stage at Jamsil Olympic Stadium was still well worth the wait.