While many Korean pop (K-pop) stars often skip over Calgary when they tour, Eric Nam broke the norm and performed at the MacEwan Conference and Event Centre on Oct. 30. Nam is a breakout K-pop artist promoting his most recent album, House On A Hill. To celebrate the occasion, local artist, Jeannie Kha, threw a pre-concert party aimed to pump up the the city’s K-pop community before the show.

Kha, also known as JK Charms on social media, along with her co-host, Morgan Sawchuk, organized the event held at The Alley in Calgary’s Chinatown. The occasion offered a fusion of bubble tea, K-pop souvenirs and an all-around memorable experience for fans of Nam and other Korean pop music enthusiasts. Kha and Sawchuk have hosted similar events highlighting their passion for K-pop.

The Eric Nam pre-concert, cupsleeve event took place at The Alley, a bubble tea shop located in Calgary’s Chinatown. PHOTO: MARIAM KHAN

A unique aspect of the gathering is the concept of cupsleeves — a celebration of an artist’s birthday, anniversary or achievement. In this case, Kha and Sawchuk’s commemorated Nam’s tour in Calgary by offering cupsleeves that feature the chosen musician’s image which are used to decorate beverage cups.

Kha is thrilled having the opportunity to spur on a sense of community, but also happy to support local businesses. “We partner with the bubble tea shop [The Alley]. It boosts the small business,” said Kha. 

Attendees also got freebie packs with any drink purchased from the shop.

“We just wanted to do something extra special to make up for the disappointment last time.”

Jeannie kha

The well-attended cupsleeve event signified the growth of Calgary’s K-pop community, and Kha is enthusiastic about expanding the fanbase even more.

“We’re starting to build a more inclusive fanbase, including various artists in the K-pop scene. We’re starting to expand more just because it’s not common in Calgary. We’re lacking that fan culture here,” said Kha.

In 2022 K-poppers were eager for Nam to perform in the city, but with COVID and it restrictions his show was postponed. The cupsleeve pre-party at The Alley marked a joyous lead-up to the highly anticipated concert and compensated for the original let-down, securing a special place in the hearts of K-pop fans as it celebrated Nam’s long-overdue appearance in Calgary.

“We just wanted to do something extra special to make up for the disappointment last time,” said Kha.

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