When 24K announced they were returning to Europe I was over the moon – until I realised that they weren’t coming to England this time. I was desperate to see them again but with my trip to Asia coming up this year I did wonder about giving it a miss. Or… Going to one of the shows and sleeping at the airport to do it on the cheap. Luckily I received quite a good tax return this year meaning I could turn all that into spending money for Asia and book my flights, hotel and ticket for the concert guilt free.
I debated about which show to go to but in the end settled on Paris because wherever I went I wouldn’t have much time to sightsee and I’ve already been to Paris and am going again in October. Plus it was the closest country to England so it seemed like a good idea. I got a bit excited and booked my flights and hotel before the tickets were even released.
Buying the tickets was a bit of a nightmare – they went on sale at 5PM UK time and I was debating staying at work to book them but luckily decided to leave work early to buy them at home. Just as well because the website went extremely slowly causing quite a bit of stress. I was going out with my friends that night and had to be showered and ready to go to Hirst’s for 7:30PM. Becca came to mine at about 7:10PM and as she stressed about her make-up I was still stressing about the tickets – with five minutes to spare before we were meant to leave I managed to secure a gold ticket and headed out to have a good time safe in the knowledge that everything was now sorted.
I decided to fly to Paris the day before the concert so I could get rested and that was good ‘cos it meant I could take three days off work instead of two. I’d asked my friends Becca and Jess if they wanted to come but neither of them had the holiday or the money so I had to set off on my own. On a plane. And I’m an extremely nervous flyer.
I had already flown to Poland by myself earlier on this year but I was still terrified at the thought of another flight alone and didn’t help myself by showing up at the airport way too early. I’d gone through security and had lunch with another two hours left to spare before my flight. I managed to distract myself by watching Friends episodes on my phone until finally it was time! Luckily I was sat next to one of the nicest women I’ve met in my life who told me she was a nervous flyer but actually spent most of her time comforting me on the way over! She kept calling me her little sister and tried to teach me some French but I was a bit useless and don’t remember most of it.
Arriving at Charles de Gaulle was just as stressful because the airport was massive and I found it difficult to navigate and then I had the travel ticket stress. The machine wanted me to pay 50 euros for a three day ticket but I wasn’t sure if it was the right type anyway. In the end I found a lady who sold me a week pass for 25 euros but told me I’d need to stick a little photo of myself on the travel card. She seemed genuinely surprised to find out I don’t carry a little photo of myself around with me and told me I’d need to get one. I didn’t bother; I didn’t really use the metro that much anyway.
I’d been worried I’d find the trains a bit difficult on my own but I’d had experience on the French metro with my friends and it was relatively easy to navigate so I got to my hotel quite quickly. It was a nice hotel, it was clean and I felt safe but unfortunately the room was stifling hot so I didn’t get the best night’s sleep. But I was still up bright and early the next day to get to the venue for the first check-in!
I got there at 11:20 and there were already quite a few fans there and I knew I had to get a number but I wasn’t sure who to ask and I felt a bit intimidated so I just sat on my own and waited to see what happened. About five or ten minutes later 24K themselves walked down the steps I’d just been down and headed into the venue. I tweeted about it but shout out to the French 24U who were obviously excited about seeing the boys but kept their distance and didn’t scream at them as they came down. A few people tried to take pictures but put their phones/cameras away when the manager asked them not to.
I eventually saw a family going up to get their numbers so I plucked up the courage to go and get mine and a really nice staff member explained to me in English about the fan projects, when things were happening etc. She was actually amazing, she’d come down the queue every so often and give updates or instructions in French, look at me and remember I spoke English and translated it for me. I didn’t get her name but she had dip-dyed blue hair and she was fab!
At 11:30 we all queued up for ‘check-in’ which took a while and then we waited for the selfie tickets to go on sale at 12. I somehow got adopted by the family who had gotten their numbers just before me – they didn’t speak any English but when they saw I was alone they offered to stay with me and we got by with our limited understanding of each other’s languages and gestures. The Mom even bought me a bottle of water and nothing for her kids – you know like in Harry Potter when Ron’s Mom treats Harry like the favourite child? It was like that. They were with a little kid and 24K gave her a lot of attention, she was really sweet and absolutely deserved it.
My plan had been to grab my selfie tickets at 12 then do a little sightseeing before having to come back for the 2:30 check-in. This was super optimistic as the tickets didn’t go on sale until about 1PM and then it took another hour to actually buy them. I went for Cory, Jeonguk and Hongseob as I couldn’t afford every members. I’m really glad selfie tickets were an option this year but queuing for them was not fun as we had to queue outside and it was boiling hot.
I was so tired and hungry after that that I got some food at the burger stand opposite the venue and was soon joined by the French family who had some food too. The fan sign was supposed to be starting at 3 so I went to rejoin the queue but unfortunately this was delayed too and due to the size of the room that the fan sign was in we had to queue outside again, right by the river with no shade. I wouldn’t have minded too much but I was alone again at this point so I had no one to hold my space while I got myself some water. In the end I had to take the chance and ran over to buy myself two bottles because I was dying. By the time I got back the boys were in the room and we were being sat inside in about groups of 6 – 10.
Luckily I made friends with the three girls next to me in the queue who were all super nice. Their first language was French but they also spoke English so they mainly spoke to each other in French as that was their comfortable language then translated the important parts for me and if there were any announcements they kept me updated.
I was nervous about the fan sign because I was low-key (high-key) hoping the boys would remember me from the London fan meet (which I wrote about here). The night had meant so much to me that I was kind of hoping they’d remember. But unfortunately I realised they didn’t when I handed my album with my name on it to Cory and he asked me if he was pronouncing my name correctly.
I’ll be honest and say I was a little disappointed at the time but I’m kind of over it now ‘cos like to me it meant a lot but to them I guess they were just doing their job. Like when I worked at Blists Hill and people had their weddings and stuff… I don’t remember any of the brides names even though it was their special day or anything? It would’ve been nice to be remembered but they meet a lot of people so I’m not upset that they didn’t. I was in the moment a little bit but not anymore.
Cory signed my album, held my hand and said he hoped I had a good time so I thanked him and moved on to the next member which was Jeonguk. He attempted pronouncing my name, held my hand and then… The person next to me was still talking to Changsun so I couldn’t move over. So Jeonguk just looked at me without saying anything and I got so nervous that I started laughing. He gave me a weird look so I laughed harder ‘cos it was so awkward and I managed to say “It’s nice to meet you… Again” and finally the person next to me had moved on so he smiled at me and pushed my album down to Changsun.
He was really sweet, he made sure he was pronouncing my name correct and then held my hand before pushing it down to Jinhong. Jinhong had intimidated the fuck out of me last time but my interaction with him this year was nicer. I was wearing a t-shirt with two cats sat on a banana and it said ‘banana’ at the bottom so him and Changsun, who was free, both started saying ‘ban-AN-a’ and I didn’t really know what to say so I just laughed. I held his hand too and then he pushed the album down to Kiyong.
Kiyong’s the new member and I’m quite proud of 24U for being so welcoming of him – I love Red Velvet and the fandom but there are still people who bitch about the fact Yeri was added to the group whereas when Kiyong was announced everybody loved him before we even had any photos or information about him. He’s so cute, he checked the pronunciation of my name too (a common theme) and held my hand. It was nice to meet him for the first time and he’s honestly so sweet.
He pushed my album down to Hongseob and it was mostly the same, checking the pronunciation of my name, hand-holding and then he made the ‘ban-AN-a’ comment as I was walking off so I laughed. Then we had to head back outside to queue up again for the hi-touch and group photo.
Although it was torture standing outside in the heat to queue up for things I don’t blame Skey Ace for it. At the last minute there was a venue change and I think they did their best in the circumstances they were given – it was a strange venue but I’d have been fucked if they’d arranged it for a different date or something so I’m glad they got a different venue and made it work. It just sucked going back outside because by the time I got back in my face was tomato red and it just wasn’t an attractive look.
It was nice making friends with the three girls as they offered to go and get two of us some water while we watched their spaces so it made the queue a lot better especially since we were all freaking out about the fan sign. It felt like we waited a bit less this time and we were soon heading in for the hi-touch. I ended up being second in the line which I wasn’t a fan of and nearly ended up going first because I thought the girl in front of me wasn’t going to.
Maybe it was because of the delays or number of things going on but things felt a bit more rushed this year than at the London Fan Meet and this time at the hi-touch the boys just went for hi-fives instead of holding hands. Which like is fine, it was still good! The girl in front of me ended up apologising to Jinhong so I had to stand awkwardly behind her for a while which was weird.
Then we went around for the group photo and two people could stand at the ends and one girl ran in front of us to stand by Cory and I’m so awkward that I just kneeled anywhere on the floor ‘cos I didn’t wanna be a nuisance. The photos won’t be released until after the tour but I probably look a right mess and I have no idea who I was in front of – I have a feeling it was Jeonguk but I won’t know until they’re released.
After the group photo we queued up outside again to wait for the selfie event. One of the girls I was with told me that at the other venues the selfie event had been held in private rooms so it was just you, the member and some of the staff obviously. She asked one of the staff if this was the case here and we were told no all the members would be in the same room.
It was a bit weird to be honest, the members were just dotted around the room and you handed in your selfie ticket at the desk, they shouted out who you had a selfie with and this woman held onto my arm for a moment and then kind of just left me without doing anything. There were obviously other fans in the room but Cory had just finished up a selfie so I went over and handed him my phone and he was like “Hey! Let’s do this!” I like the selfie but as it was my first one I’m at my most red and I don’t like my face in it.
It was awkward to navigate the room because it wasn’t very big and you were kind of just left to find the members by yourself. Jeonguk was next to Cory so I headed over to him and he was drinking some water and I felt bad ‘cos the moment I approached him he tried to quickly finish up. I think I liked this selfie the best and I set it as my phone background.
Then I headed over to Hongseob who was just finishing up with somebody else and that selfie came out good too. I thanked him and turned around and bumped into Kiyong and I feel awful because he smiled and was like “Hi!” To be honest I’m not sure the staff would’ve known whether I’d had a ticket for him or not so I could’ve just gone for it but that would’ve been rude and unfair so I awkwardly smiled back and headed out of the room because that was all my selfies that I’d paid for.
Luckily after that we didn’t have to go back outside we could head downstairs into the venue and we had to sit down whilst waiting for them which was a bit awkward but also a blessing as we got downstairs at about 6:45 and the concert didn’t start until 8. Most of the safety announcements were in French but I was still nearby one of the girls from the queue so she very kindly translated everything for me. She was fab but I didn’t get anybody’s names so if the girl in the yellow top who hung around with the awkward British girl is reading this, you were fab and thank you for being so nice! Unfortunately we had to move so we got split up a bit and I ended up by a group of girls who said something to me and when I replied they were like “Oh My God, you’re British too!” and I ended up chilling with them most of the night. It turned out we’d been to the exact same 24K concerts last year – both London shows and the Amsterdam one!
Eventually the boys came out and were full of energy as per usual. I can’t remember the entire set-list but I’m pretty sure they opened with ‘Superfly’. They performed a few songs then went off stage to change while a video played. We were told that in order for all fans to see we had to sit down while the videos were playing which you can imagine was a bit awkward but the videos were worth it. Kisu had prepared a video of him singing ‘To for You’ as a surprise as he couldn’t attend the concert himself.
After the video 24K came back and performed a couple of songs before starting the Q&A. At first Jinhong read the questions out in English and the members would reply in Korean or some English and this was then translated to French by one of the staff. Cory told us he was losing his voice so he didn’t take as much part in the Q&A as he usually would do. Hongseob was hilarious and kept saying “Next Question! Fast Q&A!” Then Jinhong gave the piece of paper with the questions to the translator so at this point I didn’t understand much as the questions were in French and their Korean answers were translated to French. Me and the other Brits I was with tried to understand the questions but it was a bit hopeless, however the cheers from the French 24U’s suggested that the answers were good.
There were more songs and units – vocal unit, dance unit, hip-hop unit. I remember Jeonguk dancing to Black Pink’s ‘DDU-DU DDU-DU’ which was lit as fuck. They sang my favourites ‘Hey You’ and ‘Only You’. During ‘Blue’ we all put a yellow post-it note over our phone torches and waved them in the air then when they came out for the encore and performed the Bonnie n Clyde remix we all had banners to wave. I love fan projects like that.
I was sad when the concert ended but was also low-key relieved ‘cos I could grab some water and I was eager to get back to my hotel and put my pyjamas on. I swear my legs were just pure sweat and denim at this point, it had been such a hot day. I literally sat in front of the hotel rooms’ air con drinking water for like half-an-hour when I got back, it was such a relief.
Also I managed to completely destroy my handbag. I’d popped some chocolate bars into the bottom of the bag in case I got hungry during the day but unfortunately my bag was so full of stuff that I couldn’t reach them. I do remember giving one a feel in the queue and they were very squishy so I decided to deal with them when I got back. They had melted so badly out of the packet that they were all over my stuff. Luckily my book had been at the bottom and that took the most damage because I had slipped my signed Bonnie n Clyde album in there but as it was at the top it didn’t get any chocolate on it. I managed to save everything except for the charger for my battery pack and the bag itself. It was brand new and when I got back to the UK I had to go back to Primark to buy one of the exact same kind. I was honestly gutted.
I’m so glad I went, it was definitely worth the money and I’m already counting down the days until their next Europe tour so I can see them again. Should hopefully be after me and my friends go to Asia and assuming I’m still in employment I should be able to travel again if necessary. Here’s hoping that’s not necessary and they come to the UK next time but I’ll still travel if they don’t!
What I loved the most about this tour the most was probably the fans – when I went to the London Fan Meet I found that nobody really spoke to me in the queue or inside and I felt pretty lonely even though I’d obviously loved the actual Fan Meet itself. But this time tons of people went out of their way to stop me from feeling lonely, even if they didn’t speak my language. It was worth it just for that I think.