BTS Permission to Dance Las Vegas – D1

*Author’s Note: Hello! This is Sienna, from the future! I underestimated how much time I would have each day to write my journal entries in Las Vegas, however I did manage to take plenty of photos. I am backdating the Vegas entries but it’s worth making a note to say that I am writing each entry now that I’m back home in the UK.

The morning of the concert, our hotel room was in a tizzy. Hair driers on full blast, shaky hands applying winged eyeliner and glitter to wide eyes, repeatedly glancing at the clock as our departure time snuck up on us. Since we had soundcheck tickets, our call time at the stadium was actually for two o’clock as opposed to the four o’clock time that everyone else had. We piled into a lyft and joined the throng of cars packed full of ARMY heading toward the newly built stadium shimmering in the distance.

The weather forecast was sunny with a UV index of eight, and it wasn’t until the following day that I would realise that my scalp got sunburned in the five minutes we walked from the drop off zone to the stadium. Luckily, the lack of humidity actually made the heat hardly noticeable at the time.

We found our way through the snaking lines, admiring other ARMYs outfits and costumes and excitedly talking amongst ourselves about what we thought soundcheck would be like. The security process went smoothly for our group, each of us carrying a clear stadium-approved purse or backpack in accordance with the guidelines. Once we passed through security we collected our soundcheck freebies (a set of badges, hair ties, a fabric mask, photo cards, and a rubber wristband) we found the sign for our section and joined that queue.

If there’s one thing you need to know about being ARMY it’s how to wait in line, and that’s exactly what we did. We sat down and drank water for a while, thankful that we were seated underneath the stadium’s large shadow. A few times we had to stand up and tighten up the line a little bit and it was clear how we were all getting anxious to enter the stadium. Finally, the lines began to move for real and we made our way inside to our seats. Our group was in the eighth row from the stage!

I’ve only ever been to one soundcheck event before and that was for Carly Rae Jepsen when she came to London right before the pandemic. BTS’ soundcheck is quite a lot different in that we had assigned seating as per our tickets, and we had to keep our masks on the entire time. Another rule was that we weren’t allowed to use our phones or else we would be escorted out of the venue. More waiting happened and we talked with the ARMYs around us and nervously sipped water and ate peanuts.

Then, they came out on the stage from the right hand side. Each member held their microphone in their hand, all of them dressed casually. ARMYs went wild. The first song they sang was Dope, then Life Goes On, and finally Boy With Luv. As they sang and moved around on stage for soundcheck, the overall vibe was so chill and positive. It was clear that they were taken aback by our enthusiasm, too! As soon as soundcheck began, it ended and they all waved goodbye and headed off stage. Honestly it didn’t feel real, you know? Like it was so brief that it felt like a fever dream or a hallucination.

Once soundcheck ended, we were allowed to get up from our seats to take pictures, grab food, check out merch, etc. Our group posed for pictures before Alex, Sophie and I headed out to find food and pair our ARMY bombs. We climbed up to the 100s level of the stadium and found the pairing booth, and that’s when Alex and I discovered that the lightsticks we bought were fake. UGH! It was pretty embarrassing, honestly. The only places to get legitimate ARMY bombs are from Weverse or to buy one at a concert. Weverse doesn’t ship to the UK right now, so that wasn’t an option, and we didn’t want to try our luck with the merch booths on the day just incase they sold out, so we tried our best to get legit ones. The one I got was from a K-Pop store so I had some hope, whereas Alex’s was from Amazon so I knew it would be fake. Anyway, we got in line for some food and then joined the mile-long line for one of the “express” merch booths.

We stood in line for the entire two hours before the concert, and by the time we got close enough to see the merch booth it was clear that the lightstick stock was dwindling fast. Just before we reached the front, a girl behind us actually cut the line and ended up getting the last ARMY bomb! I was so shocked and surprised to see that kind of behaviour from an ARMY. Still, I kept my hopes up that maybe there would be more available once we got to the very front of the line. Another ARMY came up to me in the line and kindly asked if I would be willing to get her a lightstick and she would pay me back. I told her I didn’t know if they had any, but I would try! That’s the way to go about it, honestly. Not cutting lines, but asking people if they could help you out. We finally made it to the front and asked if they have any lightsticks left. The woman shook her head no, so we picked up some merch for my friend Liz and a long sleeve shirt for me, and when I asked Alex if he wanted anything, he asked the woman again about the lightsticks. She looked around and saw a sign with the price for the lightsticks and it turns out that it was being held up by six lightstick boxes!! We couldn’t believe our luck so we bought three, one for each of us and the ARMY that asked me to get her one. I’m so glad we were able to get real ARMY bombs for the show! Especially after waiting in line for such a long time, too.

We left the line, gave the ARMY her new lightstick, and then found a place to the side where we could set up our new lightsticks. Once the batteries were in, we made a bee-line to the pairing booth and they connected without a problem!

ARMY bombs in hand, we hurried back down the stairs and found our way to our seats with only ten minutes to spare. Before the concert actually kicks off, the screens play some of BTS’ music videos in order from the oldest to the newest, so it’s easy to tell when the show is about to begin when Permission to Dance comes on the screens. Once the music video finishes, the lights go down in the stadium and the first of the VCRs made especially for the concert plays on the screens. There are several VCR moments throughout the whole show, each one marking the end of one section and the beginning of another.

The first VCR is in black and white, showing our beloved BTS handcuffed in interrogation rooms as a heavy drum and bass backing track sets the mood. Suddenly, Taehyung sticks his tongue out to reveal a paperclip and then the lights flicker to reveal the group mocking the security cameras before eventually exiting the room. Once the VCR finishes, the center screen in the middle of the stage lights up with “WE DON’T NEED PERMISSION” and the crowd goes wild. Everyone knows what is coming next. However, in all of our excitement, it took a few minutes before any of us realised that the right hand screen wasn’t working properly. About seventy-five percent of the LED panels that made up the thirty to forty foot screen was blacked out. After a few minutes of silence an announcement came in over the speakers thanking us for our patience and letting us know they would be restarting the screens.

As we saw flashlights making their way up the scaffolding, ARMY began practicing the ARMY bomb wave that BTS conducts at the end of every concert. The wave went round and round the stadium for at least five minutes while the LED panels slowly turned off in large strips. Eventually, the right hand screen turned back on, strip-by-strip, and the crowd cheered as the parts of the screen that weren’t lighting up originally began to flicker on. Luckily, only a small piece of the screen in the upper left hand corner stayed completely dark, and ARMY cheered again! The announcement came on over the speakers again, thanking us for our patience and asking us to return to our seats so the show could begin.

The VCR played through again and the tension was palpable as we waited to see whether or not there would be more technical issues with the screen. “WE DON’T NEED PERMISSION TO DANCE” appeared on the center screen and before we could even hold our breaths, music filled the stadium and ARMY lost their minds.

I recorded the first song in its entirety and you can really tell I was losing it. The first song of the show is one of my favourites: ON. It’s one of my favourites because the choreography is electrifying and BTS always eats up the routine. About half way through the song it really hit me that I was seeing BTS performing on stage, and I just began sobbing uncontrollably. I only got into BTS last Summer and I had no expectations that I would get the chance to see them perform live anytime soon! I was simply awestruck by their presence, their dexterity, and their power on stage. Fireworks and flames erupted before me and I cried even harder. Unfortunately one member, Kim Seokjin, had to sit to the side for most of the choreography due to a recent hand injury and surgery. I’m glad he didn’t have to stay completely seated for the entire concert because then it really would feel like we missed out on seeing all of BTS perform.

After ON came another one of my favourite songs in a special trap remix just for the tour: Fire. The pyrotechnics were working overtime for this one and you could totally feel the heat. I’ve seen the PTD concert so many times online that I knew what to expect, but it was so surreal to actually feel the heat from the flames! Honestly I was too busy crying and dancing to record much more than fourteen seconds of the song. Oof, that was a good one.

The last two songs of the first segment were Dope, which we had heard during soundcheck earlier, and DNA, one of BTS’ biggest songs in my opinion, but between them they had their opening “ment” which basically just means they introduced each of the members and gave an opening speech. After DNA finished, the members rushed off stage and the second VCR played on the big screens.

I really liked having the VCRs as little breaks throughout the whole three hour long concert! It gave me a chance to regroup, rehydrate, and get my shit together before I would inevitably lose it again in a couple of minutes. The second VCR shows Jungkook, Taehyung, and Namjoon playing pool in a garage/warehouse when suddenly they hear a knock on the garage door. Someone has left a pizza box for them, so they draw the blinds and turn the lights down before opening the box to reveal some brightly coloured substances in baggies along with a card. Immediately the boys turn their garage into some sort of lab and begin trying to put together all of the pieces to understand the strange substances. Police sirens can be heard in the distance so they pack up their lab and head out, and Taehyung sets the card on fire before walking off screen.

The second section of the concert starts off very dark and moody with the ballad Blue & Grey. The members are dressed in all black suits and coats, each one standing somberly in front of a mirror as they sang. Obviously I cried even harder, waving my ARMY bomb to and fro with the music. As Blue & Grey wound down, the members walked in unison from the main stage to the outer stage and the music transitioned into the Black Swan instrumental as dancers wearing all black outfits with white feather sleeves ran on stage. The dancers encircled the group, taking turns showcasing each member’s solo part of the performance.

The intro to Black Swan is so damn beautiful, it’s hard to look away. I had to keep my head on a swivel while I looked from the main screens to the outer stage because I didn’t want to miss anything. Confetti canons launched black “feathers” into the air as the intro hit its climax and the crowd went wild as Jungkook began to sing. I do feel like Black Swan is a great song to watch if you’re interested in seeing the technique BTS is capable of, especially any of the live performances. The group is absolutely breathtaking in their all black outfits, and for the Las Vegas shows Jungkook’s signature cropped blazer with notoriously flighty buttons has been replaced with a slightly more figure hugging four-buttoned corset blazer that is somehow even shorter on the sides and back than its predecessor!!

Once Black Swan comes to an end, the stadium is filled with the sound of screaming ARMYs as the members of the group breathe heavily into their microphones. They give their second “ment” while they dab their sparkling sweat and sip water on the outer stage before they make their way back toward the main stage for a medley of Blood, Sweat & Tears and Fake Love. These two iconic songs have been known to test the strength of the buttons on Jungkook’s blazers, and although his new blazer had four buttons I don’t think the fans were disappointed because he still lifted it up to show off his abs during the chorus of the song. Honestly, he knows us well.

After each of the members ran off stage at the end of Fake Love, the third VCR played on the screens. Hobi/J-Hope, Suga/Yoongi, Seokjin, and Jimin are hanging out and having a good time in a hotel room together when all of a sudden someone knocks on the door. It’s one of their neighbors signaling for them to keep it down. They shyly close the door and then continue to party. After a while, there is another knock at the door so they all freeze. It’s a different neighbour this time and Hobi pulls a vial of brightly coloured powder out and puffs it at the guy and he instantly starts dancing. The screen fades to black and then we see the four members sit down tiredly on the small sofa in the room. There is a third knock on the door so Jimin gets up to answer it. He looks through the peephole but sees no one. He opens the door to discover a silver briefcase containing a big button. Yoongi presses the button and outside of the hotel window colourful explosions of powder can be seen in the distance. At the same time, the confetti cannons in the stadium shoot tons of colourful confetti into the air and the crowd erupts in delight. The VCR cuts to black and the music starts up again.

The lights come up in the stadium and Life Goes On begins as the members walk up from a hidden set of stairs in the walkway of the stage. Each member is dressed in white and pastel outfits, each one with its own style. The outfits in the third section of the show have to be my favourites because they just look absolutely dreamy in pastel silk shirts. During the song, the camera switches from member to member as they sing each of their parts and at the end the camera takes a picture and it’s added to a collage on the big screens. Quite often the members will pose cutely with each other for this part and sometimes they’ll photo bomb each other, too. As the song winds down, all of the members find their way back to the main stage to stand on a platform that begins to rise in the air. At the end, cameras appear behind BTS and they take a picture with all of ARMY.

The next song, a jazzy live band version of Boy With Luv, begins as the platform lowers the group back to the main stage. This is yet another one of my favourite songs to sing and dance to because it’s just so lovely and upbeat. In fact, it was such a good song to dance to at the concert that I didn’t take a single picture or video during it!! After they finished singing Boy With Luv they paused for another “ment” with ARMY and then began a fabulously jazzy version of Dynamite. The group danced and grooved along with the live band on the main stage before dancing out to the center stage for the Dynamite to Butter dance transition. Seeing this dance transition was everything and more, and when Butter started the screaming only intensified. The confetti canons were operating at full speed during both of these songs, which only added to the awesomeness! There’s a part during Butter where RM/Namjoon says “Got ARMY right behind us when we say so” and the rest of the members spell out ARMY together, and I’m pretty sure that part made me start crying again.

Butter finished and the lights went out in the stadium again as the fourth VCR began to play on the big screens. We see all seven members of BTS walk up to the “PTD General Store”, clearly looking worse for wear after the colourful explosions that went off in the last VCR. The members enter the empty general store and start looking around before turning on a boombox and causing a ruckus. After a little while, a hand reaches up from behind the counter and turns off the boombox. A man stands up and jumps over the counter while BTS stares at him, unsure what he might do. The man starts to pop and lock it and the music comes back as BTS dances with him. Not long after they start dancing, the lights in the general store cut out and we see a large group of people dressed in white standing outside. The members walk outside and stand before the strangers as Jimin is the last to exit the store carrying a purple balloon. He walks up to a young girl at the front of the group of strangers and hands it to her before joining the rest of BTS. Taehyung starts brushing yellow powder off of the chest of his jacket and the strangers begin imitating his movement. Their movement just so happens to look like “have fun” in sign language. Taehyung notices this and sticks his left hand out, palm facing upwards and uses his right hand to make a downward-facing peace sign and wiggles it over his palm. The strangers copy his movement once again. The little girl releases the purple balloon and the VCR fades to black. The music comes back on and we see a video feed on a billboard showing the strangers and BTS dancing together in front of the general store as thousands of purple and white balloons rise up into the sky around the billboard. The music stops and the lights come up in the stadium as the beginning notes of Telepathy fill the air.

BTS comes back out on stage, this time wearing much more casual attire than their previous outfits. All of their looks are very different: RM/Namjoon sports a baseball cap with long ear flaps and wears a dusky lavender and white ensemble. Jin goes for an all-denim look with a bright blue undershirt, his cast wrapped in yellow. Suga/Yoongi looks cute and comfy in denim overalls with a long-sleeve t-shirt underneath, and Hobi/J-Hope is dressed in a bright yellow vest jacket, cargo shorts, and a bright green bucket hat. Jimin pairs tight white jeans with a baggy pastel yellow jumper, Taehyung looks amazing in his distressed lavender suit complete with added enamel pins, and Jungkook looks playful in his baggy mustard-coloured trousers and deep purple oversized jacket featuring a psychedelic mushroom design on the back.

As they sing, they split off into two groups and walk to either side of the main stage to board a special vehicle that chauffeurs them around the edge of the floor seating area. It’s hard to say whether or not the vehicle is a cart or what, but each one has an orange railing so that the members can hold on as they make their way from one side of the stage to the other. The vehicle also gives them enough height to be at the same level as the 100s, so tons of ARMYs get to be up close and personal with BTS during this section!! Once Telepathy finished, the carts passed each other in the middle and the group began to sing Outro: Wings, which is one of their songs from 2016!

The carts made it back to the main stage just in time for J-Hope and Jungkook to harmonise. Ugh, it was wonderful to witness. After Outro: Wings concluded, the group took a moment to have another “ment”, claiming that the show was almost over (even though any seasoned PTD On Stage ARMY knew we still had the encore to look forward to) and the leader of the group, RM spoke candidly about the Grammys and antis. RM is one of the most comfortable English-speaking members of the group, so he usually does his ments in English if they’re touring in America or the UK. Listening to him speak was really special and he made it clear how they didn’t come to Vegas for the Grammys; they came to see ARMY. I couldn’t help but cry again!! It’s hard to explain it, but I just felt so much respect and appreciation for BTS, and what RM and the rest of the members said during their ments really cemented that they love the hell out of ARMY, too.

Once all of the members spoke, they sang Stay and then transitioned into So What, two really upbeat jams. Members took turns shooting confetti/air cannons from the center stage as the crowd jumped and sang loudly. Then So What finished and the stage was flooded with dancers as a special version of IDOL came in over the speakers. I swear the confetti just did not stop! Dancing and singing to IDOL with my friends was incredible! Huge bursts of streamers shot out over the crowd and we snagged one of them as a souvenir. I think IDOL was my favourite song to see BTS perform live because everyone – them and us – really went all out!

The song eventually finished and the group waved goodbye as they exited the stage. The lights in the stadium went low again as all of the ARMY bombs lit up in purple while some of them turned green to spell out “LAS VEGAS” across the stadium. During this time, I had a much needed bathroom break! When I got back, the screens on the stage were showing all of the different signs ARMYs had made. Some of them were sweet, while others were… Let’s just say thirsty haha.

The lights went down again and on the screen was a montage of when BTS visited the UN General Assembly in New York last autumn to speak as Envoys of the President of the Republic of South Korea. The montage ends and the lights in the stadium come back up as the members come back on stage singing Home. Each member is dressed even more casually than their previous outfits, and everyone is wearing at least one item of merch, too. Home is a really sweet song with a fabulously catchy melody that I can’t help but sing along to, and you could tell BTS was really into it, too. Then, the conga rhythm of Airplane Pt. 2 came in and ARMY collectively lost their shit once more. Since it’s the encore section of the show, it’s BTS’ opportunity to just have fun and act goofy, and there must have been something in the air in Vegas because I think they were really acting up more than usual.

Airplane Pt. 2 finished with Jungkook and Taehyung slow dancing on the main stage, and then all of the members ran out to the center stage as the high-hats and drums for Baepsae brought the mood back up. If there’s one thing I learned quickly as a baby ARMY, it’s that the hip thrusts in Baepsae are too powerful. I swear, ARMY went full on feral during this number, and for good reason!! Maybe BTS heard “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” a little too often in the lead up to their concert because they took no prisoners with their hips that night. Even though it was just a snippet of the whole song, it was certainly enough to last me a lifetime! Baepsae transitioned into Dis-Ease and the members goofed off to the cameras at the edge of the center stage.

Dis-Ease finished and the members had their closing “ments”, but it was clear that they still had tons of energy left! There was a moment during the closing ment when Jungkook flashed his ab not once, not twice, but three times because J-Hope mentioned the buttons on his previous Black Swan blazer. I was sitting down during the ments, watching the screens, and when that happened I jumped up from my seat and began screaming as loud as I could! And then I got lightheaded and fainted back into my seat. Honestly, Jungkook is crazy!! He is definitely still firmly my bias.

The closing ments wrapped up with the ARMY bomb wave, a signature for any BTS concert. Namjoon said he saw that we were practicing during the technical difficulties at the start of the show and that he was proud of us, but I felt even more pressure to get the wave down right. They gave the instruction for everyone to put their ARMY bombs down and then raise it up when it’s your turn, and then they counted us down and off we went! Our section was the last one to go and I was so nervous that we would be too fast or too slow compared to the upper levels of the stadium, but we did it perfectly! After the wave finished all of the ARMY bombs lit up across the whole stadium in celebration. We did another wave starting from the other side of the stadium, and we did just as well!

After the wave finished, we all knew the end of the concert was drawing near. Permission to Dance was the last song of the concert and it was pure joy to witness. Endless bursts of confetti, everyone dancing, human-sized balloons bouncing out over the crowd, inflatable planets paraded along the perimeter of the floor, and BTS thanking ARMY. Confetti fluttered in the air as BTS gave their final goodbyes, running from one side of the stage to the other to blow kisses and wave to ARMYs before finding each other at the middle of the main stage like they had been three hours ago. The group joined hands, Namjoon said “Hana, deul, set!” and the group bowed together one last time as the middle screen began to lower in front of them. They continued to sing and wave to the crowd as the screen got lower and lower, and then finally it touched the floor and the concert was over.

Never in all my life have I been to a concert like a BTS concert. The showmanship, energy, pyrotechnics, and skill were worth the cost of admission. I feel so lucky to have been able to be there and see this show with my own eyes!! I came away from the concert feeling incredibly proud of my favourite seven boys from South Korea, and my love for them as performers and artists has grown deeper and stronger than ever.

After the concert we joined the throng of ARMYs leaving the stadium to catch a lyft. It was quite a hassle and nobody was getting phone service in the rideshare lot, but we made it out. Traffic was awful on the way back to the hotel, too, and Alex and I ended up ordered Taco Bell on Uber Eats so we could get some food by the time we got back and put on our pajamas.

Here’s video footage of when I completely lost my mind! You can clearly hear my screams and sobbing throughout the whole thing. Wow.
This trap version of Fire is one of my personal faves! I didn’t record much of it because I was too busy dancing (and still crying)
Wings is such a good bop! I’m glad they played it for Las Vegas and the burst of streamers was stunning!
Yoongi’s verse during Home is one of my faves.

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