Interview with QUT Asian Pop Society – The ScratchThat Scoop

Ailie McLeod

What is QUTAPS?

Sav Stern (QUTAPS 2023 Events Coordinator): QUTAPS is the QUT Asian Pop Society. We’re a social club and focus on all things Asian culture specifically K-Pop, C-Pop, and J-Pop.

Peter Do (QUTAPS Member): I think a big part of it is joining people together by a common interest. For QUTAPS, when you come, you know exactly what people enjoy. You know that everyone is here to be with like-minded people.


What are the opportunities and events available?

Sav: We have our weekly dance workshops. Those are a really big hit among our members, and they give us an opportunity to meet every week and catch up with our friends. We also do have just a lot of social events, our karaoke nights, our trivia nights, and we have our social dinners. Then we also have our dance projects and our performance team which allow our members a chance to perform.

Astrid Osborne (QUTAPS Member): Our big thing that we do as well is our end of year dance Showcase which accepts anyone who goes to our workshops and it’s a chance to show what we’ve been working really hard on over the weeks.


What are the benefits of the workshops?

Sav: It’s such an accessible thing for people who possibly are not super into dance or have always been wanting to learn dance. All our workshops are taught at a beginner level and it’s a really welcoming experience and we see a massive turn out every single semester.

Peter: For the workshops, there’s really no commitment. If you want to see people, come, if you want to dance, come, if you want to hang out and chill, then come.

Astrid: Some people only come on weeks where groups that they like or dances that they want to learn are on.

Sav: Our workshops are very member focused, so we have a poll each week that is put up on Instagram stories a few days before the workshop and our members vote on the two songs that they’d like to learn the most for the next workshop. Then we can really cater to what our members want. So usually those are new releases but then we also have special weeks where we will do a throwback choreo (choreography).

Astrid: We’ll always post the result of the poll the day before a workshop so that everyone knows what they’re up for. There’s a really big range of choreo that we do. Some are easy, some are harder, so you do have a lot of control over what you’re comfortable with.

Peter: K-Pop has a lot of variety. Sometimes you’ll turn up and you’re doing hip-hop and then other times a foundational groove.

Sav: Then sometimes it’s a girl group and you’re doing whacking or tutting or sometimes you’re doing casual, super cute choreo. You get to learn a range of different styles, so people who are not super familiar with dance can figure out what they like.

Astrid: Every week we post videos of our dance workshops on Instagram. That’s where a lot of people find out about us.

Sav: Our teachers are usually people who have mentored at showcases, have led pieces at showcase, or are Brisbane based K-Pop choreographers who have been in the community for a while. Some have taught at places such as Mad Dance House or have taught at UQ Street Group Society or UQ KDC which is their K-Pop dance club. So, it’s a mix which is really nice.

Astrid: Some of those teachers are students or previous students.


What are the dance project and performance teams?

Vera Turner (QUTAPS 2022 President): The dance projects are specifically so that anyone can join them. You just sign up. Usually, we alternate between doing a boy group and then a girl group, and you just have to be a member in order to join. You’re taught a dance over the course of six to eight weeks and then it’s filmed, so you get the full K-Pop cover experience. The performance team is audition based and that happens at the start of the year, and we take in about twelve to fifteen members. The performance team is our best of the best dancers who represent the club at all the events that the Guild and the wider community puts on.

Peter: If you do a project or you’re in performance team then you have those rehearsals that you will have that responsibility to come to, for not just the club but for everyone else you’re performing with.


Why should members get involved in the Showcase?

Vera: A lot of people who join the club have never danced before, a lot of them are completely new, so those of us who’ve been around awhile understand how scary it is the first time you’re doing a performance. So, we want to give them as much love as we can to make sure they feel welcome and happy and that they keep coming back.

Astrid: The audience is usually our friends and our family. That’s what’s really good about QUTAPS, it’s nothing so serious. That’s what makes it so accessible, that is just a very supportive audience all the time.

Sav: At QUTAPS showcase, it’s always just the highest energy, most hype place you’ll ever be. You always hype each other up from side stage. On stage you feed off the crowd’s energy, so having that energy from your friends and from the crowd is always really nice.

Peter: It’s the energy of not just QUTAPS, but Brisbane Dance and Brisbane K-Pop. It’s generally the most supportive group of people you can ever be in front of, and it’s truly a different experience to be up on stage and have everyone support you.

Sav: Showcase is for our members, so we want to be showcasing our members. With showcase, we have requirements that you show up to all your rehearsals and that you also come to workshops just so that we can see your dedication and that you will actually be a reliable team member.

Astrid: And that you’re actually a part of the club.


Why should people come and watch the Showcase?

Vera: One thing that’s unique about QUTAPS Showcase is that we have a blend of Mentor and Step-up pieces. Mentor pieces are taught by members of the dance community who are actual professionals, and they’ve been doing this for a long time. So, with the QUTAPS Showcase especially, there is a certain level of quality that you can expect from the dances because they’ve been taught by people that really do understand dance.

Astrid: And we prepare for a long time.

Sav: Then we have our Step-up pieces which are led by members of our club who audition with a piece that they would like to lead. We also have a mix of guest pieces, such as Brisbane K-Pop Crews, come and perform. This year we’ve also got some guest pieces that are not just K-Pop cover groups.

Sav: Showcase this year is on Saturday the 16th of December at 6:00PM. It’s at QMC, that’s in Kangaroo Point under the bridge. People can buy tickets through the link in our Instagram bio, but they’re not available currently. When they are available, we’ll post on our Instagram. Get in quick because they sold out really fast last year.

Peter: Just follow us on Instagram. If you follow us, you can’t miss it.

Sav: Our YouTube channel has been picking up a lot recently with our dance cover project and also our performance team projects. That’s where we also put our showcase videos so that people who didn’t get the chance to come and watch us on the actual night to see the live performance, can still watch those. It’s also a memento for our members so they can go back and rewatch those performances.


What do you like about QUTAPS?

Sav: The welcoming atmosphere. I remember coming into our first rehearsal for dance project last year and I had never been to any of the other events. I had people just coming up to me immediately, like “Hi what’s your name?”. I’ve never felt so immediately safe in a space, and everyone makes you feel so comfortable to be your true authentic self. No one’s here to judge you. It’s like a little family as well, you really find your people in this club. I’ve found some of my best friends and I know that they’re going to be my lifelong friends. I know that there’s a lot of members who only just started dancing this year or last year and seeing their progression every week is such a lovely thing to see.

Peter: Because of the emphasis on the beginning level, you can really just go and try your best and you will rarely ever feel like you needed to do better or something different. I joined last year on a whim for a dance project of a group I like. I’d never danced before in my life. I didn’t think I was going to get in, even though they said, “We’ll let anyone in”. I ended up dancing for the next couple of months and now it’s on YouTube. Then I kind of disappeared for a bit and I came back and it’s like I never left. When I realised that, I was like, “Why did I stop coming?” and I just kept coming back. I don’t even come to QUT, that’s how much I like it here.

Astrid: I had never danced before joining QUTAPS and now it’s a big hobby of mine. I think something that’s really special about QUTAPS and our dance aspect of our club is that it’s a really good chance to exercise in a fun way and with friends.


What are your influences or inspirations?

Sav: We really want to create a community where we can all share our love for K-Pop and Asian culture. Personally, I was always quite embarrassed to openly showcase that, and I feel like that’s the same case for a lot of members in our club. Through QUTAPS I was able to find that group of people get why you love it and get why it’s a comfort for you. I found a lot of people who encourage me to grow and to be the best and truest version of myself and I’m so thankful for the friends that I have made here.

Peter: I really like becoming a better dancer for one. It is amazing to improve. I remember the first time someone came up to me and was like “You were so good at that”, I was like, “Wow. Am I that good? I only just started”. Personally, I feel like I’ve improved as a person here as well. When I came to QUTAPS, I felt what it’s like to be yourself for the first time. Being here has made me realise that this is what your true self is, and what you can be, and that you will never be looked at differently for it.

Astrid: I think it can be really difficult to make friends at uni. A lot of the time you’re not in class with the same people, and people are very busy, and they just go off after classes. It can be very isolating, and I think clubs, especially social clubs like this, really help you have that experience of friendship at uni. You don’t have to be in the same degree, but you have this consistent schedule of events, and you don’t have to plan them for yourself.


Do you have any advice for people who want to get involved?

Sav: Just come and throw your hat in the ring. It may seem scary, but you’ll be greeted with such a welcoming group of people, and you’ll make really fast friends. If you want to come hang out with people who share a similar interest here, or perhaps if you’re curious about Asian culture and Asian pop and stuff to do with that, come along and say hi. Everyone’s super nice and super lovely.

Peter: The hardest part is just walking through the door.

Queensland University of Technology Asian Pop Society (@qutapsofficial), Vera Turner (@facetiousvera), Sav Stern (@sav_stern), Astrid Osborne (@astrid.osborne_), Peter Do (@peter.dough)

Interviewer: Ailie McLeod is a transdisciplinary performer, an emerging writer, dancer and stage manager. She is currently in her third year studying a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Drama) at QUT. Last year Ailie’s play Manage, was her playwriting debut. Her performance credits include being an ensemble member in IMRSE’s CAKE, Hairspray the Arena Spectacular, and Queensland Contemporary Youth Ballet. Other credits include stage managing for 2am: The Extended Cut, Pengelly Productions and Brisbane Performing Arts Challenge. Upcoming projects for Ailie include assistant directing Sugar Mountain which will be a part of Vena Cava’s 2023 Freshblood Festival. 

Editors: Euri Glenn and Brock Scholte