For longtime fans of South Korea's cultural juggernaut and often controversial export Kpop (AKA "Hallyu", "gayo" or simply “idol music” to the country's native residents), the summer of 2016 will likely be remembered for two key events. First, the industry's unofficial passing-of-the-celebrity-torch from the genre's elder statesmen and women to its most bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and second, the subsequent treasure trove of rookie girl groups that either began their reign at the top of the charts (Stone Music's I.O.I and JYP Entertainment's Twice) or further extended their runs (SM Entertainment's Red Velvet and Source Music's Gfriend.) And as luck would have it, early August would bestow yet another gift upon the season's unusually lavish mantle when iconic record label YG Entertainment's founder and former chief executive officer Yang Hyun-suk unveiled his latest ensemble BLACKPINK.
The financial capital of the world and home to such storied sites as the Statue of Liberty, Madison Square Garden, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the United Nations, New York City is truly as exceptional as they come. But whilst the chic and cosmopolitan streets of an episode of “Will & Grace” or “Gossip Girl” may immediately spring to mind when discussing the great melting pot, the five boroughs are also home to a treasure trove of remarkable, down to earth and most importantly affordable restaurants, markets, centers and even a synagogue or two that can double as a raging concert venue if you book it early enough. From the brightly lit sidewalks of Midtown Manhattan to the hustle and bustle of the South Bronx, here are a handful of my all-time favorite local-friendly hangouts exclusively on Vocal+.