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Confessions of an American Idol

My evenings and weekends haven't been the same since.

By Maggie Elizabeth Published 2 months ago 5 min read
Top Story - January 2024
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Confessions of an American Idol
Photo by Senad Palic on Unsplash

Probably not the "American Idol" you're thinking of, though.

When one thinks of the phrase "American Idol," ABC’s popular singing competition series may come to mind. However, there is a dance-based subculture of the anime community that are offshoots of popular pop performance groups in Japan and Korea. These individuals dress up in matching outfits as a group, learning routines from anime such as Love Live! School Idol Project, The Idolm@ster, and Idolish7, and taking the stage at conventions or recording videos (“PV”) for YouTube. Each idol represents a character from these routines and will wear appropriate colors, outfits, accessories, and wigs to match.

I started performing with a local Midwest idol group in 2020. I was a little nervous, because I didn’t know any of these people and, while I spent my childhood in Japan, I had never been to an idol concert or engaged with the fan bases. However, after moving back in with my parents due to some mental health issues, I wanted to join a community of like-minded individuals. I love anime. I love cosplay. I love to dance. Unfortunately, I am also very shy, so our first few practices together were awkward to say the least. Plus, the dance styles were different from anything I had ever learned before.

A few times, I wondered if I had made the right decision.

But then everything fell into place at our first performance at a local fall festival. I remembered just how elated I feel when I perform for audiences. That was the moment, I think, that I fully embraced being an American in a Japanese-style pop dance group. A different type of "American Idol," if you will.

Since then, I’ve become involved in what the fandom lovingly calls, “Idol Hell.” Idol costumes are expensive. Idol merchandise is expensive. I haven’t invested in much of the merchandise, but the costumes. Oh, the costumes. I have a wish list a mile long. As for my routines, I’ve learned a variety, from group numbers to trios to solos. Yes, I’ve probably gone insane, but at least I’m having fun along the way.

Sometimes I feel like my life has become something out of a slice of life or idol-based anime. I juggle a job, other interests, and my inconsistent mental health as well as my routines. We have run-ins with other idol groups, not all of them being positive experiences. We struggle with learning steps or getting everyone to practice from time to time. There is drama, there is frustration, there are tears. But we can still laugh together, still nerd out together, still dance together.

We do this as a hobby. My fellow idols and I choose to take the time to come together and practice. We choose to buy pricey costumes with our own money. And that’s tough when there are so many other groups out there who practice and perform more than we do. Our audiences watch us and expect us to be perfect. Except, we’re not. We’re human, not machines. We have hopes, dreams, lives outside of dancing.

I think that’s okay though. It’s okay to like something and not be perfect at it. After all, it’s called “cos-PLAY,” not “cos-stress yourself out to the point of having a panic attack.”

This can be a bit of a stressful hobby, however. My group has had a busy season, full of performances at local festivals and conventions. I am honored to be invited as guests to so many events, but it certainly is a commitment. At the time of writing, we have a performance in a week and I still need to add a couple of things to my dress. Not to mention run my routines.

When people ask me what kind of dance group I'm a part of, I'll usually give them "J-pop" as a short, easy answer. After all, if you're expected to say "good" after a "how are you" greeting and move on to other small talk, I'm not sure who would really be interested to learn more about what an idol group is or what it does.

However, on those occasions when people are truly curious, I take them on a shallow dive into "Idol Hell," regaling them with not just an explanation, but often pulling up videos of what a routine looks like, as well as trying to impress them with the story about how I almost had to be taken to the hospital in an ambulance after becoming violently sick after a performance at a convention.

(No exaggeration there, y'all. Being asked by the EMTs to move the tail attached to my skirt so they could position me on the stretcher was a whole new level of embarrassment.)

As my group plans on the year of performances and group appearances ahead, it seems overwhelming, at least to me. My stomach squeezes and my heart beats faster as I stress about all the routines I need to learn, all the time that I need to put into to learning routines by a hard deadline, and all the money I will shell out on outfits. But then I dig deep and remember how much I love what I do. I love performing, dancing, and colorful costumes. I love my friends.

And I truly love being an American idol.

cosplay
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About the Creator

Maggie Elizabeth

Introvert, noodle enthusiast, world traveler, and all-around nerd

She/Her

Find me on TikTok, Instagram, & Facebook @writeawaymaggie

Reader insights

Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

Top insights

  1. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  2. Eye opening

    Niche topic & fresh perspectives

  3. On-point and relevant

    Writing reflected the title & theme

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Comments (17)

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  • Naveed 2 months ago

    Superior effort! Keep the outstanding work—congrats!

  • PK Colleran2 months ago

    Amazing story. I hope to see one of these dance routines some day. Thank you for sharing. I'm glad to know about this expressive art form. 💙

  • Patricgamer2 months ago

    I like this program

  • Oasis of Wisdom2 months ago

    It is inspiring to read your article about something you are so passionate about! Reminded me of what i love doing and more focused.

  • Rachel Deeming2 months ago

    Good for you, doing your idol thing. It's not something I was aware if but I am now. I love the fact that you're doing it despite your shyness.

  • k eleanor2 months ago

    Well Written. Congratulations on the top story!

  • Congratulations . Awesome profession fun story

  • David2 months ago

    It so amazing story keep it up

  • Cheryl E Preston2 months ago

    Congratulations. This is awesome. Good luck in the future.

  • Margaret Brennan2 months ago

    first of all: congratulations on TS. Your story is magnificent. I almost joined a singing group because I thought it would be fun. But, yes, the costume prices are out of control. Then there's the transportation costs to any contest our group wanted to join. I opted for a dance class in the Y.

  • Donna Renee2 months ago

    This was fascinating and super nicely written! 😁 congrats on the TS!

  • Mariann Carroll2 months ago

    Congratulations On Top Story!!! It seems we do have a lot of Asian group singers on our Music Charts that making headway. I wish you would share some photos of you performing in an event. Thank you for sharing your experience. The New American Idol. I love Japanese groups, they were the first before Kpop.

  • JBaz2 months ago

    Moving a tail so you can be placed on a stretcher, now there is a line you don't hear everyday Congratulations

  • Sehrish Ghaffar2 months ago

    Nice story!!1

  • Godstime Eleberi2 months ago

    Well it was a nice one

  • Amin2 months ago

    nicer story!!

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