If you’ve recently walked around Downtown Crossing on a weekend, you might have stopped to watch them: a group of dancers in training, moving and grooving to Korean pop songs.
They’re called Hush Crew, a 20+ year old band who have been dancing together for years. They occupy spaces around Boston, spin to the beat of K-pop hits, and post videos of their fluid, synchronized movements to TikTok and YouTube, where they have amassed a huge following.
“People really like to see a lot of people in the background or pass by – kind of like a flash mob feeling, where they like watching people’s reactions to the sides,” said Alex Chen, one of the members. founders of Hush Crew. “Usually it’s just guerrilla style. We just introduce ourselves, dance very quickly, and then we leave. “
In total, the crew has around 45 active members with varying levels of training, said co-founder Aaliyah Flournoy. Each video features only a handful of dancers, who mimic the choreography of popular K-pop hits. Recent videos include covers of songs by K-pop artists Itzy, Wonho, and Red Velvet.
K-pop, which stands for Korean popular music, has become a phenomenon since it first exploded onto the music scene in the 1990s. In recent years, South Korean boy band BTS has become an international sensation. and the first K-pop group to land a Grammy nomination. When BTS released their hit “Butter” on Spotify in May, the track broke the record for most streams in a single day, with over 11 million. (Adele recently overtook him with “Easy on Me.”)
The local dance group started in 2019, when several members met while on Team Boston University’s miXx, a K-Pop cover dance team associated with the school. After several degrees, they decided to take the dance floor with them – and Hush Crew was born.
“We basically started Hush as a tight knit group of friends. And it kind of widened – we brought our own circles into this group of close friends, so it just kept getting bigger, and we kept doing more covers, ”said Flournoy. “It was kind of an afterthought, like, ‘oh, maybe we should make a real band out of this.’ “
The name has nothing to do with the volume of the music. Hush, Chen said, was gender neutral, had a ring and “came up with a really nice hand gesture that we could use as a team,” he said, referring to the finger-to-lip pose. of the team. often hits.
In order to participate in a dance competition in New York City in July 2019, the team had to upload a video of a performance to YouTube. The video, of six of them filming in front of Quincy Market, has garnered more than half a million views since its publication.
Since then, they have strived to keep up with popular dance trends; on TikTok, they have nearly 40,000 subscribers and over a million likes on their videos. They also post nonsense, like when an unpretentious passerby walks right past the camera.
“It was useful to take advantage of these [trends] as quickly as possible, then those particular projects or videos also gain popularity, ”said Chen, who is not a BU alumnus. “It was a slow climb.
When the pandemic appeared, the crew’s flash mobs were interrupted for several months. They restarted in-person group shoots in the summer of 2020, and in September they performed live in Minnesota as part of the Midwest K-Pop Festival. The performance of the event is how the team generates revenue, which they spend paying their videographer, Sunch Takahashi, and securing the practice spaces.
Hush Crew has taken up residence all over town – dancing in Copley Square outside the Boston Public Library, on Newbury Street, in a fountain on the Rose Kennedy Greenway. As a rule, spectators are supportive of wherever they go, but sometimes members will be insulted or worse, such as the time a Downtown Crossing passer-by harassed performers for wearing masks.
A video of the incident uploaded to TikTok was captioned: “pov: you get attacked for being Asian doing kpop in public”.
“Overall, we generally get good and positive feedback,” Chen said. “But some interactions, like the one in the video, don’t surprise us either… they’re still in the minority of interactions we have, but they do exist. And that sort of comes with the territory at this point for us. “
Fan dating is also part of the territory, said member Sophia Auduong. “It definitely helps some of us keep going and wanting to produce great content and also improve our own dance skills,” she said. “But, yeah, that’s kinda weird.”
There is now also a branch of Hush Crew in Los Angeles, where Flournoy recently moved. Connections between members, however, continue even after the music fades.
“We ended up creating a community, and we obviously didn’t intend to do that initially,” said Flournoy. “We created a place where people go for friendships and just to talk to people and stuff beyond K-pop… The fact that we did something like that, it makes me emotional.”
Dana Gerber can be reached at [email protected]