By Arquala | @arquala_davis

It’s been a year now. Fascinating how one video changed everything and led to the moments that took place at the beginning of my NCT journey to now. Sometimes I can’t even fathom how this happened and how I let it come this far. Even though each person’s NCT experience is not the same, each one is meaningful, and I’d like to share mine with you, precisely from end to start.

Back to the Beginning

2019 was one of the most confusing years of my life and the year I discovered NCT. I was searching through the depths of YouTube and came across a K-pop choreography video. One thing to know about me is I am obsessed with choreography videos to the point that I believe I could dance, but only to get out of bed and realize that my limbs don’t move how I thought they should. But particularly, in this video, the song “Black on Black” by NCT 2018 stood out to me. The snippet of choreography was amusing, but the music alone is what made me search up the song. My first reaction to the mass of bodies in black outfits was “Damn, that’s a lot of people! How can anyone possibly know each of their names?” If only past me could see me now.

“The destination is uncertain and there is no turning back”

I can’t recall how long I spent on this video, replaying each moment to keep track of the spectacle and focus my attention on one person at a time. I struggled with this as there was a red-haired man that caught my eye. The energy he exerted was so badass and at first glance, he looked intimidating as hell, but interestingly it made me like him more. Come to find out, his name was Lee Taeyong—and he’s changed my life.

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Understanding New Technology

For days I wanted to know everything about this group until I realized their songs were created from different units, NCT U, NCT 127, NCT DREAM, and funnily enough NCT 2018. I noticed that certain people were in specific groups, but the shock when I saw some of the same people in different groups made me pause. I assumed NCT 2018 was created in the year 2018, but I didn’t understand the whole point of the project. “Is this a yearly thing?” “Why is there a distinct year?” “Why not just call it ‘NCT’?” Yeah, yeah, you get it. One major thing that struck me was how non-linear this concept seemed at first. In my mind, I pieced together that “if there is a new group each year that does this ‘project’, that means there is potential for new people to be in it next time… but who the hell would do something like that?” The answers were slapping me in the face at this point, but I couldn’t grasp one. 

After I made up my mind about this potential investment, I started NCT Life from the very beginning. Finally, some of the inside jokes I’ve seen before made sense, and I instantly fell in love with each of the members. To help me reinforce what little I knew about them, I started watching interviews and Vlives to practice remembering their names and recognizing each one, but I made the awful mistake of using hair colors as the main identifier. I didn’t know what the Vlive app was, but YouTube was there for me so it worked out either way. The time that I spent every day watching older videos, reading comments, and doing more research on a group of men exceeded what I’ve ever done on any of my college essays. At that rate, I decided to get a “Black on Black” poster and I practiced every chance I could to go down the poster and say each members’ name and what unit they were in. Funny how that one item made me feel as if I was spending too much money when it was barely $20.

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T(hank) Y(ou)

In a short time frame, I became engrossed with anything that had Lee Taeyong’s name on it. I searched through many of his solo projects and watched clips of him just being him. The Taeyong I knew before wasn’t so intimidating after all as I began to see more of both sides of his soft and charismatic traits. In every video, my eyes purposely went on the hunt for a mysterious man, usually not looking the same in each one I came across. He shared various colors of cotton candy hair, a great sense of style and usually a snack or Starbucks drink in hand made him a bit easier to find. His deep raspy voice, contagious laughter, and beautiful rose scar were a few immediate things I fell in love with. 

At this point, I didn’t know a community like TyongF (Taeyong Friend) existed, but I knew that I supported him very much and wanted the best for him, whatever that could be. “Long Flight” has a special place in my heart as it reminds me of the sky and flying freely, hoping that is something Taeyong gets to feel often. Finding out many of his talents through dance, songwriting, and leadership provided nothing less than complete admiration. The buzz about a Taeyong solo is real and well-deserved, but the time will come if and when it is ready. Taeyong’s success before a solo doesn’t show the full scope of his potential success in the future, but it increases my anticipation. He is someone who has been inspiring for me to keep pushing through, even after he has been through so much himself. He is deeply an artist inside and out.

Biasing Taeyong from the very beginning wasn’t a difficult decision, but there were so many members that it made me wonder how I was able to make that decision so early and hold on to it. Even a year later, I realized I made an excellent choice as Taeyong often shared wise words with fans on camera, and exemplified great characteristics of support by uplifting his members. He never fails to show that he cares, and that is something that I want to continue doing for others in my life.

“It’s one way road Even on long and steep roads”

NCT As A Lifestyle

Whenever I can include my appreciation for NCT in my life I try to. Doing so takes many forms and each person has their way, but I am always happy to do what I can. NCT has spilled into my life and the work that I do as a Resident Assistant and a resident of NCity. More recently I wanted to insert myself completely into the NCity community and meet people like me. As the NCity joke blew up I reached out to a few of the NCity accounts to share an idea about NCTzen identification cards. I loved the idea, but there were so many pieces of it that I didn’t know who to contact and get it started. Eventually, that burned out and we dropped it completely. However, I was redirected to an account @ncity_mag to keep in touch with NCTzens, and I filled out a form to be a part of the team. I had no idea what I would be doing exactly, but I thought it couldn’t hurt as I just wanted to work on something creative and meet other people.

Now, it’s still so wild for me to be able to write this for our official website. EnVi has been able to do so many things in such little time that sometimes I still can’t believe it’s real. Our team has grown so much and I am very proud of every one of them for being accepting, hardworking, and reliable. I don’t think I could ask for a better team and an amazing group of people who are all different, but we share the same little community. 

If you told me in 2019 that I would meet one of the greatest friends of my life, experience my first concerts, find my community, be the Managing Editor of a fanmade magazine, and come to love a group that has started it all, I would’ve said you were lying. But every day I would think of what a life with NCT could be.

In case you missed it, check out Building A Space: How The Everyday Person Has Taken Part here!

Thumbnail: Taeyong, IG@rickyartist