Dress codes helping fans get in on the act

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Dress codes helping fans get in on the act


Offices have dress codes. So do funerals, graduation ceremonies and some operas. The code is usually somber: black, buttoned-up and straight-laced. Things have since changed, and nowadays most of the codes (except for funerals, of course) have been replaced by the concept of “smart casual.”
But for the Croatian pianist Maksim Mrvica and the musical production Bat Boy, formal is back, and this time it’s funky.
At Mrvica’s concert at the Seoul Arts Center on Dec. 13, fans showed up wearing black, which the pianist says is his favorite color. The atmosphere, however, was far from funereal: the fans dressed up as witches, magicians, or even nuns.
“Because it’s the Christmas season, we wanted to create a party-like atmosphere,” said Kim Ji-yeon, an official of Seoul Arts Management, the concert’s promoter.
Maksim is known for his youthful looks (he’s 29) and stylish performances, giving him a reputation as something of a ladies’ man. At the concert, the pianist personally autographed posters of himself for the first 100 fans to show up in black ― an event that lasted only 10 minutes.
“Maksim asked us to wear black, so it was just a courteous thing for the fans to do,” said Bang Hyo-seon, 24, who runs a Maksim online fan club with about 18,000 members. “Maksim himself also wore black on stage, so I felt like I was sharing something with him.”
Jo Sung-mo, a singer, also set a dress code for the release party and concert for his new album on Nov. 13. The theme was “Jean & Free,” meaning people had to wear jeans, but any type of top was fine.
The reason for demanding that guests wore jeans was that Jo’s new album is a set of remake songs from the 1980s, when jeans were the hippest style in Korea, said Shin Won-kou, a director of Interplay, the party organizer. Jo also wanted event to appeal to various age groups, from those in their teens to 40-somethings. After all, Jo reckoned, doesn’t everyone have a pair of jeans? The event was a success: 99.9 percent of participants kept the code, Mr. Shin said.
“Having a dress code is interesting because the idea is that people share something,” Mr. Shin said. That allows the participants to enjoy performance more ― even at Jo’s concert, which lasted more than five hours.
But setting a dress code for a performance can also be a drag. When Seensee Musical Company had a dress code of black and red for its showcase of the musical Bat Boy in July, some people complained on the company’s Web site bulletin board.
“It’s summer, I don’t have any black or red clothes,” one person wrote. “I might look out of place if I don’t meet the code. I’m thinking of giving up my seats. I don’t know if the host can understand how frustrated I am, having to give up the seats only because of the dress code.”

by Park Sung-ha
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