It all started with a message on Instagram. How Ruby Peeler '26 went from joining, to co-leading, the first and only K-pop dance group at Oxy.
I hadn’t even moved into my Occidental dorm before I had my first interaction with a student-run club. Abby, a then rising sophomore, had found my Instagram and commented on a post of mine where I was dancing to a popular K-pop song. She wrote, “I better see you at Oxy’s K-pop dance club!” to which I responded, “Y’all have one of those?” A couple of DMs later, I had already unofficially joined K-Tigers – Occidental College’s first and only K-pop dance club.
Within my first week at Oxy, I attended my first K-Tigers workshop. Within my first month on campus, I had already led a workshop of my own; by that time, I had also become an e-board member. After spending my gap-year in South Korea and attending a dance studio there, I was excited to share all that I had learned. K-Tigers has given me not only a place to express myself through dance, but also a community that supports me in all that I do and imbues me with a confidence that I’ve never had before. Every Tuesday, from the first week of classes through finals, I have a place to de-stress and hang out with friends who love K-pop and dancing just as much as I do. I made it a personal mission to promote the club to as many of my peers as I could, particularly those with no dance experience, because I wanted to open our community to everyone.
Through K-Tigers, I was able to hold a leadership position in a club as a first-semester first-year student, something that not many can claim to have done! As treasurer, I learned a lot of organizational and interpersonal skills, and got really familiar with everybody at SLICE, Oxy’s office of Student Leadership, Involvement, & Community Engagement. I helped K-Tigers plan events such as movie screenings, end-of-semester showcases, and even performances for events held off campus. A particular favorite event of mine was the winter showcase, which is an annual collaboration between the K-pop dance clubs at Occidental, UC Irvine, and UC Riverside.
My first year, the winter showcase was held at UC Riverside. We prepared tirelessly for weeks, picking outfits and coordinating our schedules during a busy semester. With the help of SLICE, we obtained two school vans to shuttle dancers, along with other dancers who rode in the personal vehicle of an authorized driver. Our drive there was a little bit of a mess, as we got stuck in standstill traffic – a quintessential LA experience. However, we had lots of fun blasting our favorite songs and attempting to mime the choreography from our seats. At the showcase, we met lots of other dancers with amazing passion, and I was so excited to perform in front of such a receptive audience. I felt really proud to represent Occidental that day. Though we are a much smaller school than any UC, we still put on many amazing performances.
K-Tigers is excited to host more events and continue to connect with more people across campus. This year, Occidental will host the winter K-Pop showcase – the first time since its inception. We are already planning on making it an unforgettable experience for everyone. What may have started as a place to dance, has become so much more to me. Truly, our goal is to give our members an opportunity to perform, a space to shine, and a supportive community behind them each and every step of the way.