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K-pop dance group Hush Crew takes its slick moves to the streets of Boston

Hush Crew, a Boston K-Pop dance crew, films a flash-mob style routine near Downtown Crossings on Oct. 23.Erin Clark / Globe Staff

If you’ve recently strolled through Downtown Crossing on a weekend, you may have stopped to watch them: A gaggle of dancers in formation, moving and grooving to Korean pop songs.

They call themselves Hush Crew, a group of 20-somethings who’ve been dancing together for years. They take over spaces around Boston, gyrate to K-pop hits, and post videos of their slick, synchronized moves on TikTok and YouTube, where they’ve amassed a sizable following.

“People really like to see a lot of people in the background or walking by — kind of like a flash mob feeling, where they like watching the reactions of the people on the sides,” said Alex Chen, one of Hush Crew’s founding members. “Usually it’s just guerilla style. We just show up, dance really quickly, and then leave.”

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In total, the crew boasts about 45 active members with varying levels of training, said co-founder Aaliyah Flournoy. Each video includes just a handful of dancers, who mimic choreography from 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 way back in the 1990s. In recent years, South Korean boy band BTS has become an international sensation and the first K-pop group to clinch a Grammy nomination. When BTS released its hit “Butter” on Spotify in May, the track smashed the record for most streams in a single day, with more than 11 million. (Adele recently surpassed it with “Easy on Me.”)

The local dance group started in 2019, when several members met while on the Boston University miXx team, a K-Pop cover dance crew associated with the school. After several graduated, they decided to take the dance floor with them — and Hush Crew was born.

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“We basically started Hush as a close-knit group of friends. And it kind of just expanded — we brought our own circles into this close group of friends, so it kept getting bigger, and we kept doing more covers,” said Flournoy. “It was kind of an afterthought, like, ‘oh, maybe we should make this a real group.’ ”

The name has nothing to do with the volume of the music. Hush, said Chen, was gender-neutral, had a ring to it, and “came with a very nice hand gesture that we could use as a team,” he said, referring to the finger-on-the-lips pose the team often strikes.

In order to enter a dance contest in New York in July of 2019, the crew needed to upload a video of a performance onto YouTube. The video, of six of them gyrating in front of Quincy Market, has garnered over half a million views since it was posted.

Since then, they’ve made an effort to follow popular dance trends; on TikTok, they boast nearly 40,000 followers and over a million likes on their videos. They also post bloopers, such as when an unassuming passerby walked right in front of the camera.

“It’s been helpful to take advantage of those [trends] as quickly as possible and then those particular projects or videos also gain more traction,” said Chen, who is not a BU alum. “It’s been a slow climb.”

When the pandemic emerged, the crew’s flash mobs were halted for several months. They restarted in-person group shoots in summer of 2020, and this September, they performed live in Minnesota as part of the Midwest K-Pop Festival. Event performances are how the crew brings in revenue, which they put toward paying their videographer, Sunch Takahashi, and securing practice spaces.

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Hush Crew films a flash-mob style dance routine near Downtown Crossing. Erin Clark / Globe Staff

Hush Crew has set up shop all around the city — dancing in Copley Square in front of the Boston Public Library, on Newbury Street, in a fountain on the Rose Kennedy Greenway. Typically, wherever they go, onlookers are supportive, but occasionally, members will be catcalled or worse, like the time a passerby in Downtown Crossing harassed the performers for wearing masks.

A video of the incident uploaded to TikTok was captioned: “pov: you get attacked for being asian while doing kpop in public.”

@celenana_na

we have the right to wear masks like how he has the right to be ugly tf #stayc #stereotype #kpopinpublic #harrassed #asian #covid #kpop #kpopfyp

♬ stereotype x dalla dalla - 😛

“By and large, we typically just get good and positive feedback,” said Chen. “But certain interactions, like the one on the video, are also not surprising to us anymore … they’re still in the minority of interactions we have, but they exist. And it kind of comes with the territory at this point for us.”

Fan encounters have also become part of the territory, said member Sophia Auduong. “It definitely helps some of us keep going and wanting to produce good content and to also improve our own dance skills,” she said. “But, yeah — it’s a little weird.”

Sunch Takahashi, center, shows the Hush Crew, a Boston-based dance crew, their take in between performances of a flash-mob style dance routine in Downtown Crossing. Erin Clark / Globe Staff

There is now also a branch of Hush Crew in Los Angeles, where Flournoy recently moved. The connections among the members, though, continue even after the music fades out.

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“We ended up making a community, and we obviously didn’t intend to in the beginning,” said Flournoy. “We’ve made a place that people go to for friendships and just to talk to people and the stuff beyond K-pop ... The fact that we made something like this, it gets me emotional.”


Dana Gerber can be reached at dana.gerber@globe.com