Author: Noel Hemphill|Noel Hemphill|Noel Hemphill
This past Saturday, Occidental students clothed in every animal print imaginable packed into the former Alpha Tau Omega (ATO) house. It was sweaty and crowded, but the energy in the room was undeniable. On top of a makeshift stage, sophomore Jordan Whaley (stage name Dienasty) stood, microphone in hand, words flying out of his mouth as he rapped effortlessly over the noisy throng of students. The crowd moved with the music, feeling the rhythm and nodding along with every beat.
This is the dream of seniors Sam Stapleton and Julian Leon along with Whaley. One quiet Occidental night in late April, the three sat around a computer, watching a live stream of the 2012 Coachella Music Festival. They were miles away from the action yet were entranced by the experience. Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg were claiming the stage as their own and the audience howled in adoration. The feeling of the crowd transported through the screen and sparked the imagination of the three men.
“We thought to ourselves, ‘what if we threw an event and had Jordan perform at it?'” Stapleton said.
It all took off from there.
The many Occidental students not attending Coachella that weekend flocked to their party. Students at the renowned musical festival in Indio, Calif. heard about the event and asked for another to be held as soon as possible once they had returned to campus.
“It ended up a lot better than we thought it could be,” Stapleton said. “We ended up throwing another one the week after!”
The group soon came up with the name Black Bottles Entertainment, or BBE, for their event planning organization. The trio is a versatile group who takes pride in making each event more than an average Occidental party. Stapleton believes that the biggest hole in Occidental parties is that they are not always memorable. With BBE, the aim is to create an event – whether that be a nighttime party or a casual day time pool party – that has energy, fun, and a musical element.
“Ragers are the most fun to plan, I will say that,” Whaley said. ”[But] we have a wide range of different things we are trying to do, like kick-backs and artist showcases where it is just so focused on the music and there doesn’t need to be a sip of alcohol involved.”
The group’s love of music is what started BBE, creating a central focus of a live musical act to entertain guests at every event. These events can different types of musical acts, from Whaley rapping, a DJ spinning a live set or a band of Occidental seniors called Simian Pillage. BBE wants to make sure that music is the focus so that the talented Occidental musicians can get the exposure they deserve.
“I wouldn’t call it a BBE event if it didn’t have the musical part of it,” Stapleton said.
So far, BBE has had no shortage of Occidental musicians, making that element of planning the easy part. The problem usually lies in finding a venue for their party. The former ATO house is popular, but the boys are hoping to branch out to working with Delta Omicron Tau (one of Occidental’s three sororities), or even working with campus officials to make a small scale music festival with live music and different Eagle Rock food and drink vendors. Once these elements have come together, BBE puts lots of effort into making each event special.
With any luck, these sorts of parties and BBE will carry on, even after seniors Leon and Stapleton have graduated.
“I have one year left, and I want to give people more of a different type of nightlife,” Stapleton said. “We want other people who are talented to use this as a platform and get their name out there and have people hear them.”
The biggest goal the group has for this year is to see Whaley be the opening act for Spring Fest. Though they know they may have little sway in making Whaley open for the annual concert, they believe thoroughly that with exposure from BBE events and growing support form the Occidental community, this idea could become reality. BBE wants as many people who are looking to have a good time come to their events, Stapleton said, who also hopes that with enough supporters, they could be a big help for getting Occidental musicians support from their peers.
With high hopes and a seemingly endless supply of ideas, BBE is asking students to stray from their typical nights of red Solo cups and “Call Me Maybe” on loop and venture into a new social scene. Their outlook can be summed up by the motto Stapelton says they plan, and live, by.
“If you ain’t with the movement, hop on the treadmill!”
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