KOXY and ArtLab, Occidental’s student-run radio station and art club, respectively, tend to put on events or produce artwork individually, a trend among most clubs and student organizations at Occidental. But on Friday, Jan. 31, a night when the rest of the campus was quiet, the two clubs took over Sycamore Glen to create music and murals as one cohesive unit.
Groove at the Glen was an event organized by an informal student group that aims to unite Occidental’s creative clubs through events. The group focuses on taking existing organizations and giving them a space to share their work with peers. KOXY provided funding and equipment, including lights, lasers and DJ materials, and ArtLab provided supplies for the murals.
At the event, student musicians kicked off a jam session with covers of R. Kelly’s “Ignition” and Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy,” inviting their audience onstage to join. Before long, the small space of Sycamore Glen was filled with a full dance floor, people jumping up and down to the music, and others spread out on blankets simply watching the action.
“A bunch of people actually jumped up on stage and took the bass for a second or took on the drums for a second,” Critical Theory and Social Justice (CTSJ) major and event organizer August Polstein (senior) said.
The audience also covered blank canvasses with impromptu murals. As the night went on and space ran out, the images began to overlap each other, resulting in layer upon layer of color.
DJs sociology major Griffin Carter-Doyle (junior), sociology major Kirk Follette (senior) and economics major Aseem Mangaokar (junior) shared the stage for the majority of the evening, taking the opportunity to let loose with their own musical tastes while weaving in popular dance music.
“The hip-hop and the moombahton, like the reggaeton stuff, that got the most love, but all the adventurous stuff, all the weird techno and house and disco that Griff [Carter-Doyle] and I wanted to play, we still played that and somehow people liked it, which was cool,” Mangaokar said.
The idea for the event originated at Pitzer, where a group of friends from Occidental attended a similar community jam session. Even before the goal to hold Groove at the Glen was articulated, these students had observed Occidental’s range of performing and artistic clubs.
“One of the biggest things in our previous conversations was, ‘How are we gonna start pulling this talent together?'” economics major and organizer Devon Ivey (junior) said.
The answer they came to was an open invitation to the clubs at Occidental to jam.
Members of the group and Programming Assistant for the Office of Student Life (OSL) Ripsime Biyazyan (sophomore), who helped them organize the event, hinted at the role that Groove at the Glen events might play on campus in the absence of school dances. Biyazyan was not convinced that this event offered a sufficient alternative to dances.
“A lot of people were complaining about the lack of dances, but not nearly enough people showed up to the ‘Glen,'” Biyazyan said.
On the other hand, student groups like Oxypreneurship and Dance Production sprung up to fill other perceived voids on campus and the role of each has only grown with time. Oxypreneurship now supports student enterprises and Dance Production puts on a huge show every semester. Given the opportunity, Occidental students may develop Groove at the Glen into a new type of campus gathering.
“I think people are used to just being handed events here, like dances, and so when those got taken away, people got really freaked out, but they didn’t even think that they could go and make their own event,” Polstein said.
The planning group will be meeting again soon to start organizing the next event, according to Polstein.
According to Tamara Rice, Assistant Dean of Students, there is no reason why Groove at the Glen should not become a recurring event. The participants respected the space, not making a mess with the paint. More importantly, everyone had a good time without partying too hard; there were no alcohol transports.
It was a casual, energetic and artistic space, according to Diplomacy and World Affairs (DWA) major Lencia Kebede (sophomore), a vocalist for a student band that performed.
“It was so successful. People had so much fun and I just loved the environment, so yeah, I absolutely want to be a part of it again,” Kebede said.