By Sassy S.
November 19—I wandered past Barrows and looked through one of the windows. A topless guy was smearing neon paint over himself. Smirking, I walked into my dorm room preparing to do the same. After an Agave burrito, a shower, whisky ‘n Dr. P, some outfit coordinating, and neon paint of my own, I was armed and ready for The Voyage.
Events like The Voyage don’t usually start as early as 9pm at Oberlin, or anywhere else for that matter. I made a point to show up early to check out the jazz ensembles Chase Jackson Quintet, Mike King, and the Hit Squad. While jazz is common around these parts, it is not usually expected at a large-scale event. As starter groups, though, they warmed the crowd up nicely. During one point, as one of the groups played a rendition of Beyonce’s “Put A Ring On It”, I spied President Marvin Krislov and guests perusing the East corridor by Craig Lecture Hall, where student art created for the event hung on display as three projectors in the Science Center library displayed morphing patterns of colors and shapes in gentle rhythm to the music.
I soon found myself working the entrance, slapping wristbands on people’s arms trying not to get the sticky parts on their skin cause that’s always a pain. With so many people coming in waves of friend groups it’s hard to be precise each time. People from all over campus came to the event. Many were painted from head to toe—artsy-fartsy folks, jocks, Connies, first-years, upperclassmen—a whole mixture of people flooding in for a good time. The hip-hop group from the HipHop Collective started their set and the Science Center atrium filled up quickly. I could feel the excitement building as the evening begins to unfold.
By midnight The Voyage had blasted off, complete with a countdown and introduction to Stauss’ Also Sprach Zarathustra. The electronic dance music began, fitting in nicely with the bubbly atmosphere of anticipation. People began to lose themselves on the dance floor, blending in with the mass crowd grinding their hips to the beat. This is where all sense of time began to slip away from me. At around 1am I slipped upstairs to the DJ set, checking out the crowd from above. At about the same time, And What!? began their performance on the dance floor. Their glowing outfits were a phenomenal idea, as was dancing amidst the unsuspecting students. The execution of it all, however, was a bit chaotic (though that was the general atmosphere of the evening) since there were so many people around. The dancers went hard as they moved to the beats and many of the flashing light-up wires decorating their bodies came loose. Nevertheless, And What!? delivered a solid performance in tough settings, adding to the excitement of the night.
After And What!? another performance by a student group snuck on stage and blended in with the music. With little effort, Helen Newby ‘13 on cello, Franchesca Fetten ‘14 on violin, Parker Hall ‘13 on drums, and Alex Cummings ‘13 on sax picked up the beat of the music and dropped their instrumental skills during an electronic dance music set. The changeover was on point with the drummer holding down the beats as the violin tore away at the high tune and the cello held the instrumental backbone all the way. The saxophone had some special solo licks that blew up the crowd, igniting the excitement all over again for the DJ set to pick up once more.
Back on the main floor I blended in with the others, dancing carelessly, disregarding inhibitions, lettin’ it all hang out (in an appropriate way, of course). The beat kept building and we could all feel the culmination point coming close. At a peak moment, someone let loose clumps of confetti, which immediately fell to the Science Center floor. While some of us looked around in confusion, wondering what was going on, those who had found themselves under the dumped confetti picked up what they could and threw more into the crowd. Picking up on the idea everyone started leaning down to grab handfuls of confetti to toss into the air. Soon it became part of the crowded dance – shift hips right, then left, then back, lean down to scoop up confetti and *TOSS* into the air, as the hip shifting resumes we all watch the white pieces flutter over us to the ground.
The night could have continued for another four hours and no one would have complained. Sadly the fun had to come to an end and even with a final encore song I was left feeling incomplete, as if the party had only just begun. With the energy of the night still coursing through my veins I picked up a broom alongside my friends and began cleaning the remnants of a good time.
As I swept the floor of the Science Center there was plenty of time for me to think over the last few hours of my night. While I know the events hosted by Solarity are controversial amongst the student body at Oberlin, I see more pros than cons to what it is they’re trying to make happen. In my time here I’ve never seen such a large-scale effort to unite the multitudes of diverse student groups across campus. The motivating message behind these events is to let loose. Relax. Mix with people with whom you might not ordinarily mingle. This simple message reaches across what normally divides us, encouraging people of all scenes to participate in the events Solarity hosts.