Second 'Groove' promotes shift in social landscape

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The event itself is hard to characterize. It is not quite a concert and certainly not a party. With its decentralized landscape, multiple activities and artistic vibe, Groove at the Glen might better be described as simply a gathering. Some 200 students came together for the second iteration of the arts-focused event last Friday. For the informal, unnamed student group that organizes the Groove events, the second installment of the group’s semester-long community project proved it a vital and viable event with promise for constant evolution.

“[At the first Groove at the Glen] we created a model. We made and will continue to make minor changes, getting new musical acts and new art supplies. But we know we can execute this and that it works pretty well,” Groove at the Glen organizer and Critical Theory and Social Justice (CTSJ) major August Polstein (senior) said.

The overall aim of the Groove planners is to use Sycamore Glen for a variety of events. The two Grooves so far have been focused on music and dancing, but an early evening of barbecue, arts and crafts and conversation is in the works for the next event. Such an event would end by 10 p.m., before many students’ typical evening activities even begin.

By design, Groove at the Glen aims to defy prevailing trends in student social life.

“There’s this notion that for students that like to do things on weekends the only thing to do is get wasted and go to dances,” Art History and Visual Arts major Jack Baker (junior) said. “The idea is to get off of that train. You don’t have to smoke or drink or buy into the party system. But if you do, it’s a safe place to be. You can dance, and it’s not uncomfortable. You can talk. You can sit down and lie on some pillows. You can paint some pictures.”

The second Groove at the Glen hosted a diverse group of musical acts, beginning just after 9 p.m. with a performance by Campus Security, a five-piece rock band made up of Occidental sophomore students. The Moonlit Trio, a group of Los Angeles natives, followed up with their unique fusion of roots rock and Latin American Cumbia music. The sound was different from that usually heard at student parties but was well-received by energetic groups of dancers.

Audience members had the opportunity to participate in the performance as well, resulting in an impromptu rap performance by undeclared Adam Kelsick (first-year).

The final performance came from Hotel Garuda, a DJ duo consisting of economics major Aseem Mangaokar (junior) and George Mason University student Manila Killa. Their hard-hitting trap and electronic dance music ended the night at an apex of energy.

As musicians took their turns upon the stage, students adorned a canvas with layers of paint, creating constantly-changing, graffiti-like murals.

Many students appreciated the atmosphere in Sycamore Glen for its difference from other social scenes.

“I like the Groove better than dances. It’s better organized. There’s a place to dance and a place to sit,” undeclared Kyle McCue (first-year) said. “And it’s good for the performers to get a chance to play for a crowd that wants to listen.”

Undeclared major Lindsay Weinberg (sophomore) expressed what she thought the Groove brings to Occidental.

“There’s something uniquely ‘college’ about people convening near where they all live, listening to music, having a great time and keeping it chill without much pretension,” Weinberg said.

Organizers hope that their attempt to switch up the social scene on campus will be a community effort.

“Anyone can walk up and say ‘I want to be a part of this. We’re a community, not a hierarchy. Anyone can take the reins and get things going,” Groove organizer and sociology major Kirk Folette (senior) said.

Despite the Groove’s success, the team behind the show has had difficulty gathering large crowds at an event before 11 p.m., particularly an event that does not meet some students’ standards for a normative Friday night party. However, the organizers stress the importance of making art and performance space available, a value inherent in Groove’s unique blend of artistic and social life.