Solarity Sunset Event Takes Over Wilder Bowl

The Science Center Atrium, Heisman Field House, North Quad, Mudd parking lot, the Root Room, Wilder Bowl, Hales Gymnasium. What do all these places have in common? They have all hosted various iterations of Solarity, the closest party Oberlin has to a rave.

Originally co-sponsored by Solarity coordinators and the now-defunct Royal Thread Collective, these party-type semesterly events have taken place on Oberlin’s campus since spring 2011, when the first Solarity event, Neon Garden, rocked the Science Center Atrium. As an event-management organization, Solarity was founded in Winter Term 2011 by several students who were “fed up with nightlife at Oberlin.” (“Solarity Seeks to Revitalize Social Scene,” The Oberlin Review, April 29, 2011) Their intention was to create a more tight-knit community on campus to celebrate music, dance, and interactive performing arts with a group run completely by students. Whether their goal has been realized over the past seven years with 14 different Solarity events — which have ranged from post-apocalyptic Fracture and Wasteland to the celestial Constellate and controversial Toxicity — is debatable, but there is little doubt that the events tend to be spectacular light shows featuring a talented range of student DJs.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for the student coordinators to help put together something that is a lot of fun for the campus,” said Assistant Director of Student Activities Sean Lehlbach, who is the administrative advisor for Solarity.

This spring’s Solarity event, called Sunset, is hosted in Wilder Bowl from 4:30–8:00 p.m. in coordination with TGIF and the ’Sco staff. While “rave” is definitely one of the words most associated with previous Solarity events, according to College senior and Solarity co-chair Rayna Holmes, Sunset is changing it up with a daylight carnival-esque party.

“[It’ll] be a big ‘darty’-like celebration-festival kind of thing,” she said. “We wanted to create an energy that’s, I guess, kind of different from what the energy is of Solarity at night. We still want it to be super exciting and super energetic and very engaging, but we also kind of want it to be — we’re thinking about ways to make it a bit more accessible to people who don’t like large, packed crowds in the middle of the night.”

Solarity has a long history of collaboration with other student organizations, a tradition that will be continued with today’s event. Holmes gave the Review a sneak preview of what that collaboration will look like.

“We’re going to be doing this kind of like ‘Solarity marketplace’ that posts other non-performing organizations,” she said. “People who want to sell their artwork at the end of the year or sell merch or stickers … SIC is handing out condoms and we’re also, I think, having a couple of food vendors where the funds will go to scholarship or charity-fund-type organizations.”

TGIF, an event that takes its name from the expression “Thank God It’s Friday” first heard in the 1940s, is usually free and held in Wilder Bowl from 4:30–6:30 p.m., but is instead included in Solarity’s programming today. Students who cruised through Wilder Bowl on Thursday caught a glimpse of how that would be achieved, as industrial fencing went up around green spaces to avoid the possibility of students sneaking into the ticketed event. TGIF’s presence in Sunset will manifest as an enclosed beer garden for attendees who are 21 and older — very on-brand from ’Sco staff.

Following Solarity’s goals of promoting student performance and artistic expression, the event will feature several student DJs, the majority of whom are POC. College sophomores Kyndelle Johnson and Brian Smith will be making their Solarity DJ debuts, and popular student musician Spice Lo — who released his first album, The Cabernet Façade, earlier this year — will also have a set.

Sunset’s headliner is California native and University of California, Berkeley graduate Charlie Yin, performing under the name of his music project Giraffage. Fresh off of the festival circuit — he had a set at Coachella earlier this year — and the release of full-length album Too Real last fall, Holmes described his sound as “very fun, bubbly music to go along with this kind of bubbly, celebratory end-of-the-school-year, last-day-of-classes type of event.”