’Sco Seniors Reminisce, Appreciate Campus Community Space


Katie Ryan-O'Flaherty

The senior ’Sco staff, from left to right: Dan Nerenhausen, Julie Schreiber, Olivia Ercilla Antrobus, Maya Blumenberg-Taylor, Emma Broun, and Meg Parker.

The Dionysus Disco — or as it is best known, the ’Sco — is one of the most notorious and beloved spaces on Oberlin’s campus. Dionysus was the Greek god of the grape harvest, fertility, theater, wine, ritual chaos, and religious ecstasy. I don’t know about harvesting grapes or fertility, but anyone who has turned out for a Wednesday night Splitchers has participated in a kind of ritual chaos and can attest to the religious ecstasy of this hallowed ground. 

It follows, then, that the energy behind the counter surpasses even that of the patrons who come flowing through the doors. If you know a student who works at the ’Sco, then you know that the staff love their jobs. 

Many of the staff members got their jobs when they were first-years or sophomores because they wanted to be more involved on campus. For some ’Sco senior staffers, it’s been a crucial part of their entire Oberlin experience and is more than a customer service job — it has taught them how to create an inclusive community. 

College senior Dan Nerenhausen, who started as an attendant but is now a project manager, is well aware of the multiple purposes of the venue. 

“The interesting part about being an on-campus bar is you have to balance being a space for underage people and for people who can drink,” he said. “[Around] 75 percent of the people on campus at any given time can’t legally drink, and you can’t get away with fakes there because it’s all student IDs.”

So, the staff gets creative. Events at the ’Sco range from musically mosh-able to thought-provoking, from unabashedly quirky to deeply cultured, from weirdly specific to purely fun. 

Just take a look at the calendar on its website — there’s something going on nearly every night of the week, illustrated with an intriguing picture. It follows that there’s something for everyone — the beloved Queer Beers, Professor Beers, TGIF, and, yes, Splitchers. There are also several weekly musical acts from campus groups and groups booked by the Student Union Programming Committee. There are also unique events like ABBA Trivia and Bob Ross Paint Night. They ensure the return of semesterly fan favorites like Senior Night and the Coverband Showcase. The ’Sco screens the Grammys, the Oscars, the Superbowl, and major political events like the State of the Union. This month they’re hosting a Melanin Monday series for Black History Month. They’re the location for Oberlin’s bi-weekly talk show Good Talk. 

“I think it’s the most unique campus job in terms of what you’re doing and how much control you have over the space,” Nerenhausen said. 

As a manager, he and others attend weekly meetings to plan events, decide what products to order, and organize advertising. They also deal with student bookings for the space (request a booking via [email protected]). Then, on the night of the events, “You’re bartending, you’re setting up every night — and it varies based on the event. So you could be stocking beer or setting up for an ABUSUA ball or something really interesting like that. But then throughout the night you’re just managing operations. For Splitchers, there are like 450 people in there, so it’s a real college bar atmosphere. But then you also have nights where it’s classical music or a concert.” 

It’s also a true customer service job, not unlike working in Campus Dining Services. 

“Strangely, I think it is the hardest parts of the job that make it a great place to work,” wrote College senior and ’Sco manager Olivia Ercilla Antrobus in an email to the Review. “Of course I like music and concerts, but one does not have to work at the ’Sco to enjoy those events. When the lights come on at the end of a Splitchers, and you find yourself cleaning up beer spills from 1–2 a.m. in Wilder basement, you develop a weird bond with the rest of the staff. … Having the same people help you out night after night also helps cement that bond.”

Nerenhausen and Ercilla Antrobus both enjoy the people-watching that comes with working at a place like the ’Sco. While Nerenhausen affectionately describes much of the activity out on the dance floor as “cringy,” he also loves the people he meets just because of being the guy behind the counter. He likens it to bartending at a local bar in a small town with a bunch of regulars. 

“Commencement is … always a blast to work,” Ercilla Antrobus wrote. “I wish I had the dance repertoire of some of the alumni.” 

When asked if he would miss his job, Nerenhausen replied without hesitation. 

“For sure,” he said. “I mean, I could picture myself bartending outside of school. But as a bartender at a real bar, you don’t have control over the space. You’re just doing what management decides. So I think that aspect is super unique. And there is an onus on the ’Sco to be ‘the space’ on campus, because there are such limited social opportunities sometimes at Oberlin. People really do look to the ’Sco, as much as they trash it sometimes, to have those events that are popular or that are the key events of the semester … I’m going to miss it so much.” 

Ercilla Antrobus said it in one word: “Absolutely!”