Solarity Seeks to Revitalize Social Scene

Caroline Hui

By the end of their first semester, current College sophomores Eli Clark-Davis and Tom Hake were fed up with nightlife at Oberlin. They disliked how the house parties were always so crowded, hot and sweaty. They were tired of Safety and Security breaking up parties at midnight or earlier. The ’Sco was no better — general consensus is that it is only acceptable to go on Wednesday nights.

“When a prospie comes, you tell him or her, ‘[We have] Drag Ball and Safer Sex Night,’ which [can be] a motivating factor to come here,” Clark-Davis said. “Other times, people are weirded out by it because they both promote provocative dress. A lot of the parties here have a social issue driving them behind it. It can make people feel uncomfortable. You don’t see people attending these events because they don’t feel comfortable with it.”

Working off of Oberlin’s small campus, Clark-Davis and Hake wanted to bring an even more close-knit, community feel to the school.

“There’s a feel of community, but this is such a small school,” Clark-Davis said. “There should be more of a community. Everything feels far apart from one another, so a lot of people don’t get to unite at sporting events, or concert recitals, or plays. People are uniting, but it’s such a small percentage.”

So over the 2011 Winter Term, Clark-Davis, Hake and four other students decided they were going to do something to remedy the social scene at Oberlin. When they came back to campus at the end of January, they founded Solarity, an organization that seeks to unite the campus through music, dance and interactive arts.

The co-founders worked closely with the administration and businesses in town to launch Solarity.

“We don’t hide anything from [the administration],” Clark-Davis said. “We tell them straightforward what we’re going to do and what will be [at events].”

“Everyone’s been supportive from the beginning because we’ve been so organized and determined,” Hake added. “We came up with the idea, and we were determined to get it done. We wanted to make it a reality. We wanted to make it come true.”

After months of planning, Solarity will host its first event, the Neon Garden, on Saturday, April 30 in the Science Center atrium. The event will feature laser light shows, body paint, art installations, and four student DJs.

“It’s not going to be the same atrium you see every day,” Hake said. “It’s not going to be your mom and dad’s atrium. It’ll truly be a Neon Garden, however you want to imagine that.”

True to Solarity’s mission statement, the co-founders wanted to host an event that everyone on campus could relate to, regardless of background.

“[Everyone] can find something interesting at our parties,” Clark-Davis said. “If you don’t like to drink, we don’t serve alcohol at our parties. If you like viewing art on the weekends, this is a completely new exhibit to view art in. And if you’re not feeling the art vibe, there’s the largest dance party on campus.”

“It’s kind of showing our strengths almost,” Hake said. “Oberlin’s strengths of art, dance, music, cool laser shows — that’s art in itself, right? We’re celebrating Oberlin, but a more united Oberlin.”

According to Clark-Davis and Hake, Solarity and the organization’s goals have received positive feedback.

“Dean [Linda] Gates told us that this is the perfect idea at the perfect time, and we really take that to heart, and it motivates us,” Clark-Davis said. “We have a huge opportunity here at Oberlin to make large events that people can look forward to constantly.

“We’re not here to make money. We want everyone to have the most fun possible, and we want to make our events a staple of the Oberlin College experience.”