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Grinnell’s Harris parties and concerts finally return

There+used+to+be+Grinnell+without+COVID-19%2C+it+was+just+a+long+time+ago.+Photo+contributed+by+Mai+Vu+Phuong+%E2%80%9821.%0A
There used to be Grinnell without COVID-19, it was just a long time ago. Photo contributed by Mai Vu Phuong ‘21.

Concerts and Harris parties are back this semester, and for the first time since March 2020, they will be hosted indoors at the Harris Center Concert Hall. This comes at a great relief to the Grinnell College student body since these events have traditionally served as pillars of Grinnell College social life.  

Harris parties are typically hosted on Saturday nights and are themed with decorations, curated playlists and dressed-accordingly attendees.  explained that if enough student groups book and coordinate with SGA, there can be up to nine Harris parties this semester, excluding the weekends dedicated to Winter Waltz and Drag Show.  

This Saturday night, 90s Harris will be cohosted by two student groups, Concerned Black Students (CBS) and African Caribbean Student Union (ACSU), and will go from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m.  Nair explained his thoughts about how the previous in-person semester was lacking in ACE events.  

“Last semester, we sort of transitioned to finally coming back to campus after going through online schooling. So, most people did not know how social life is at Grinnell and last semester was also not the best representation of what social life could be. So, this semester, with admin’s approval, we can have these events running up again. I feel like this will make a big difference on what social life is like at Grinnell,” said Nair. 

According to Nair, the proposal review committee no longer has to review events that will be completely masked and have no food or drink present. However, “any events that have alcohol, food or any type of potential unmasked exposure still need to go through the proposal review committee,” said Nair. 

While Harris dance parties are the lively cap to a well-deserved weekend, Grinnell concerts frequently draw a more intimate crowd on Friday nights to experience the star-studded performances that the concerts committee curates. Last semester, Grinnell Concerts hosted one outdoor concert, Juan Wauters, and another indoor concert in collaboration with Grinnell Prize Week, Talibah Safiya. Robby Burchit `23, concerts committee chair, booked artist Magdalena Bay for a concert on Friday, Feb. 24.  

“They’re on this tour right now and a lot of their shows are getting sold out, so it’s going to be really fun,” said Burchit. 

Before the COVID-19 pandemic started, most Grinnell concerts were held in Gardner Lounge in the basement of Main Hall. Gardner Lounge has not yet been deemed a COVID-19-safe event space.  

Burchit seemed optimistic about the potential for Gardner reopening. 

“We’re working on having shows back in Gardner, but things are still getting reworked and cleaned up in there. And also, there were some COVID-19 safety issues initially, but those guidelines are shifting,” said Burchit. 

Last semester, we sort of transitioned to finally coming back to campus after going through online schooling. So, most people did not know how social life is at Grinnell and last semester was also not the best representation of what social life could be. -Student Government Association’s (SGA) All Campus Events (ACE) Coordinator Aditya Nair `23

Weekend events like Harris parties and concerts also depend on the management of student safety to make spaces inclusive and comfortable for all in attendance. All Campus Events Student Safety (ACESS) oversee this task, with a staff of student workers who are available for the assistance and support of students in need during the event. Currently, the discretion for when ACESS will be deployed or hired for events is unclear and still being communicated to the student body. 

Although Burchit confirmed that there will be at least five other shows to be hosted by Grinnell Concerts, he is still unsure if he will be releasing the entire line-up for the semester at once or on an individual show-by-show basis.  

When asked about the types of artists and genres that will be represented this semester, including rap, R&B, pop, experimental and indie rock. 

Burchit said he’s “trying to give everybody a little bit of everything. I’m trying to make sure that I have a diverse range of musical artists, from different backgrounds and in different musical genres. … So that people with different tastes have stuff and to kind of like expand the student body’s tastes as well, or just like, have different concert experiences.”  

 

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