For the past two years, the Shiva Rave has lived on with a huge stigma and a bad reputation for getting shut down two years ago. But on Wednesday, May 21, Vassar College Sound System (VCSS), a campus organization dedicated to celebrating electronic dance music, ViCE, and The Shiva Theater Staff will revive the event—in the form of a DJ showcase—as a chance for senior DJs to emcee one final time before they graduate.
Exodus: Return to the Shiva will occur on Wednesday, May 21 from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. in the Shiva Theater. Students Dan Shaw ’14, Matt Choe ’14, and Finley Bomer-Lawson ’14—or, better known under their handles as Fallrisk, Caught, and Finder-kind—will be djing.
Bomer-Lawson said, “Artist-wise, this isn’t something where we’re bringing in outside talent. It’s a chance for the senior DJs to essentially do a showcase of the different styles of music we play and work with.”
One of the goals of the Shiva Showcase is to convert Vassar’s black-box theater into a high-energy space reminiscent of a New York City club, complete with fully immersive lighting, fog, and the sound experience. “The sets we’ll be playing are going to change throughout the night, working to create an intimate beginning, intense, dance-crazy middle, and a bit of a cathartic, emotional ending,” said Bomer-Lawson.
Another goal of the event is to bring back the Shiva Rave—but in a more controlled and less problematic manner. Bomer cited the shut-down of the all-campus Shiva Rave as an example of the administration’s bad relationship with the Shiva.
“Our history with the Shiva goes back a while, but most notably to our freshman year,” explained Bomer-Lawson.
“The administration banned the Shiva ‘Rave’ from happening after too many people got out of control then. So this event is a return to what the Shiva used to be like for us, something many people in our class remember, while showing the school that we can throw a crazy party in an organized, new way,” said Bomer-Lawson.
Axel Yung ’13, who DJed the event in its last two years before being shut down, wrote in an e-mailed statement, “The Shiva rave is always a blast. It’s probably the best org-sponsored campus event that I’ve ever played.”
“People are always really excited so they show up early and pretty much down for whatever you throw at them,” he continued. Plus with the light show that the Shiva staff put on, it’s always a great party. (Shout out to Rovner!)”
For current campus DJs, and Yung before them, the Shiva Showcase/Rave offers students the opportunity to DJ on a large scale. “Being a DJ on campus often means that you have to be your own sound technician, too. A lot of the time you’ll get asked to DJ a party at the THs and when you get there, the sound system is like nothing what they told you,” stated Yung.
“Coming to VCSS events and helping to set up (even though you might not play) is a good experience for when you have to do it all yourself,” he said
In a time where EDM is growing in popularity and many young people are trying their hand at DJing, the Shiva Showcase will hopefully serve as an event for amateur DJs to aspire to perform at on campus.
“As a freshman, I’ve only heard stories about how fun the Shiva Rave was—minus it getting shut down. I hope that, with a bit of practice, I’ll be able to DJ an event that is so highly attended and so greatly anticipated,” said budding DJ Jake Sottak ’17, whose handle is “DJ Chin-shank.”
For budding campus DJs who are interested in emceeing at larger venues like the Shiva in the future, Yung offers some pieces of advice: “Being a DJ on campus is all about talking to people and figuring out when and where you might get the chance to play,” he said.
Yung emphasized the opportunity that DJing at the Shiva can offer. “Most people on campus don’t know anyone but the senior DJs, so helping to get to know other students who mix can help you get gigs in the future. For larger parties there are often more than one set so DJs usually ask their friends or acquaintances if they want to play.”
While there is an open-environment for campus DJs at most parties during the year, the Shiva Rave will focus strictly upon the artistry and sound of Shaw, Choe, and Bomer-Lawson.
“I mostly play techno, tech-house, deep house kind of styles,” said Bomer-Lawson. “There’ll be a good amount of that from me with some unexpected stuff thrown in there.”
I like to build sets that try to move forward and create a sort of journey, although that sounds so cheesy,” he continued. “My DJ style involves layering lots of songs together to ideally create new sounds out of them.”
While all of those attending the event intend to enjoy themselves and have a good time, some students are especially excited for the artistic value in the Showcase.
Scottak in particular is also looking forward to the Shiva events that may happen in the future. “Yeah, I’m really excited to have fun and break a sweat dancing, but I think that I can learn a lot about what it means to get the crowd going and put on a good show,” said Sottak. “And, if all goes well, hopefully I’ll be able to DJ at my senior Shiva Rave. 2017, watch out.”