The annual Welcome Back Jam, an alcohol and drug-free alternative to the debauchery associated with the first weekend at college, was held on Friday Sept. 4 in front of the MacVittie College Union. It was wholesome, heartfelt and uncomfortable. At its peak, roughly 35 people were at the Jam. The whole affair felt like an awkward school dance. There was a zip line, a popcorn machine, a bounce house and a live musical act. None of these, however, were able to pull the student wallflowers away from the sidelines. The Jam perfectly captured the uncomfortable innocence associated with high schoolers.
Hip-hop artist Luke Christopher and his fellow band members bravely performed in the face of a less-than-enthused crowd, but it’s difficult to really “get the party started” with a shy audience.
Perhaps one of the most significant moments of Christopher’s performance was when one of the two audience members dancing off to the side was brought on stage. Christopher sung directly to her, giving her a personal performance. The song was about wanting to have casual sex with a girl. This was after the DJ had called a few times for the ladies to get up, dance and come onto the stage. He was unsuccessful.
The overall discomfort of the crowd didn’t seem to be because of Christopher—it was more of a reflection of the Welcome Back Jam itself. Its earnest and sincere attempt to be an alternative to the usual college Friday night made it feel infantile. As a result, it kept crowds away.
The intended age demographic of the event could be questioned on multiple accounts. The presence of a bounce house came off as immature and silly, but Christopher’s music was heavily centered on motifs such as sex, drugs and alcohol. This conflicting dichotomy was unsettling and seemed to push many students away from the event.
One group of audience members mentioned that they had come to try and make new friends. After sitting around for only a few minutes, however, they shifted uncomfortably around in their seats and decided to watch the sunset instead.
The artificial environment of the event couldn’t compare with the appeal of natural connections. Although the Welcome Back Jam was well orchestrated and was held with nothing but good intentions, it was simply awkward.