Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Delayed and Flayed

By: Regina Spurlock

Frustrated and upset, students demand a refund after waiting for over two hours in CCNY’s Aronow Theatre for WCCR’s DJ/ B-boy battle to start.

“I am so disappointed,” Niesha, a paying patron, said after waiting in vain for the event to start.

After an hour, the show still hadn’t started and very few tickets had been sold. Around 9:00, the show still hadn’t begun and the ticket master stated disgustedly, “The number of free admissions outnumbers the number of paying guests!”

The DJ/B-boy battle was supposed pay homage to old-school Hip-Hop but instead, it quickly became much more of a disgrace than a tribute. WCCR’s staff of students’ lack of professionalism and promotion led to an insignificant amount of tickets being sold. And consequently, the event, which was supposed to be a competition commencing at 7:00 PM, turned into a showcase of performances that started well after 9:00 PM.

At approximately 8:00, I counted seven people waiting in the seats of Aronow Theater. These seven had the pleasure of listening to the obnoxiously loud music being spun by the four or five DJ’s who had been on stage since 7:00 PM. Even though the audience was extremely small, it was quite diverse. The paying audience consisted of Blacks, Asians, Latinos, and Whites. However, the performers and the crowd of WCCR personnel were black, with the exception of a few Latinos.

Most of those who were present at the event were students, interested in Hip-Hop, and had learned of the DJ/ B-boy Battle via their friends who are members of the WCCR student radio station at CCNY. And although the even started and ended late, many students indicated that they would come to this event again. As for the two students who asked for a refund, I doubt that their enthusiasm would be as high. Both of students were reporting for CCNY campus papers.

By 8:30, some of the audience opted to sit on the floor outside of the theatre; and at 8:45, most of the performers were just arriving. And these performers were not DJs or B-boys, which the event specified, but rappers – tons of rappers. According to WCCR’s Mikhael, the group of B-boys who actually arrived on time was having some internal conflicts typical of boy bands. And another group of B-boys refused to show after learning that the event would be a showcase rather than an actual competition with a prize.

The rappers seemed to be more in sync than the dancers. One of the rappers, Your Highness from Jamaica, Queens, was cool, calm and looking forward to a good show and a solid performance. To the delight of the audience waiting in the hallway, he even gave a preview of his lyrical prowess. On the other hand, another rapper shared that he was not excited and feared that he would screw up. In fact, he bought a ticket after deciding not to perform.

It is evident that this event failed in many aspects. But in determining whether effort should be exerted toward hosting another DJ/ B-boy battle next year, more factors should be examined.

Iolani, president of WCCR, hoped that 500 people would attend the event. “To be real with you, I don’t know how many people are going to show up [since] no tickets have been sold yet. Things are feeling a little shaky...but we're hoping that things turn around for the better by [the Monday before the event],” Iolani stated. No, the DJ/ B-boy Battle did not draw a substantial crowd. This was due in part to the other events competing for student support on the same day and time; potential customers were attending the play at Aaron Davis Hall and Africa Live. Also, the event was scheduled for a Thursday at 7:00 PM, which is not the most convenient or attractive time for students.

But the biggest failure and the most detrimental setback was the promotion of the event. WCCR advertised by posting flyers throughout the campus’s buildings, sending messages and comments on facebook and myspace which were sent late, and via word of mouth, which seemed to be the most effective method. The event was also advertised through announcements at other student events as well as on WCCR’s AM radio waves. But since the radio station is only broadcasted on the AM radio in Harlem and in the lobby of the North Academic Center at CCNY, the announcements probably did not reach many listeners.

Tear Drop, a DJ at WCCR who is also the in house DJ at club La Pregunta, admitted that he did not promote to his full potential. “I know for a lot of people, outside of school, WCCR is not the top priority. We are busy doing other stuff. So I know that I didn’t promote as much as I could have.” When asked if he thought this event would happen again next year, he responded, “Maybe – if promotion was better. But really, once students have spent all day at school, are they going to want to stay at school for an event?” Tear Drop affirmed his love and support for CCNY and CCNY student events, not only through words, but also by his actions; Almost every Thursday, he plays reggae, hip-hop, merengue and bachata music and encourages students to dance and have a fun time in the NAC Rotunda or on the NAC patio. But he was still not sure how to draw a crowd to the DJ/ B-boy Battle.

WCCR’s failed promotion of the show was not entirely to blame. For one, this was the first DJ/ B-boy battle, meaning that this event was sort of a “trial and error” or “learn from your mistakes” situation.

Also, the Finley Student Center contributed much of the confusion. The event was to originally take place on December 7, 2008. But Finley mandated that the event be rescheduled, resulting in the loss of a performance by hip-hop legend, Mos Def. The DJ/ B-boy battle was rescheduled for April 24, 2009. But again, Finley required that the event be rescheduled, resulting in the loss of a performance by Status Quo, B-boys who became famous after being finalists on America’s Next Best Dance Crew.

Since WCCR lost performers that would have drawn in a huge crowd, the DJ/ B-boy battle experienced minimal success. But this event has the potential to be drastically better and largely successful if WCCR learns from its mistakes and solves the problems in the areas of promotion, event scheduling, and event planning.