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Finding Community in Oberlin’s “Nightlife”

November 29, 2021

Lucas Ritchie-Shatz ’25

On a rainy night in October, as the power flickered in and out, a crowd of Oberlin students of all ages and backgrounds gathered under a white tent outside of Wilder Hall. My roommate had convinced me, despite my exhaustion, to attend a concert of two bands I’d never heard of. My friends and I, catalyzed by his excitement for the main performer, Chicago indie-rock band Dehd, met up and stood awkwardly as the opener, fellow Chicago locals Bnny, set up, having no idea what to expect. As more people arrived, I was excited to see people I knew and people I didn’t, meeting friends of friends and strangers alike. Ever since I’d come to campus, I’d found the atmosphere among new students nothing but friendly, and it delighted me to get to meet so many new people. Coming from New York City, it was exciting to share experiences with people from all over the country, and the world, outside the insular community of NYC culture. 

My roommate Raghav and I after moshing in the pit.
My roommate Raghav and I after moshing
in the pit.

By the middle of Bnny’s set, a considerable number of people had gathered, forming a circle. People ran into the middle and danced, everyone cheering, regardless of their skill or grace. I dragged my dancing-shy roommate in with me, feeling the communal joy of being allowed to gather and hear live music once again. As even more people arrived and Dehd’s set began, dancing turned to moshing. I was exhilarated by the pleasure of an experience I hadn’t had in over two years. I felt so lucky to feel safe enough to share in the beautiful and messy art of losing yourself in a crowd. I could just tell how elated everyone was to be able to be around each other again, after the cold isolation of COVID times.

Despite the fact that I think my roommate was the only person I knew who liked the band beforehand, the shared love of live music had brought so many people in the Oberlin community together in a way I didn’t know was possible. Being accepted in that crowd felt like finding a home among others I’d never felt in NYC, where oftentimes you feel deeply alone even though you’re surrounded by people. Seeing Dehd and Bnny with my friends was just one of many ways that Oberlin has made me feel deeply seen, and enormously grateful for my opportunity to have found such a great community so quickly.


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