In my first two years at Occidental, I have experienced events all around campus — some better than others. Last year, White Panda put on a passable show in front of Thorne Hall, Toga-clad heathens raged in the Quad and Macklemore got scared of the rain and forced us to pack into Rush Gym like sardines. This year, Sycamore Glen revealed itself to be an ideal venue for smaller gatherings and Chance the Rapper played a great show despite the awkward layout of the Quad. One venue, an Occidental staple, is noticeably missing from this list: the Greek Bowl.
I have been to the Greek Bowl more times than I can keep track of but until SpringFest this year, never for an event. Most of my trips to the Greek Bowl have been at 6:30 a.m. sweating it out with my teammates on the football team or going for a walk at sunset to take in the view from Fiji Hill. Talib Kweli’s concert opened my eyes to the venue’s potential.
The Greek Bowl is by far the best concert venue on campus, and considering how much fun many had at SpringFest, it ought to be used as much as possible. Its location and structure are ideal, and make up for the shortcomings of these other venues on campus.
In the Quad, easy access to The Tiger Cooler is definitely a plus. However, the spaces in front of the Marketplace or Thorne Hall are awkwardly long, while the performance space in front of Thorne Hall is comparatively short and cramped. Unless students are among the first to arrive to these venues, they are forced to fight their way through the fray or be left in the back to stand or aimlessly shuffle around.
Sycamore Glen, with a canopy of trees, picnic tables and a centralized dance floor, is an ideal and comfortable space for a small crowd, but too small to suit the needs of an entire student body.
Shows in Rush Gymnasium feel very high school to begin with, while the Greek Bowl offers a much more grandeur setting. Most students who attended the Macklemore show last year can remember the delays due to students crowding the stage. The relentless crowd of encroaching fans that had Macklemore balking would not have been an issue in the Greek Bowl. However, Macklemore only played indoors because there was a chance of rain. There must be a way that a canopy system of some sort could be built at the Greek Bowl for such an event.
Another common flaw among other venues is that the surrounding space is not organized in a way that focuses people’s attention on the stage while also allowing patrons to comfortably move around the space.
The tiered seating of the Greek Bowl is certainly more conducive to socializing than the bleachers in Rush Gymnasium. The gym bleachers make concert-goers feel like they are being watched from the side, where the steps of the Greek Bowl allow small groups to congregate along the edges of the concert while still being able to dance and take in the whole of the experience.
The dance floor is spacious enough that it allows aggressive dancers to dance their hearts out up front, but others are able to flail around freely as they please in the surrounding areas without feeling isolated.
Granted, the walk up to the Greek Bowl might serve as an obstacle to more inebriated concert-goers, and Campus Safety has a more confined space in which to watch students. However, the aesthetic advantages of the space should negate any of the disadvantages. Why the Greek Bowl has not been used for bacchanal celebrations like Toga, Glow or SpringFest more often in recent years, I will never know. But I certainly hope that Occidental brings dances back, and that when they do, they realize the potential of one of their most neglected event spaces.
Malcolm MacLeod is a sophomore Media Arts and Culture major. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @WklyMMacLeod.