Wong center to be student nightclub

By Heather Scroering

Dance parties, improv shows and video game nights are just three of the potential festivities that will be held in the newly remodeled Quincy Wong Center for Artistic Expression in the Wabash Campus Building, 623 S. Wabash Ave.

The soft opening for the Quincy Wong Center begins today, Nov. 14, and will continue all week with several events hosted by classes in the Art and Design and the Arts, Entertainment and Media

Management departments.

“The goal is to provide a space for students living on campus, especially for the under[age] students who don’t have a lot of options to hang out at night,” said Ronda Dibbern, manager of Exhibition and Performance Spaces. “Most clubs and concerts are 21-plus. The primary goal is to create a performance space or a lounge so students can hang out [and] not [be] stuck in their dorm rooms.”

Kari Sommers, assistant dean of Student Life, said her idea of a student-run night club was inspired by the Hokin Initiative that launched in fall 2010, in which faculty and students worked together to transform the Hokin Gallery into a student-run exhibition space.

Sommers also said she came up with the idea after seeing many posts on Columbia’s Facebook app of students complaining about boredom on the weekends.

“Every Thursday, Friday [and] Saturday, I would see posts over and over again about how students were bored,” Sommers said. “It surprised me because my first thought was, ‘Wow, you’re in … Chicago, and you can’t find anything to do?’ And then it occurred to me that so many students are under 21—especially in residence halls—and they’re in the Loop, which kind of closes down at night. So they actually don’t have anything to do.”

The Quincy Wong Center closed after Manifest in May 2011, and the construction of the space continued during the summer, according to Dibbern. Remodeling plans include new track lighting, custom-made furniture and expansion of the stage for a better performance space.

Three classes, including Branding Identity, taught by Richard Zeid, associate professor in the A+D Department, and two Presenting and Booking Live Performances classes led by Kathleen Butera, lecturer in the AEMM Department, and Vanessa Moss, adjunct in the AEMM Department, produced the events throughout the week.

Zeid’s class has been working throughout the semester to conceptualize the aesthetics of the space. The students came up with individual designs, and through critique and evaluation, chose four of the strongest concepts. Zeid said the students worked in teams to further the concepts and develop a name, brand and how the space will look.

“Some of the most successful brands listen to their consumers and design for their consumers’ needs,” Zeid said. “Seeing that this is a space for students, I think having it designed, run, operated and created by students is a smart thing on the school’s part to get the success going for it. I think it’ll be really exciting.”

Zeid’s Branding and Identity students will present their ideas at the second event of the opening on Nov. 15 at 10 a.m.

Moss and Butera’s classes have been focusing on the programming of the space. Butera’s class is in charge of the Red Carpet Opening event today that features bands and deejays. Moss’ class event, the Wongood Party, is on Nov. 16 at 7:30 p.m.

According to Bob Reisig, senior AEMM major and student in Moss’ class, the event will provide music by a student deejay, a performance from an outside dance company that is managed by a student in the class and glow-in-the-dark fabric markers that students can use to draw on white sheets.

Though the events in the Quincy Wong Center launched the new student space, there is much work to be done, Dibbern said. Construction of the center will continue during J-Term, when the majority of the remodeling will occur.

The soft opening events are meant to generate feedback from the community. According to Butera, the AEMM Department will offer a course in spring 2012, called Club Management, in which students of all majors will have the opportunity to program events for the space on weekends.

“It’s hard to make friends when you move to a new place,” Sommers said. “[Students will] have a place to go where it’s casual and informal, and it also celebrates

Columbia talent.”