By Haley Keizur
The blaring sounds of Campus Activities Board’s (CAB) flagship event Donaroo can usually be heard across campus, as students stand excitedly outside of War Memorial Gym waiting to dance it out. But this year, as a result of COVID-19, Donaroo looked a bit different.
More than 1,100 enjoyed the celebration on the evenings of March 10 and 11 via Zoom and the Donaroo website. The special guests were actor and comedian Dan Levy and rapper Joey Badass, who followed opener Sara Kays.
CAB President Charles Choi explained that planning Donaroo usually takes six to nine months, depending on who they are booking. “One of the biggest challenges that we have faced was, aside from the fact that we don’t have the campus grounds to work with, was getting people excited for Donaroo. We understood that, because people wouldn’t have the in-person experience, we would have to kind of work around it,” he said.
Due to the pandemic, CAB decided to take a new approach, branching out from the one-night lineup that usually marks Donaroo; hosting it over two nights for the first time.
In order to book performers, CAB uses BLAP Productions, a contracted company that streamlines communication between performers and bookers through a trial and error process, until a performer the CAB team wants, who is also within budget, is available. “Being in a virtual format was interesting because we had the opportunity to try something different. Because there are no limitations regarding distance, if people had internet access and the time, they could tune in from anywhere around the globe. We wanted to make sure that because there was that lack of in-person experience that we could incorporate more of the interaction between the headliners and the students,” Choi said.
Levy’s show “Schitt’s Creek” is popular among college students. There was an opportunity for dialogue between students and the comedian and actor, rather than simply observing a performance.
Before the scheduled event, students were able to submit videos of themselves asking a question of Levy. From his parents’ hosue in Canada, Levy answered various questions, such as: “What is it was like being openly queer in the entertainment industry?” “How did you create ‘Schitt’s Creek’ and the characters?” and “How do you balance your many roles in life and on the show?”
“It wasn’t about balancing so much as it was making sure that I was showing up prepared every day for those different jobs. For me, the most crucial thing is that you have to be able to be good at the work you’re taking on. I always try to never take on more than I think that I’ll be able to be good at, if that makes any sense because it’s better to be really, really good at one or two things, then like ‘ehhh’ at 10,” Levy said in response to the latter question.
Although he initially responded, “No, my life is absolutely chaotic,” Levy also offered some helpful advice on staying motivated and organized.
“Motivation comes with really loving what you do… To be able to tell the stories that I told in ‘Schitt’s Creek,’ and now to have an opportunity to continue to tell new stories that hopefully mean something, or help somebody, or affect some kind of positive change, that’s the motivation. It’s just being so grateful for the fact that I’m able to take up space in this industry, and try to do the best work that I possibly can with that space that I’m taking up,” he said.
Night two of Donaroo took on a different vibe, as Joey Bada$$ took the screen. Choi, who is a big fan of Badass, admitted that getting him as a headliner was a personal preference, but his choice was met with lots of support from fellow students. Choi explained that Bada$$ had a three-day rehearsal from the studio he tuned in from to prepare for his set. For the second night in a row, students gathered in squares to get hyped up for the performance.
Sara Kays kicked off the night with an acoustic set, and interacted with the chat as she performed. “It was a good first hour of people just in their feels, but in their feels together. The chat section was like ‘Oh my god, I’m crying now’ and others were like, ‘Me too!’ She received such a large amount of outpouring love from people. We didn’t know how many people knew her, but a lot of people already did, and then she got a lot of new fans that night,” Choi said.
Between sets, Choi, along with other CAB members, performed comical skit segments to keep the audience entertained. Finally, Bada$$ joined the stream live from Brooklyn, along with DJ and producer Statik Selektah. Choi said audience members were going “nuts” in the comments. Bada$$ performed some unreleased tracks, alongside fan favorites, such as “TEMPTATION,” “Paper Trail$,” “Love Is Only a Feeling,” “Devastated,” “Waves,” and “LAND OF THE FREE.”
According to Choi, CAB has received incredible feedback from students and other guests who joined them for the virtual experience.
“I thought Donaroo took on a creative and exciting way of gathering and including all students to come and enjoy the great headliners. It allowed for the students to feel connected and part of campus again. My favorite part was hearing Dan Levy share all his advice and insight on his journey,” Stella Culhane, sophomore psychology major said of the event.
The priority while planning Donaroo and other events is, “if students just can benefit from a fun event once in a while, help them interact with us, engage with peers, make new friends, create those new connections that USF would usually have brought us,” Choi said. “This past year has been one of our most difficult years, but based off of our planning process and our progress, it will only get better from here, we promise. You can quote me on that.”