Students Blast to the Past at Dons Night Out

Students capture Con Brio’s performance. PHOTO BY ELISE EMARD/SF FOGHORN

With funky live music, rainbow peace sign tattoos, and disco lights, new and returning Dons were immersed into the spirit of the ‘70s at Don’s Night Out on Aug. 22 in USF’s War Memorial Gym at the Sobrato Center.

Each year the Campus Activities Board (CAB) hosts Don’s Night Out, a lively finale to the new and transferring students orientation week. The event was the second in-person Don’s Night Out since the onset of the pandemic. According to CAB member Alexis Villadelgado, CAB hosted this event to help students release any back to school nerves and get to know their fellow Dons for one last night before the start of classes. “Even if you have different interests you can find some common ground here,” she said. And what better place to let loose and find common ground than San Francisco in the ‘70s?

To kick off the night, soul rock band Con Brio, performed a set of covers and original songs that had students dancing, cheering, and even moshing. The

 band hyped up the crowd in between songs, creating space for loud cheers and expressive dancing. Con Brio’s stage presence was unmatched as students were mesmerized by the group’s visuals; large horn instruments, bright colorful clothing, and dancing onstage. The name Con Brio means “with vigor,” and the group flaunted their vigor in full effect with powerful vocal range, eloquent instrumentations, and a soulful connection with Dons during their performance.

“Energy, especially in a live band, is something where if the band does a good job at generating it on stage it’s almost impossible for the audience not to feed off of that,” said lead singer Sarah Clarke.

And Con Brio’s vibes were in fact irresistible. The crowd absorbed and reciprocated the band’s high energy as USF’s War Memorial Gym quickly transformed into a retro dance hall. “There was this group in kind of the middle back and they were just going hard, it was almost like a mosh pit,” added Bliu, the band’s trumpet player. “It was a very strong symbiotic relationship we had,” lead singer Sarah Clarke added reminiscently.

Luckily for Dons, the party had only just begun at the conclusion of Con Brio’s performance. The event’s headliner, Marc E. Bassy took the stage and won over several hearts during his performance.

Marc E. Bassy connects with the crowd during his performance. PHOTO BY ELISE EMARD/SF FOGHORN

During Bassy’s set dancing, singing, and exciteful screams that could be heard from outside the gym ensued. Bassy was an electric performer, allowing students to get interactive with him by putting on jewelry tossed at him by impassioned fans and even taking selfies and videos on audience member’s cell phones during his performance. At the summit of his set, Bassy began spraying water bottles at his audience of sweaty, dancing Dons. Finishing the night with a bang, students united by pulling out their flashlights and waving them to Bassy’s last few songs, creating a special collective moment that would be nothing short of unforgettable.

Bassy grew up in San Francisco and was feeling sentimental being at a university in his hometown. “I grew up coming to this very place we are in. I was born here and I lived here throughout high school, so it feels good,” he said.

Bassy identifies as a folk “hero funk artist” and finds real joy in performing for his fans.

“That’s when I’m most comfortable, when I’m on stage. I feel at home.”

While some students got lost in the dazzling live performances, others tried their hand at Jenga and a bean bag toss. On the other side of the room, groups of students crammed into a photo booth to put their memories on paper. Some chose to print the night on their shoulders and arms at a temporary tattoo station. 

Dons get competitive playing Skee Ball. PHOTO BY ELISE EMARD/SF FOGHORN 

As Villadelgado put it, this night was a great “first impression” of USF and of the CAB events to come this year. 

“I like how they went all out for our last night,” said first-year architecture majorLuka Miloglav, who had attended USF’s other orientation events throughout the week. “I came here because I thought it was a great way to meet new people.”

For returning students, the event was a great opportunity to reflect on their time at USF and get back in the swing of life on the Hilltop.

“I was studying abroad and with COVID I haven’t been on campus much so I really came to revive the spirit of freshman year,” said fourth-year marketing major Carolina Verrini Lenzi.

Fourth-year architecture major, Wallace Lin, enjoyed looking back on his past years attending Don’s Night Out. “I feel nostalgic coming into the same space, there are just so many different people,” he said.

At 10 p.m. students merrily (and sweatily) exited the gymnasium with fried vocal chords and silly photos in their temporarily tattooed hands. Following a night of bonding, music, and games  Dons were prepared for a vibrant start to the new semester with their newfound friends.

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