On Feb. 1, The Student Activities Board (S.A.B.) hosted a coffee house in Jammin’ Java with the theme “Singing through the Ages.” Performers played songs from bands throughout the decades, such as Bob Dylan and Journey, as well as some originals too.
Krista Barnett, the S.A.B. Advisor, says that events like this are often thought of and planned out long before they actually occur.
“For all of our events, we pretty much come up with a list of ideas and brainstorm what we want to do either at the beginning of the year, or for this semester, it was back in November to kind of plan out ahead of time. For coffee houses in particular, we have a few different sub-groups. We call them committees in S.A.B. We have the performing arts committee, the special events committee, the marketing committee, and dances and entertainment committee. Performing arts is the one who does a lot of our coffeehouses.”
Organizing these opportunities is not as simple as it may seem though. Katherine Beatty, head of the performing arts committee, is responsible for making sure these events go off without a hitch.
“First we plan a theme for the coffee house. So, this past event was decade themed, like 70s, 80s and 90’s, and then after we come up with a theme we have to find decorations that are in budget to go with the theme, along with refreshments,” said Beatty. “Then, we do auditions. Auditions are usually a week or so before the coffee house, sometimes two weeks, people come and do their audition, and usually everyone gets to go in.
And then I communicate with them throughout the week to find out what song they’re singing, and for this one I wanted to know which decade it was from. And then the day of, we get there two hours early and decorate everything, set up the stage, set up all the refreshments and do soundchecks to make sure all of their sound stuff works, and after all that, we finally start the event.”
Coffee houses are a long-held tradition at Eastern, with S.A.B. hosting at least one per semester. Though unsure of when they first began, Barnett agrees that they are a familiar event on campus.
“I know we have some old files from the early 2000s, and if you do some deep searching on S.A.B.’s Facebook, you’ll find some real throwback pictures from around the early 2000s of people doing coffee houses. So, it is something that has been a tradition at Eastern,” said Barnett.
The same tradition that drives coffee houses also serves to motivate SAB to keep every individual event fresh. Despite hosting three coffee houses this year, the performing arts committee works to be sure each time offer a fun, new experience.
“I think that’s why we try to spice it up and make something new, because it’s great to have traditions, but I think doing the same event over and over again gets boring, I think that’s why we try to have different themes and have different people perform… we like variety, but we also value the tradition of the event,” said Barnett.
Despite the fun and the tradition of the event, though, Beatty says the most important part of the coffeehouses is providing a space for people to celebrate their talents.
“I think coffee houses give everyone a chance to be out there, because not everyone is super open with being able to sing, like, I know people who can sing but they won’t do it in front of people usually, so it gives them the chance to be out there and express themselves through song or spoken word or dance in ways they may not have been able to before,” Beatty said.