Between the shrunken size and the open front wall, the Marshall Neon Rave of 2021 looked like a museum display designed to show aliens what prom looked like.
The white tent in the upper parking lot never exceeded a third of the 97 strong guest list at one time. Although the SGA claims 77 were in attendance, I was present for the entirety of the event, and attendance figures were never over 30 .
“We thought why not just focus on one thing, dancing or raving that everyone could enjoy together,” senior and SGA officer Eugene Cho said ahead of the rave. “The atmosphere may be similar to a mosh pit at a concert, so obviously the more people the better.”
The light attendance did not deter the organizers from doing their jobs: the administrator who found our names on the list turned away two people who had not reserved spots but tried to get in anyway.
“We were afraid that students may not be able to access formal wear, mainly because of time, and we also knew that many students have been planning their separate proms, so we thought that it would be nice to offer an event that is totally different from what is normally done,” Cho said. “Essentially the Neon Rave would be a big dance party with glow sticks and glow powder.”
After arriving for the second of three shifts with a group of friends, there were eight stragglers left over in the tent from the first shift. The shift system had been put in place to stagger the number of guests, but after some time, the organizers abandoned the system. By allowing people to stay for the entire rave, the administrators were able to compound the number of attendees, which made new arrivals feel like there was at least some crowd worth staying for.
The quarter of the tent real estate that was not a part of the dance floor held some standing tables, glow sticks, and all of the prom-goers. The DJ sat in a corner with his setup, every so often looking at his phone. Two cops stood just outside the tent, although the security measures turned out to be nothing more than a formality.
Empty as the event may have been, people certainly had fun. The low turnout did not hinder students from eventually creeping onto the “dance floor” made of concrete, and while I counted at most 30 people, those were 30 people who were smiling and enjoying their time. I certainly had a good time. As the high school careers of the attendees dwindled away, the mood was very much alive.