By Megan Lupo
Students captivated the engaged crowd with their talent and diverse performances in Rider’s third annual Lip Sync Battle on Oct. 6.
Senior Student Entertainment Council (SEC) Vice President Handy De La Cruz expressed contentment with the pub reaching maximum capacity.
“It was actually a phenomenal turnout,” De La Cruz said. “We had to turn a couple of people away because we had so many people lined up to get in to support their friends and support the cause.”
Graduate student Ben Norkus and his group performed a compilation of songs that included “Partition” by Beyoncé, “Work Bitch” by Britney Spears, and “Bodak Yellow” by Cardi B, with interludes from the movie Mean Girls.
“Normally, through the Westminster Fall Opening Program, we complete the week with a lip sync, so my group was so excited about all of the work that we had put into the initial lip sync that we wanted to do it again,” Norkus said. “When the opportunity presented itself, we were like, ‘Oh, this is great. We’re just going to go for it.’”
Norkus enjoyed how his group thrived in its first month at Westminster and loved seeing his friends on stage again filled with “high energy.”
“I enjoyed that after a month of school and being away from my orientation group, I saw them grow and come back together for this performance. I liked how they all stuck together,” he said.
Students uniting and showcasing their passions in front of their peers has been the purpose of SEC, according to De La Cruz.
“I think the goal with any SEC event is just to have the people that attend the event have a great time and be able to feel like their Rider experience has been memorable because of the events they’ve gone to and the friends they’ve made,” she said.
The uniqueness of the venue allowed for a more personal setting for performers and the audience.
“I think it was a more intimate space, being in the pub, as opposed to being on stage at Westminster, so I think we had to almost interact with the audience more,” Norkus said. “And we were raising money so we kind of had to be in their faces.”
De La Cruz said, “We chose the pub because it has a great atmosphere and [had] untapped potential.”
It was not so much the competitive aspect that appealed to the performers as it was putting themselves out there and having fun. The essence of a lip sync show is students coming together to express themselves in front of others confidently and unapologetically, De La Cruz said.
Senior music major Emilio Chase savored performing in front of the large crowd.
“For my lip sync, I chose to do ‘Instruction’ by Jax Jones and Demi Lovato. I enjoy doing songs that are not super popular but are still a lot of fun to dance to, and people can get into easily,” he said.
To prepare for his performance, Chase watched some choreography videos for inspiration and incorporated his own moves.
The crowd responded enthusiastically to his act. He raised the most money for Rider’s Relay for Life and St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, thus declaring him the winner.
Although not all aspects of his performance ran smoothly, Chase did not let the misfortunes deter his satisfaction.
“I think it went well. I was a little shook in the beginning because they chose a different mix than the one I submitted, but everything went well,” he said. “I mean, the crowd liked it. I liked that I actually successfully did a split.”
Chase’s stunt seemed to be a highlight of the night.
De La Cruz said, “The most memorable part for me was definitely Emilio jumping into the air and landing in a split. I think that was really awesome, and it got the crowd pumped. It got them wanting to donate more, and is ultimately part of the reason why he won.”
However, the focus on the night was not on who won or lost, but to give to a good cause.
De La Cruz said the show raised $350 for cancer research and has already prompted talk of next year’s event.
Norkus said, “I have not performed in a lip sync battle, but we did do our lip syncs at Westminster, so I have had a little experience with [it], except that this venue is new and exciting. I would do it again.”
Chase had participated in Rider’s first competition when he was a sophomore and enjoys his experience each time.
“I had a lot of fun,” Chase said. “I enjoy performing and dancing for people, so I figured why not try it again? I hope the event continues to grow. It was a lot different from the first time I did it. It was double the acts, and the amount raised was more than double.”
De La Cruz shared that sentiment because of how much joy the show brings to people.
“I think lip sync lets people have the opportunity to express themselves without having to worry too much about things like how they sound or how they look,” she said. “It gives them the opportunity to be exactly who they want to be and showcase that to a greater population, and I think that the performances that we had [this year] really did that.”
Additional reporting by John Modica
Published in the 10/11/17 edition.