By Kaitlyn McCormick
Behind the rainbow-wrapped doors of the Cavalla Room in the Bart Luedeke Center, students danced, sang and enjoyed each other’s company during the SPECTRUM Soirée on March 31, a dance for LGBTQ students and their allies, hosted by Rider’s SPECTRUM Pride Alliance.
The invitation called for students to dress as casual or fancy as they liked, and attendees obliged, sporting a wide variety of outfits ranging from dresses and blazers to jeans and T-shirts.
Senior psychology major Metis Hamilton, SPECTRUM’s president, said that the idea to have a dance primarily for LGBTQ people was an idea that the club had been fostering since 2019, but the pandemic made it difficult to come to fruition.
“Proms in general are just very heteronormative institutions. Some schools have rules where you can’t show up with a queer partner,” Hamilton said, before also mentioning that the students at Rider, like many freshmen and sophomores across the country, did not get a typical prom if any. “I just wanted to give, particularly the freshmen and sophomores, because I knew that would be the bulk of who came … a break.”
Senior technical theater major Christy Akinsanmi, SPECTRUM’s vice president said, “On campus, we’ve never really had a queer prom of any sort, and I feel like especially considering the pandemic and how many people lost out on that experience. This is something that could really fill a need in our community.”
Around 40 students were in attendance throughout the night, finding community within the rainbow-decorated room. Attendees enjoyed hoagie trays and pizza from Lawrenceville’s own Varsity Pizza, as well as a plethora of desserts. Chris Brandt, a Rider alum who studied music theory and composition primarily on the Westminster campus, DJed the event along with his wife, keeping the crowd moving between queer hits, including girl in red’s “ i wanna be your girlfriend,” Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” and Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl,” and party favorites like DJ Casper’s “Cha Cha Slide” and V.I.C.’s “Wobble.”
The soirée was a success in the eyes of students as well. Junior public relations major Keyonna Murray lauded the event for giving LGBTQ students a space to connect.
“I just love any gathering with fellow LGBTQ people. I think it’s really difficult to find safe spaces out there, especially where people are connecting on the aspect of our identity,” Murray said. “Sometimes I just want to be able to connect with people on the basis of my sexuality, and so I think that having these types of events is really great because it gives you the chance to do that.”
The dance was also open to the greater Rider community and friends of SPECTRUM members. Senior psychology major Victoria Witerska said that her friends in SPECTRUM were excited about the event and encouraged her to join them.
“Honestly, it has been super, super amazing,” Witerska said of the soirée. “It has exceeded all of my expectations, and my expectations were already high. The food has been amazing, the music has been amazing, so I’m happy to be here.”
As the windows of the Cavalla Room darkened along with the sunset, the partygoers continued to laugh, sing and dance into the night, illuminated by flashing lights from the DJ booth and glow-in-the-dark balloons.
Tristan Leach is an editor for The Rider News and treasurer of SPECTRUM. Leach had no part in the writing or editing of this article.