Second annual Masquerave rocks Studio Theater

WCNU Radio and CNU musicians bring the Valentine’s Day vibes

On Valentine’s Day, love was in the air in the Ferguson Center’s Studio Theater. At first glance it was not the typical romantic evening that one might expect. 

Colorful cutouts of conversation hearts that read “BE MINE,” “I’M YOURS” and other lovey-dovey sayings were hung on strings lining the walls of the room. 

Gold-tinged masquerade masks were scattered among candy heart stickers and Valentine’s Day candy on the round tables around the room’s edges. 

The Studio Theater was transformed into an underground indie music venue that one might find downtown in any big city, but luckily for the Christopher Newport student body, this one was right here on campus.

The second annual Masquerave was hosted by WCNU Radio, who planned for weeks to create the perfect evening. The name of the event promised an evening in which students could wear provided masquerade masks as they danced and raved along to the music, and the attendees took advantage of the opportunity. 

Junior Mara Tharp, president of WCNU, was excited to utilize her leadership position to make this year’s Masquerave the best it could be. In 2019, the first annual event was organized by former WCNU president Tom Aberman, and Tharp said the music that year was “mainly dance music” with no live local bands. 

In 2020, Masquerave changed for the better, drawing in a crowd of CNU students excited to see what this year would bring. These changes included inviting local artists to play at the event, resulting in high-energy performances from both Native Love and Grain Death.

When asked about what her intentions were for Masquerave this year and how it would be different from last year’s inaugural event, Tharp responded, “It is insane how much talent is on this campus, and we want to create an environment where we can celebrate these achievements. WCNU strives to create a welcoming community of students with diverse interests and backgrounds. We want to welcome anyone and everyone to get involved or come to an event, which is why getting our name out there is so important.”

Despite the timing of the event, on an evening where many students are out on dates or doing other things with their Friday night, dozens of students were in attendance. 

“Having [Masquerave] on Valentine’s Day was a challenge,” Tharp said, “but with scheduling, it was really the only time this semester it would work. We did our best to incorporate the holiday into our theme. Our Events Director, junior Libby Keely, managed to mix Valentine’s Day, Masquerave and WCNU’s overall vibe into a great venue.”

The Studio Theater, a typically dark performance space with its floors and walls painted black, was transformed for the event. At the beginning of the evening, the room was  bathed in royal blue light as students arrived.

The night began with a performance by Native Love, a band comprised of CNU juniors Thomas Fosdick and Sean Luffy. They took the stage as students showed up in crowds to cheer, clap and sway to Native Love’s synthy set of their original indie pop songs. 

The band performed on vibrantly colored electric guitars and a burgundy drum set in front of a shimmery rose-gold tarp as their backdrop.

Following Native Love was a performance by Aberman, also known as Grain Death, who has become somewhat of a household name among the CNU community. 

During his unique dubstep stylings, he switched up the moody blue lighting into frantic flashes of red and white. He sampled several popular songs such as “Humble” by Kendrick Lamar in between his beats, each of which were different from the ones that came before.

Tharp said, “We also wanted to highlight CNU-based bands, and are looking to do events like this in the future.”

WCNU has seen massive growth throughout the past couple of years, and their continuing development is showing no signs of stopping anytime soon. 

Recently, its members have collectively overcome spending a few years off the air, conflicting schedules from e-board members and issues with the station’s air conditioning unit that made the station unbearably hot. Nevertheless, the dedicated members of WCNU have never let those issues take away from their dedication to their organization.

“Our organization is now on the path to growth,” Tharp said. “We definitely achieved our goal [for Masquerave] — even surpassed it. Personally, I was blown away by the turnout at the event, especially on Valentine’s Day.”

For anyone interested in potentially getting involved with WCNU, Tharp encourages participation. “WCNU strives to create a welcoming community of students with diverse interests and backgrounds. We want to welcome anyone and everyone to get involved or come to an event, which is why getting our name out there is so important.“

“For many people in WCNU, this has been a source of support and community that they had yet to find on campus. I hope that events like these will not only showcase talent but to bring people together over common interests in music and pop culture,” she added.

Masquerave 2020 marks a turning point for WCNU and their growth. As their organization surpasses past problems, they look hopefully into the future together towards more success. 

Whether those in attendance were lonely hearts looking for something to do on the evening of Valentine’s Day or they were couples out on a cute, artsy date, Masquerave provided good music and good vibes for all.

~Anna Dorl, Lifestyle Editor~



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