By Nicholas Zuniga
Thursday evening was no normal night at California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB). A side door of the Otter Student Union (OSU) was illuminated with a red light which called students into the ballroom, but only if they knew the secret password. Once granted entry, students were engulfed in blue lighting and live jazz music. This was Monte’s Speakeasy.
Many students attended wearing their jazziest of outfits, all lining up for mocktails. “They’re delicious, it’s a very cute idea,” said Megan Matthews, a fifth-year student who attended the event with their fellow Otter Skye Cardoza. “I got the berry and the lemonade [mixers], it’s cool that you can experiment with them,” said Cardoza, a third-year student.
“I am honestly having a fantastic time. I mean it is very blue but other than that I am having so much fun just seeing that everybody is just out here talking. You hear the hub-hub and the murmur of voices and chit-chat and jazz rockin’ in the background, it is a right speakeasy feeling. I’m just genuinely loving it,” said Caleb Robbins, a fourth-year student. “It definitely would be pretty fun to see this happen again”
The Nick Williams’ Band – which included clarinet, keyboard, jazz guitar and drums – supplied the live music. The band even welcomed song requests, one student requesting a song by Billie Holiday. “I started [playing drums] when I was 5 years old, and I’m 53 now,” said drummer Shawn Medeiros; “I work with [Nick] fairly consistently, he called me and said, ‘Hey I got a gig,’ so here I am, happy to be here.”
Both jazz-enjoyers and those indifferent to jazz had a seat at this event. One fourth-year student and regular listener of jazz, Sam Ulloa, said “I feel like jazz is the next big thing … I really like soul … I like swing too … some of my favorites are probably Benny Goodman, I like Chet Baker, Billie Holiday’s one of my favorites… I have playlists dedicated to them.”
The students all seemed to be having a good time, dancing the night away and joining together at tables. “I think the event’s going great, having this [be a] student-organized [event] and seeing the result of it is pretty dope. I wish more student organizations utilized the spaces in this unique way,” said Robin Fishman, a student organizer from Associated Students (AS).
When asked about future events, Fishman mentioned that “the semester is gonna be student club run, there’s gonna be stuff from AS and Otter Media going on, just not as jam-packed as everything going on in [welcome back week].”
Events like these require lots of coordination and thought. The Men of Color Alliance put in the effort to provide this event for the students of CSUMB.
“I used to be the coordinator for the Men of Color Alliance, or one of them actually, and my role was helping secure the jazz musicians but also helping do a little of the back-end work. It couldn’t have been done without the Men of Color Alliance,” said Nevan Bell, a recent CSUMB graduate and organizer of this event.
“We have an effort on campus to try to make more traditions … before I left, I wanted to put together something that students can remember. I wanna have students come in and enjoy something, and it is the 20s, you feel me? So a speakeasy is definitely needed.”
The speakeasy was definitely a success, and was welcomed by dozens of students who were able to enjoy a night of roaring fun.