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December 4, 2023

Hoptoberfest's Show Day is frightfully impressive

By TIMOTHY MCSHEA | October 18, 2023

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COURTESY OF TIMOTHY MCSHEA

The Octopodes' Noah Trudeau performs a passionate solo on Freshman Quad.

On the third day of the annual Hoptoberfest, “Show Day,” eleven student groups performed, including seven a capella groups. Hoptoberfest is run by the Hopkins Student Organization for Programming (HOP).

The show opened with a quick performance by the JHU Yong Han Lion Dance Troupe, complete with two lion costumes accompanied by the loud banging of a barrel drum. As the line for check-ins became longer, the colorful and graceful performance set a good opening tone.

As I went to go get some cider to warm me up, I heard numerous a capella singers sound check and scanned over the many groups waiting their turn on the brick path by AMR I. I got to take wild guesses at the performances that were still to come, based on their drastically different costumes, which reminded me of a Halloween parade. The cider was okay. I put butterscotch in it, which wasn’t one of my best ideas. I would not recommend it.

Hopkins’ premier Chinese-interest a capella group Music Dynasty was the first performance, and they absolutely killed it, performing “Valerie” by Amy Winehouse. Next came The Vocal Chords, in their characteristic cranberry red, singing “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor. The Octopodes chimed in with an original song, featuring a solo by senior Noah Trudeau, followed by The Notes of Ranvier singing “New Romantics” by Taylor Swift. 

This wasn’t an a capella show, but it was beginning to sound like one. A capella groups are the most common type of arts group at Hopkins, as is evident whenever Homewood hosts an a capella competition; if you’ve never attended, Hopkins almost always fills up the program list. The set list for this event was limited to one song per group, so they went by quickly, one after another, like a highlight reel of Hopkins a capella. 

The reign of a capella was capped off with performances from The Sirens, in cozy red and black plaid, performing “Love Song” by Selena Gomez, and Take Two belting out in the smoky autumn air. With the sun out of sight, and the lamps burning a subdued glow, it was time for dancing — or watching other people dance, at least.

Korean Pop Motion (KPM), Hopkins’ award-winning K-pop dance group, took center stage in furry boots and street-style fashion. According to their introduction, read by Traditions Events chair of HOP, Angela Rajasegaran, the group seeks to “spread awareness of K-pop to the student body.” 

Their performance, save for a few technical difficulties, was amazing. Each time the music paused by some unexplained error, which happened for other groups afterward as well, I put my head in my hands because you could tell just how much effort went into their two-part routine. I was thoroughly impressed and entertained, and I’m looking forward to what KPM has to offer for the rest of the school year.

The Temps d’Afrique African Dance Troupe (TDA) came out on the grass next, by far the biggest group so far. Dressed in white button-ups and tutus, with some in skirts, they spread out to fill the empty space and meet the crowd, sitting on the Freshman Quad grass. The performance had three parts; the first part was relatively “normal,” with standard synchronous moves across the whole field. When the music paused this time, spurned on by encouraging shouts from the crowd, the group continued dancing, at first seemingly improvised, but eventually synchronizing off of nothing but muscle memory and chemistry. 

The sound came back on, cueing the second part of TDA’s performance — the loud scratching alarm sounds sent performers crying out in fear offstage, with an indiscernible message being relayed by a soft feminine, robotic voice, which I assumed to be the well-known announcement from The Purge series: “This is not a test. This is your emergency broadcast system announcing the commencement of the Annual Purge sanctioned by the U.S. Government.”

Following the announcement, performers dashed back on, with their wardrobes tattered and scarred, and new dancers with “purge masks” lighting up in the night. The third part showed a smaller cast of dancers engaging in more skillful moves which showed off the full range of the group.

Hopkins’ co-ed Hindi a capella group Kranti gave a soothing interlude after TDA’s high-energy performance. Then, as the night fully set in, the Hopkins staple, Johns Hopkins Entertainment Club (JHEC), came in with fire in tow. People picked up their free ice cream only for it to melt under the allure of startling fire spinning, with performers dancing over seasonal songs such as Andrew Gold’s “Spooky Scary Skeletons” and Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” The night concluded with a screening of Hocus Pocus, while Hopkins students finished what was left of their ice cream, eating popcorn and other movie snacks.

I greatly enjoyed this four-hour extravaganza put on by HOP. Hoptoberfest in general is a true blessing — four days of constant entertainment should not be taken for granted. Despite a few technical difficulties here and there, Hopkins has seen some of its greatest performances during the spookiest month of the year.


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