By Daleen Cowgar
After nearly 28 years, Airband has become a steady tradition for the Malone community. The spring semester staple has a habit of bringing the entire university together to laugh, sing, and showcase their creativity. As one of the largest events on campus, it has historically drawn over 1,000 people in attendance and has been used as a fun, introductory event for accepted students.
Kristina Boyle, junior fine arts and crafts major, was able to see an in-person Airband show her freshman year at Malone. For her, it was an amazing way to experience campus as a new student.
“You don’t realize how many people are actually creative until like they’re in a show,” Boyle said.
Annaliese Raynak, a first-year organizational leadership graduate student, saw it the first time as a student accepted to an undergraduate program, and has attended every event since.
“It’s a lot of energy, a lot of excitement [and] very theatrical — it was a big production,” Annaliese Raynak said.
Furthermore, it became a tradition for Annaliese Raynak and her sister, Alissagrace Raynak. Alissagrace Raynak also attended Airband during her sister’s visit during Accepted Students Day and continues to visit every year for more of the fun.
“[After the first time,] I was like, ‘I need to come [back] and see it [again] because it’s so much fun,” Alissagrace Raynak said.
2020 was the first time Boyle and the Raynak sisters didn’t see Airband. In fact, no one saw Airband.
With COVID-19 sweeping the nation and sending states into lockdown last year, the in-person Airband was canceled. The call went out for video submissions from home, but there were only two entries.
Now that students are back on campus, Airband has the chance to revive the beloved tradition. Logan Hansen, resident director of DeVol Hall, has been hard at work to find a way that the Malone community can celebrate Airband safely.
“We still have a lot of restrictions of how [we can gather as a] large group, [so we] can’t really do that,” Hansen said. “So we thought … why don’t we try to make production-oriented videos? [That way] people on campus can get involved and can group up and practice as best as they can and come up with really fun acts, but then be able to record it … on [the stage].”
Airband is still going to have the same aspects that students know and love, just put into a different medium.
“[We decided to] try to have as many of the same facets [as in-person Airband],” Hansen said. “The acts [will,] as possible, still be able to have large groups and still be able to perform on stage, still have time to practice and use their music like they would [but] just having to get a little creative [with videos].”
“The essence of what Airband is will still be there,” Annaliese Raynak said.
Because there is going to be extra work for the tech team to take the recordings and put the video together, there isn’t a set date for the Airband video release yet. Hansen advised students to be looking for it in late March or April.
One of the groups planning to participate in Airband this year is the Malone Dance Life Group led by Bekah Stranger, junior integrated social studies major. The group is made up of a combination of students who have and have not experienced an in-person Airband.
While Stranger is excited about the chance to perform in Airband, it’s going to be just as different for the performers as it will be for the audience watching them over video.
“Obviously when you’re performing on a stage with a live audience, there’s some interaction with the audience,” Stranger said. “Without that live audience … it won’t really necessarily be the same.”
Alissagrace Raynak isn’t worried about that, however.
“You’re not going to have the energy from the audience coming back at you like in theater … but I think it’s still going to be fun, and you’re still going to view everybody else’s and see it instead of like last year [when] we just got canceled,” Alissagrace Raynak said.
“It’s still a community event,” Annaliese Raynak said. “So regardless of whether that community is spread out or virtual … we still have a team together doing it in person.”
Stranger wants the audience to stay true to the community-building nature of Airband as well.
“I hope maybe [dorm] suites will get together in a COVID-friendly way or [have] floor events to watch it, or things like that so that we keep the community aspect,” Stranger said. “I think if you take Airband out of community, then Airband isn’t fun anymore. The more that people can connect it into that community, something that they do with their friends, the more normal it will feel.”
While Airband 2021 is going to be different from previous years, there are already many good memories being formed. When the videos come out, it’ll be a great time to gather and create even more memories, laughing, voting and building Malone community.