West Fest Inspires Community Outreach to McMaster
September 5th marked one of McMaster’s longest standing traditions – Welcome Week’s Pajama Parade, or otherwise reminisced as the legendary kissing parade! As a third year Mac student, and a Welcome Week student leader dancing around in a big painted maroon jumpsuit, this is one of my favourite times of the year.
This year called for something new that Mac Welcome Week 2015 would take on. We would combine campus’s annual parade with power duo Young Lions Music Club and Westdale Village for their very own music and community arts festival: West Fest. For the first time in the new school year, students and community members alike merge together in the name of pajamas, red lipstick, and good tunes. It was a street party like no other.
The streets of Sterling and King Street West lined with a rainbow of rep suits from the various faculties around campus, spanning from Commerce students rocking green suits and handing out lemonade to wide-eyed first years, to engineers being rowdy as ever in striking red. Adding an even larger variety to the shades of colour flooding the street, each residence filed in to march through Westdale with pride, and off campus society spirit under the name SOCS.
Families, children, and senior citizens alike all came out of their homes to wave and greet the new family of first year students, for many being their first time in Hamilton. It was one of those moments where you find yourself watching from the outside and smiling to yourself for how proud you are to live in a place where we can welcome new and old generations of Hamiltonians in a celebration of art, culture, and everything the growing city has to bring at a micro level.
Once the parade hit King Street and the students’ cheeks had been covered with consensual red lipstick kisses, we were greeted by over 30 local vendors, inflatable games, and the smell of delicious local Westdale restaurants with their doors wide open. Representation from the Ticats, local artists, and open patios brought a mini-Art Crawl feel to the little village many McMaster students and community members reside. With the discovery of off-campus restaurants accepting McMaster meal plans, and an intimate crowd of neighbours, making new friends and learning new faces was as easy as ever. It was most definitely good vibes all around.
First to hit the stage was Mike Mandel – a hypnotist with big plans to turn a select group of students into some pretty goofy entertainment. Putting students to sleep in a zombie state, he had them do anything from painting mountains with their hands, experiencing the feeling of ants crawling all over their body, and controlling the temperature of the weather in the victims’ minds. As someone who has previously been hypnotized in a McMaster setting, I had no worry or doubt in my mind that this could be real, and that the lucid state these students were in was bound to create some funny Snapchats for their friends. Taking them on an emotional roller-coaster, tears, laughs, and fear were all struck as the crowd watched in awe as the show played out.
Following this, Brave Shores, one of the most anticipated bands of the night, hit the stage echoing indie rock synths from the bay of Westdale Village. To the beat of “Never Come Down,” families and students were jamming out on one of the last hot, sticky nights of summer, meeting their neighbours along to the tune of local music. Familiar faces reconnected with friends, for some being the first time since April, and having the nostalgia factor for upper year students who can experience West Fest from scratch with a beginner’s mind and an even bigger turn out.
Next on this 5-star bill was Young Rival, who kept the crowd dancing and even got the crowd to break out in McMaster’s all-encompassing happy dance. If you’ve found yourself on campus during the first week of move in, you’ll know the dance I’m talking about. The band entertained us with brand new songs off their upcoming album Interior Light.
Last for the night, but definitely not least, crowd-favourite cover band Dwayne Gretzky brought the party to a lit-up Westdale nightlife. I had the chance to chat briefly with the one of Dwayne Gretzky’s members, Tyler Kyte, who was found mingling with the crowd and taking in the energy. He spoke about how cool it is to see Young Lions Music Club teaming up with Hamilton, and McMaster bringing all aspects of the community together to enjoy something as universal as music. He just moved to Hamilton, himself, and is living in the east end. As a fresh face to Westdale, he noted how lovely it was to visit, and how proud he was of McMaster as a continually fantastic university.
“I love the fact that we can play a rad show, right here at home.” – Tyler Kyte
Tyler in particular was excited to jam out with a cover of the track “Africa” by Toto, and they slayed the stage as they always do. With a set list including “Dancing in the Dark,” “Benny and the Jets,” “Under Pressure,” and many more classic hits, they ended off the night with a bang.
Also throughout the day, local vendors brought their work, forming a runway of shops to explore. This was the perfect Hamilton welcome to incoming students, and a great celebration for the community. Starting the school year off on a good foot, I have faith that students will be left wanting more from the Hamilton music scene.