Ohio State alumni want to keep the fire of activism from burning out.
“Over the past few months, I have felt the need to get more involved in my community at large, because of the election, so I found myself doing a lot of activist work,” said Lisa Steward, a 2008 alumna in art.
Steward said she hopes to fight this feeling of exhaustion from activism through Recharge Dance Party on Thursday at Ace of Cups in Clintonville.
Steward said she hit a breaking point a few weeks after the inauguration, opting to skip the Downtown Columbus march in which protesters were pepper sprayed.
“I didn’t go to that march, because earlier that day I was kind of at my lowest point,” she said. “I was driving home listening to the latest news coverage and I had to pull over and cry it out, I hadn’t cried until that point. I was kind of exhausted. I was burnt out.”
On Jan. 31, Steward posted on Facebook the need for a dance party amid the protesting. Less than two minutes later Steward said Philip Kim, who is involved in the Columbus music industry and fellow Buckeye who graduated in 2007 with degrees in comparative studies and English, answered with a date and venue.
The event is for those age 18 and older with donations at the door starting at $5. All proceeds will be split evenly between the legal defense fund for Standing Rock and the Columbus chapter of the Council of American Islamic Relations (CAIR).
“I think it’s timely, it’s only February, and we have four years supposedly of Trump’s presidency, and even in the last month there’s already been a lot of action and a lot of conversation,” Kim said. “With the whole immigration ban, the executive order for immigration, we thought that CAIR would be a good place to donate … (and) we have a friend who was very involved with Standing Rock.”
CAIR will set up an information table inside the bar alongside local organizations, including the International Socialist Organization and Yes We Can Columbus to further educate those in attendance about how to get involved.
Yes We Can is an organization that supports progressive candidates for School Board and City Council.
Yes We Can member Will Petrik said his four years of experience as an advocate for social issues at the state level showed him how broken democracy was at the state level, with most important decisions falling in the hands of corporate elites. He said the Trump administration might only make matters worse.
“We’re at a pivotal point in history, where the whole country just went in a really scary direction and I think for most of the people (at the dance party) it is not reflective of our values,” Petrik said. “We really need to think about our mental and physical health and our own happiness. If people get burnt out … that’s just not helpful.”
To ensure burnout does not happen, Kim hired local DJs who have also been marching and protesting, including Topher Guenther and Dorian Ham. Ham graduated OSU in 2000 with a degree in journalism and has been friends with Kim for a long time, advocating for race-related issues.
Ham said an event like the dance party brings like-minded people closer together by eliminating the need for talk of burnout.
“It can sort of like go unspoken,” Ham said. “We don’t need to necessarily say that ‘Hey, me too,’ it’s more like you’re here, I’m here, alright we get it. We’re trying to pick people up, dust them off a little bit, say it’s alright and, by the way, here’s a Missy Elliot song.”
Ham said the DJs plan to play a diverse mix of songs. This fits the inclusive theme of the event Steward said she hopes to see.
“Building a stronger community together regardless of our backgrounds or even political opinion is really important right now,” Steward said. “We can check-in with each other so we can continue fighting.”
Steward said she does not plan for this to be the only dance party, hoping to extend the event to other venues around Ohio — with mentions of having a dance party at OSU — and inspire other states to do the same.
“This is a long fight, we’re going to need more dance parties,” Steward said.
The dance party runs 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. at Ace of Cups, located on 2619 N. High St. Attendees need a valid ID and a minimum of $5 to get in.
Correction Feb. 22: An earlier version of this article said the event was 21 and up when it is in fact 18 and up.