CultureSHOCK: Evolution

By Olivia Goldman
Once again, Columbia’s Asian American Alliance put together a successful night of performance, philanthropy, food, fashion, and free sponsor-provided goodies through a thorough exploration of what it means to be “Asian-American,” and also how far that term can be stretched and still be relevant.
The ladies, workin’ it.
Attendees of CultureSHOCK were showered with free things upon arrival (a nice gesture—except no one probably ever really wanted any of it in the first place). Freebies included a bag of pop-chips, a $25 gift certificate for accessories and jewelry at Folli Follie (where nothing is sold for below $70), and a $5 gift certificate to McDonalds.

The performances kicked off with Notes & Keys’ very own Melaku Assegued, who, with a top 40 club cover and an indistinguishable original song, jumped and fist-pumped around like the next saccharin-coated popstar. His enthusiasm and energy was a great opening act, however, and warmed up the crowd. Onyx, Columbia’s hip-hop dance group, followed with an eye-catching, hair-flipping, and technically impressive performance, which was complemented nicely by the K-pop inspired hip-hop dance group CU Generation.

While inspiration for CultureSHOCK, according to director Susan Li, is that “there is no single narrative of what it means to be Asian-American,” a common theme through the performances actually pulled from a particular mix of African- and Asian-American cultures. The Asian-American fraternity Lamda Phi Epsilon’s Step Team and Deja Lu’s (Director Kristen Lu) closing speech continued in the same vein. Rapper duo J-Tang & W.I.L.F. (Justin Yang and Wilfred Chan) successfully encapsulated the evening by rapping over a sample of “Black & Yellow”.

So much swag.

Out of place, although certainly memorable, was a performance by Fillipino-American YouTube star Ryan Bandong’s new band Mitchell Grey. Although the origin of the band’s name and a good deal of their publicity comes from Bandong (Mitchell Grey is Bandong’s middle name), as lead-singer he did not eclipse his bandmates as much as would be expected. Guitarist Joseph Diaz, bassist Napon Pintong, and drummer Matt Pana also demonstrated their own talent through solos and strong individual contributions to the band’s unified sound.

Other notable speakers included the hilarious Hari Kondabolu (brother of Das Rascist hype man, Ashok Kondabolu) and the insightful Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai (a “5 foot 2, tattooed, Asian female”). The fashion show at the end of the performance also featured beautiful models and clothing, as well as a slew of unforgettably amusing poses.

While the sociological phenomena may seem a little mysterious, overall the night was entertaining and light-hearted.

Olivia Goldman is a sophomore at Barnard College and Senior Editor for The Nine Ways of Knowing.

Images courtesy of Sarah Schultz, BC ’15.

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