Neon Nights Announced as Spring/Fall Theme

Renn Fayre czar shares a sneak peek at what to expect at the end-of-semester celebration

With December rearing close comes Reed’s annual end of the semester celebration, Spring/Fall: a night filled with unabashed entertainment, feasting, and fun! So grab your metallic boots and technicolor makeup in preparation for this year’s theme, Neon Nights, which was inspired by aesthetics stemming from science fiction cult classics, cyberpunk comics, and techno-noir film.

Spring/Fall is an end-of-semester event to celebrate and honor seniors that are turning in their theses in the fall. Speaking with one of this year’s Spring/Fall czars, Sebastian Bishop, I asked about the origins of this festival, to which he replied that “Spring/Fall is essentially a smaller version of Renn Fayre, which was started in 1968 by alumna Linda Howard. It originally started as a renaissance fair but evolved into the festival it is today.” Far from its original intentions of enacting the renaissance period explicitly, today both Renn Fayre and Spring/Fall festivities put a greater emphasis on the revelry of it all. Despite the festival’s physical evolution, it still aims to embody the same renaissance values and ideals including the celebration of knowledge and curious inquiry as well as creative expression — all guided by a new theme each year. 

The tradition begins with a parade of thesising seniors tramping towards the library to burn their thesis drafts in a bonfire, signifying the completion and culmination of their time at Reed. Other activities will include concerts hosted in Winch and the Student Union, a fashion show in the GCC, art installations scattered all around campus, and lots of food! 

When asked about the significance of Spring/Fall, Bishop stated that “the primary purpose of this event is for everyone to celebrate the end of the semester, especially the seniors who finished their thesis this semester.” He further emphasized that they essentially just want everyone to have a fun time, which can come from a range of things — like dressing up or getting creative and installing an original brightly adorned science fiction art piece. The purpose is to indulge in a much deserved break from academic pressures as well as celebrating the culmination of work from this semester’s thesising seniors. 

From the eager haze-like state induced by waiting in the crowded SU during Daft Ball, the theme “Neon Nights” didn’t really evoke any intense feelings. Immediately, a picture of glow sticks and bright lights appeared in mind but it seemed altogether less alluring than themes from previous years like “Lucid Dream,” which is intriguing on multiple levels and which Bishop states “was a really memorable theme for [him] because of the variety of projects people made for it. The theme was open ended enough for people to go all out with creative projects but I also liked how literal some projects got, such as the random places people made to sleep.” 

After talking with Bishop about the motivations and inspiration behind choosing this theme, I began to develop a greater appreciation and anticipation for this years festivities. Bishop stated that “Neon Nights is inspired mainly by science fiction works such as Cyberpunk 2077, Ruiner, and Blade Runner. The aesthetic is mainly darks against neon colors and metallic patterns. The theme is really a description of a style and genre of fiction that has dystopian and technological elements to it.” This explanation provided multiple layers behind the theme that weren’t explicitly emphasized on the surface and opened it up to deeper interpretation. It’s now easy to envision a technicolor dreamland of New Wave science fiction and cyberpunk fashion. Although the theme is open ended and allows for various modes of expression, be it through an interpretive route or a literal translation, Bishop shared that the czars “were thinking people can dress up in a futuristic outfit or just get really literal with the color palette.” 

I asked Bishop what improvements we could expect to see this year, and he replied “one thing we want to focus on for Spring/Fall, as well as Renn Fayre next year, is making these end of semester celebrations accessible to everyone. We want there to be a variety of things people can enjoy. This year’s Spring/Fall will also have a lot of student acts playing in Winch, which is great because we want to make this an opportunity for students to show off their talents. We also had a lot of fun booking this year’s headlining acts because we want to expose Reedies to some really cool Portland acts that they don’t often get a chance to go off campus and see. It’s also a good way to showcase the full capabilities of Sound Kollectiv’s new equipment. In general, we’re really open to continuing the great things Reedies have done in the past for these events, but we’re also not afraid to break tradition if there’s something a lot of Reedies would be interested in.”

So, if you’re looking forward to roistered indulgence and want to celebrate your fellow thesising seniors, or if you’re just looking for an excuse to adorn yourself in metallic fabrics, fluorescent lights, and bright colors, be sure to join in the festivities December 6 starting at 3 p.m. with the thesis parade. And don’t forget the glow sticks!

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