Josiah Scott danced as students started gathering to watch at the 24k Magic Dance hosted by Happy Club. // Photo by Emily Porter
Combining his desires to spread happiness through music and to inspire others to follow their dreams, DJ Trillivm took the stage Saturday night at the “24K Magic Dance” hosted by Happy Club, blasting “Caroline” by Amine over the speakers.
William “Trillivm” Zayas, also a founding board member of the club, had a hard time staying at his station, frequently jumping off stage to join the dance floor and mingle with the guests.
Among those in attendance were second-year students Ellen Golden and Bethany Monsrud.
“We love dancing, so this is great!” Monsrud said when asked what she thought about the fundraising dance.
Guests were encouraged to dress up for the event, and were greeted at the doors by a red carpet leading to a balloon-archway entrance to the dance floor. The Multi-Activity Court Gym in the Wade King Student Recreation Center was adorned with black and gold party decorations, and the DJ stage was lit by pink, yellow and blue lights.
Along with being an opportunity to provide students with a fun night of dancing, the event was put together to be a fundraiser for a scholarship that Happy Club intends to give to incoming students. Their goal is to fund one scholarship per quarter to be given to a middle school or high school student who submits a video about recognizing and managing their own mental health, Walker said.
Happy Club founder Dimetrieze Walker said he hopes the scholarship can help generate a conversation among younger students as they consider going to college.
“How do we reach out to an incoming population and let them know that there is a place for them, and also how do we create a conversation amongst a number of people about mental health?” Walker said, explaining the club leader’s thought process behind starting the scholarship.
About one-third of the way through the dance, an electrical fuse blew, causing the music and most of the lights to shut off. The sudden lack of music didn’t stop people on the dance floor, many of whom began clapping and chanting “no music” while they continued to dance and toss around balloons. A technician was present and was able to get everything back up and running within 10 minutes.
Walker was inspired to create Happy Club after realizing how many of his fellow students were struggling to juggle all of the stressors that college can pose. He noticed how different the college experience seemed from the movies he had seen and the stories he had been told.
Walker said it’s like everyone is trying to stay afloat in different pools of water. Each person is separated by a fence, so while they can see each other struggling to swim, they can’t help each other because they are stuck in their section. Walker said he wanted to create a space where struggling students could hop over the fences, come together and be resources for one another.
The leaders of Happy Club do not claim to be mental health professionals of any kind, Walker said. Their goal is to help teach people how to be there for one another by providing information on available mental health resources and by creating a space for people to have open and honest conversations about the things they are struggling with.
While the club wishes to promote happiness, they recognize that it isn’t possible for anyone to be happy all of the time, Zayas said. The group welcomes and encourages the acknowledgement of all emotions.
“When people usually hear ‘Happy Club,’ they go, ‘Oh, you guys just have to be happy all the time.’ And it’s like, that is the name of the club, because that’s what we like to promote, but that is not realistic for anyone to be happy all the time,” Zayas said.
Zayas said that when he first started going to Happy Club, it was the first time he felt like a part of Western’s community. He described club meetings as a safe place to express traumatic experience.
Walker also emphasized the importance of creating a space for students to be vulnerable, but said he also wants the meetings to be a place where members can have fun. They like to alternate between having “hype” versus “emotional” meetings each week, he said.
At meetings, the officers devote a large amount of time to welcoming newcomers and hearing from everyone present about what is going on in their lives, Walker said. The club runs on a set of principles that they call “constitutions.” These include “speak your truth” and “respect your growth zone.”
“The growth zone is the space just outside of being comfortable, but right before you become unbearably uncomfortable,” Walker said.
The leaders of Happy Club hope to avoid defining the club too strictly, so that it can continue to grow and form with the needs and wants of future members even after the founders have moved on from Western, according to Walker.
Happy Club was started during Spring quarter of 2017. They plan to resume regular meetings next week.