The doors to the Northridge Center were opened at 7 p.m. on Thursday. A crowd of students stood in line with their tickets for a night of entertainment and good laughs. The stage was cleared and four microphones stood at ground level directly in front of the stage, which was decorated with 93.5 KDAY banners.
On the right side of the stage, a DJ table was set up and speakers were placed on opposite sides of the stage. The seats were quickly filled with students, parents and spectators who came out to be entertained.
At 7:20 p.m., CSUN’s 3rd Annual Apollo Night was underway. The Goodfellas, Romeo and DJ from 93.5 KDAY were there to host the event. To get the audience energized, The Goodfellas and the KDAY street team distributed T-shirts, concert tickets and other prizes to select audience members. DUB magazine was also present distributing copies of the latest issue to people in the audience.
Twelve performers were scheduled to grace the stage for Apollo Night. There were two dance groups – LWA, also known as Ladies With Attitude, and Notorious. Two student rappers, GodSon and Young Rock, graced the stage.
A number of people showcased poetry and spoken word talents, including James the 4th, Sean Hill and Vince Williamson, a 22-year-old CSUN student.
There were also some students who displayed their vocal skills, such as Timique Carter, Minks, Danielle Williams, Dwayne Golstein and Mike Eddie.
Three featured acts also performed, including singing duo Bangloose, a four-male singing group called O.N.E., and a rapper by the name of KU.
A talent contest took place and a variety of artists from CSUN showcased their respective talents. Instead of a panel of judges determining the winner, it was the audience.
The audience determined the winner by expressing a collective chorale of boos or cheers during the performances. At the end a winner was selected, a long tradition which may seem harsh but tests the performers and their skills. Survival of the fittest is what Apollo Night has always been about.
When the audience’s boos overshadowed the performance and became loud, the DJ spun “Walk it Out” by DJ UNK, bluntly letting the performers know the audience had spoken, and it was not in their favor so they should now “walk it out” off the stage. Adding to the excitement was a guy who danced on stage with a bat. His presence replaced the giant hook usually present at Apollo Nights, used to shoo the performers who are not satisfying to the audience off the stage, a role once filled by the late, tap dancing Howard “Sandman” Sims.
That night, the audience seemed reluctant to throw the proverbial tomato. It does take courage to stand in front of an audience and showcase talent, but since it was Apollo Night, some performers did get booed off the stage.
“I thought the audience would be a lot more raw and critical,” said DJ from The Goodfellas, whose “Hate It or Love It” segment employs antics similar to those of Apollo Night. “It’s Apollo Night and you have to be ready to go. This is stardom, not start up. In this business, you have to always be ready to go.”
After the performances, Williamson was declared the winner. He gripped the audience with a politically charged poem called “War in These Streets” and took home $700 in scholarship money.
“I thought (…) Vince was well-deserving of the first prize awarded, and I really appreciated what he contributed, because the words in his poem were exactly what the NAACP likes to promote,” said Yemi S. Kuku, a 22-year-old Pan African studies and political science major.
“War in These Streets” embodied the manner and retrospect “sermon” delivered to a congregation. While performing, Williamson walked back and forth in front of the audience and held a commanding presence.
“We are going overseas to fight this war and sending billions of dollars but we won’t put any of that money in what we call Ghetto America,” Williamson said. “Our priorities are twisted.”
After Williamson delivered the poem, he walked off with cheers and a standing ovation, clearly symbolizing who the winner of Apollo Night was before the other performers graced the stage.
The second place prize, a scholarship check for $300, went to Minks, a group comprised of a rapper and three backup dancers dressed in red outfits.
In the end, it was another Apollo Night that went down in CSUN history. It was the third but definitely not the last to come to this campus.
“The family woke up,” Romeo from The Goodfellas said. “They started walking it out and it ended on a bang. Once again, we were honored and blessed to be here. Thanks to all the students for having us here.”
Students coordinated the 3rd Annual Apollo Night at CSUN. The CSUN chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, or NAACP, presented the event.
“I thought the event was a big success,” said Devon Angelica, a 21-year-old broadcast journalism major. “It’s nice to get involved in something like this. There were a lot of talented students that impressed me.”