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The December edition of First Thursdays brings light to student’s artistic talent

First Thursdays is pictured. The December edition of the monthly event featured a “Let There Be Light” theme. (Eva Danesh/Daily Bruin)

By Eva Danesh and Jonah Danesh

Dec. 11, 2023 5:15 p.m.

The December edition of First Thursdays took over Broxton Avenue on Thursday night, featuring a “Let There Be Light” theme.

The monthly First Thursdays event series began in March 2022 and has welcomed over 55,000 guests since then, said Eddie North-Hager, a UCLA spokesperson, adding that this month’s event aimed to highlight Bruins and their creativity – from a cappella performances to poets composing live pieces on type-writers.

“First Thursdays is meant for students – not just for them to enjoy, but for them to take part,” he said.

Bruin poets from the Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA’s Poetry Bureau used typewriters throughout the event to compose poetry. Attendees provided details on their lives, likes and desires that the poets then used to compose completely original, custom-made poems.

“It’s something that people really have to participate in, not just walk by or look at,” North-Hager said. “You’re giving something, and you’re getting back something very personal.”

Catherine Lange, a poet at the event and subcommittee chair of the Poetry Bureau, said she thinks the interactive aspect of the event was one of the best parts.

“There’s a beautiful human connection that happens,” she said.

(Eva Danesh/Daily Bruin)
A student on a typewriter is pictured. The theme was accompanied by poetry from UCLA’s Center for the Arts of Performance Poetry Bureau. (Eva Danesh/Daily Bruin)

Lange, a fourth-year biophysics student, added that while writing free verse poems over the course of the evening, she noticed themes beginning to emerge – from family and love to the holidays.

“It’s really sweet to be able to get this small piece of somebody else’s life and create something out of it,” Lange said. “It’s a typewriter, so you get it back to them, you don’t author it and you never see it again.”

Lange also said the event’s theme felt even more fitting as the night went on. She said with each poem she realized she had more in common with strangers than she had thought.

“When someone shares that little piece of their life, there’s this little spark,” Lange said. “This exchange, which I feel lights up the person who’s giving the prompts and sharing this piece of themselves, also lights up the people who really enjoy doing creative stuff.”

(Eva Danesh/Daily Bruin)
First Thursdays also featured student a capella performances from five different groups. (Eva Danesh/Daily Bruin)

Cadenza, a 19-member UCLA a cappella group, performed a three-song set at the event, featuring music from Alicia Keys, Radiohead and former UCLA student Conan Gray.

Co-music director Grace Mosier said the group was excited for the opportunity to play alongside fellow a cappella groups and be part of UCLA’s First Thursdays tradition.

Mosier, a fifth-year linguistics student, said many Cadenza members have attended First Thursdays events in the past, so being on the performers’ side was special. She added that the event served as an opportunity for their group to get more exposure to the wider UCLA community.

Performing alongside four other a cappella groups – Random Voice, Medleys, YOUTHphonics and Signature – Mosier said she found joy in watching and supporting fellow performers and feeling part of the close-knit a cappella community.

The theme of “Let There Be Light” represented the power of live music in creating warmth and a positive atmosphere, Mosier said.

“Music that is made right in front of you really creates light,” she added.

North-Hager said student performances and involvement are the anchor of the First Thursdays event series.

“The makeshift stage provided a beautiful background, but you were so personal, you’re right with them as they sang,” North-Hager said. “Students, of course, are why we’re creating these, but they’re also the inspiration.”

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