after dark

letter from the editor

I would classify my freshman year self as capital-L Lame. My answer to life-long academic anxiety has always been to lock myself indoors and bury myself in my work. This behavior can partially be attributed to my growing up in the suburban wasteland that is Cleveland, Ohio. A more likely analysis: Filling every ounce of my free time with work stopped me from having to think critically about the insurmountable pressure I felt as the oldest in an African immigrant household. Allow me to make an important distinction — I wasn’t some academics-obsessed zombie. But I am a mega-extrovert, a quality that isn’t really conducive to productivity. Naturally, I’ve always had to keep myself on a leash to reach the expectations I was held to and utter self-denial was the simplest way to do so. “Why party now? I can party after reaping the fruits of my labor,” I’d tell myself.

And then…wait for it…the coronavirus pandemic hit. Once again locked away in my Cleveland bedroom, this time not of my own volition, I really had to reassess my priorities. My favorite prisons are self-imposed. Once the ability to escape work vanished, my mind began to recall and resent all the times I chose to work on some now-forgotten research paper instead of accompanying the girls to an afterparty. My resentment for these moments was only amplified by the fact that I spent the majority of my free time indoors re-watching “Sex and the City.” Oh, how I longed for the return of my cosmopolitan life. When given the opportunity, I would never again forsake my social life, I told myself.

And I didn’t. Once a new normal emerged last fall, I began throwing parties at an off-campus house I shared with four others; I, very seriously, call these the best ragers USC’s campus has ever seen. The next semester, I studied abroad in Italy. My biggest takeaway: Berlin’s a close second to Rome for clubbing.

My newfound embrace of nightlife is accompanied by many sobering lessons. I can’t count how many times I was made to feel uncomfortable in a European club, and my partying itinerary never involves frat parties. After just two outings during the first semester of freshman year, my friend and I sat on her dorm room floor and mutually confessed that we hated how white and how stiff and how uncomfortable Greek life functions were. These freshman year concerns were affirmed last fall when I listened to numerous students bravely describe their experiences with sexual misconduct on the Row.

Whether on-campus or off, it’s become clear to me that too much of nightlife serves as a degenerate mating space at best, and an unsafe environment for women, LGBTQ+ people and people of color at worst. I love to party, but I also believe there’s a delicate balance that must be struck in order for the cathartic elements of nightlife to be enjoyed by everyone. This is so important to me that, yes, I do believe nightlife is worthy of being the subject of an entire newspaper supplement.

Any seasoned host can attest that all a successful party needs is a crowd of warm bodies and some luck (to ward off DPS of course). But while it’s so easy to stick to the bare minimum, I urge us as a community to think critically about how we can ensure all demographics on this campus can have a perfect night out (this is me subtly asking you to examine what people and organizations you’re investing your weekends in). And for the love of God, I know many of you don’t have rhythm, but please start dancing.

Amina Niasse

Features Editor, Fall 2022



AMINA NIASSE, Features Editor
VALERIE LUI, Online Projects Editor
LAUREN SCHATZMAN, Art & Design Director
VINCENT LEO, Digital Managing Editor