Concerts From The Couch

5.20.2015

By Hannah Pierangelo

Abandon Kansas concerts from the couch

“It’s magical out here.”

Jeremy Spring speaks in passing, but he’s right. There’s something special in the air tonight. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s decently warm for the first weekend in April. Maybe it’s the fairy lights setting the mood. Maybe it’s the lawn chairs casually arranged in the backyard of a home in west Wichita. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m attending an intimate living room concert and it’s not actually in a living room.

Spring, vocalist and guitarist for Abandon Kansas, who played the 14th show on their national living room tour in the band’s hometown, Wichita, laughs off the comment. But there is a little magic out tonight.

Abandon Kansas embarked on their tour in the middle of March. They wrapped up a total of 46 shows in the cozy homes of their fans last weekend, playing almost every single day for the majority of the spring. It’s the band’s sixth living room tour and clearly a hit with their fans.

Playing music in living rooms is not a new concept by any means, but it is flourishing again. Google “house concert” and tons of entries show up. Most stories on the subject describe a growing trend of artists playing in homes, though none can cite any data to support the claim. However, with so many people taking note, it’s clear that house shows might be everything but trending.

Live performance in private space may be a tale as old as time, but this type of intimate event was most popular in 1920s New York. With the modern communication available in social media and event planning apps, it’s easier now more than ever to host concerts in unique spaces like homes and backyards.

Tonight the band plays in a backyard instead of a living room, which Spring says is unusual. But the house is familiar—Spring recalls helping friend and previous Abandon Kansas drummer Brian Scheideman renovate and flip the house. Scheidman still owns the house, and the hosts for the evening have rented the space from him for the last five years.

The band take their makeshift stage, a grassy place beneath a swing-less swing set adorned with fairy lights, just after 9 p.m. The sun now fully set and a crackling bonfire lit to keep the guests toasty on the still chilly spring night, Abandon Kansas croon out their new songs, carving their electric indie-rock in the dark.

“There are a lot more loose moments, a lot more mistakes,” Spring says. “We don’t play to metronome like we do onstage. There’s not a ton of lights and all this jazz. It’s just right there, raw. It’s very exposed. People are sitting on the floor right next to us. It’s the real deal.”

If you’re a concert fanatic like I am, then a private show limited to 40 people, including the band members, is a dream come true. I’d expect this level of up-close-and-personal time from a VIP all-access pass, complete with bodyguards and maybe even red velvet rope. It’d probably cost a fortune.

For this exclusive evening with the band and the first play of their brand new record Alligator, I paid $10. That’s a Chipotle burrito if you add tax and guacamole. That’s the cost of the Moleskine notebook I used to take notes at the show.

“House shows have always been around,” Spring says. He thinks they’ll always be there, too. “They just kinda come and go. But to do a full tour of house shows, I think that’s kind of unique. I haven’t seen a ton of bands doing that.”

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Abandon Kansas
Website: abandonkansaslovesyou.com
Twitter: @AbandonKansas
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Soundcloud: /abandonkansas

The Golden Age of the House Concert

The living room concert dates back to the Harlem Renaissance, which spanned from the early 1920s to mid 1930s in New York and cultivated African-American art, literature and culture. Residents of Harlem experienced both rent and wage discrimination and faced exorbitant costs of living during the time. The 50-block district emerged as a slum by definition of its living conditions. During the early part of the decade, it’s estimated that nearly 200,000 blacks migrated to the neighborhood, with up to 7,000 people inhabiting a single block. The residents began to host Saturday night parties in their small apartments, enlivened with good music and “refreshments,” as alcohol was prohibited at the time, and invited friends to pay at the door for a good time. Friends were happy to oblige, well aware of the living conditions they shared, and the cost of the rent party typically amounted to less than entry to Harlem’s popular clubs.

Langston Hughes writes in his autobiography The Big Sea: “The Saturday night rent parties that I attended were often more amusing than any night club, in small apartments where God knows who lives . . . but where the piano would often be augmented by a guitar, or an odd cornet, or somebody with a pair of drums walking in off the street. And where awful bootleg whiskey and good fried fish or steaming chitterling were sold at very low prices. And the dancing and singing and impromptu entertaining went on until dawn came in at the windows.”

Professor Jacob Dorman of the History and American Studies departments at KU says that soul food and music were a large part of rent parties. Upright pianos were prominent fixtures in the small living spaces and players innovated the “Harlem stride piano” method of playing, which allowed the player to create a bigger sound and cut through the noise of the party.

“One reason why rent parties are so important is that they illustrate that the way most people lived in Harlem was not the way white visitors experienced Harlem,” Dorman says. Popular Harlem venues like The Cotton Club were white owned and only admitted white guests. Other clubs allowed blacks if they passed a paper bag test, meaning that their skin had to be lighter than the color of a brown paper bag.

“What this meant was that ordinary working class people had to find their own entertainment and make their own fun, and they did so in small cabarets and bars and in these occasional rent parties that might start late and go all night,” Dorman says. “So rent parties, with their music, soul food, and opportunity for sociability among black working class people, illustrate one powerful way that people were able to put their cultures and their bodies to work for their own pleasure, even if they worked low paying jobs or were not allowed into Harlem’s more famous commercialized leisure spaces.”

Though the repeal of Prohibition and The Great Depression effectively ended the rent party in the early 1930s, the Facebook invitation for the Abandon Kansas show tonight boasts a cheap ticket and a BYOB attitude, ringing in the house concert once again. The living room show isn’t a formal event—it’s just an opportunity for a good time and good music, same as in Roaring 20s Harlem.

“Most people aren’t brave enough to go out to a house show so it’s like, just the hardcore fans come out and the people that really want to know what’s going on,” Spring says. “That gives us a chance to get some real hang time with the people who really know who Abandon Kansas is ‘cause [these shows are] not highly publicized.”

The band promoted this tour the way they promote all of their tours—through social media. But for first time, Abandon Kansas tried organizing the national tour by offering the option to host as a perk for donating to their crowdfunding campaign last year.

Spring says it’s been hard to put out a new record. It’s been four years since their last full-length, Ad Astra Per Aspera. The title comes from the Kansas state motto “To the stars through difficulty.” Spring says there was plenty of difficulty to get the new music released. The band left their record deal at Gotee Records and instead opted for an independent approach. Teaming up with post-hardcore band Emery and their new label Bad Christian, Abandon Kansas were able to set up an IndieGoGo and raise $15,000 to fund their third full length, Alligator.

A Siren Song of Social Media

Abandon Kansas concerts from the couch

Social media and online event planners have been crucial to the renaissance of the living room show. The concert-tracking smartphone app Bandsintown, used by 250,000 artists and more than 16 million concert goers, just announced a new analytics feature in February that allows artists to view their best markets at a glance.

“We are living in an age where data is becoming increasingly accessible and in music, analytics are critical to decision making,” says Leah Taylor, the director of communications at Bandsintown.

“Bandsintown Analytics shows where the highest concentrations of concert-goers are worldwide,” Taylor says. “The purpose of the tool is to help artists understand where it would be wise to book shows—from a house party to a stadium.”

Crowdfunding is another method, and one of the newer ways for musicians to raise money and connect with fans. Backers donate money to the cause, usually a new record or tour, and gain rewards in return. Abandon Kansas, like many artists of late, endeavored to crowdfund for a new album and a living room tour to get back to playing for their fans. Spring emphasizes that it’s not charity, but more like paying in advance. Backers got a copy of the album, tickets to the living room tour, and for $300 upfront, the option to host the band in home.

Tonight’s hosts, Allison and Molly, have hosted a house show before with a handful of local Wichita acts at their last home, a duplex shared with their best friends on the other side of the dividing wall. They pitched the few hundred bucks to have Abandon Kansas play in their new place in west Wichita.

“We like doing it,” host Allison McElroy says. “We both love music and I’ve listened to Abandon Kansas since high school.

Once the band met their crowdfunding goal and the living room tour became a reality, the band and the hosts began promoting primarily through social media.

Spring finds that Facebook is the most successful for the band, though they also try to post frequently on Twitter and Instagram, and keep up with podcasts. He says the word of mouth is still the best way to get people interested in the show.

KU grad Ryan McGee recalls hosting a living room concert here in Lawrence in 1995, pre-dating the ease of instant online communication.

McGee hosted the small folk act Catfish Keith in his house on Mississippi Street, which has since been torn down for the parking garage. He remembers putting posters around campus and trying to entice as many friends as possible with the promise of a keg. Without even e-mail, McGee says he called the phone number on the back of the band’s CD to figure out how to book him.

“At the time, that’s all you could do—hang up posters and talk to people,” McGee says. “I would have had a much bigger reach on Facebook, or even gone beyond my social circle with something like Twitter.”

McGee remembers the living room packed with people of all social circles—friends, strangers, even a few professors.

Though it’s been 20 years, McGee has thought about hosting another living room show.

“It lives on in memory the way a traditional concert might not,” McGee says. “The best part is the feeling of being responsible for the event around you, bringing all the people to enjoy music.”

David Bazan, solo artist and the man behind indie-rock band Pedro the Lion, is another musician finding success in living room tours. He began touring in homes in 2009 before the official release of his debut full-length solo record, Curse Your Branches.

In an interview with Consequence of Sound, Bazan explained his start by asking himself, “What do I need to do to play songs and have people pay me money?”

“That’s what it comes down to,” Bazan says. “I genuinely love playing my music. I’m going to do it for the rest of my life. How can I do it to make the money to provide for my family and have it make sense? I said: house shows. If I can’t play anywhere else, I’ll play living room shows. That’s really how it all started.”

Bazan says he couldn’t do his living room tours without social media. Initially, the tour was just an email list of potential hosts that eventually grew to be his successful national tours today.

In the beginning, Bazan says he got “a lot of whisperings about making a bad career move.” Most musicians follows a traditional tour and release cycle that expects new material release about every two years, filled with touring in between.

“The thing is, though, people undersell how these shows connect with the fans,” Bazan says. “There’s no hype, no promotion, no gimmick. If I wanted to tour 100 to 150 days a year and put out a record every two years, I could do that.”

Beyond the cycle, Bazan says he loves to play house shows and get the chance to connect with his fans. “These 50-person living shows feel way more meaningful, even more meaningful than 300-person club shows,” he says.

Cash for Chorus

Just as Harlem rent parties emerged to cover the rising cost of living in New York, Spring says he began doing living room tours out of necessity.

“The touring scene is tough,” Spring says. “It got to the point where we’d play a bar and you know maybe a couple hundred people come out, but then we’d leave with a few hundred bucks either way.”

Spring breaks it down for me. In traditional touring, there are a lot of middle men. Typically bands give up around a third of the ticket price to the booking agent, manager and venue. With the living room tour, fans get a cheaper ticket at only $10, and the band gets the whole pie.

“Really, we’re not like buying new cars,” Spring says. “We’re just putting gas in the tank and making sure everybody gets fed and ordering more CDs and just keeping the business going.”

Another perk with playing in the living rooms of dedicated fans—the band gets a free meal and a place to spend the night. Spring says the living room tours are definitely the most financially successful tours for Abandon Kansas. Though he prefers to plug in and play loud, Spring likes to take on the living room tour once a year.

Spring sums up the living room tour best: “I think it just became survival. The music business changed. The way we download music’s changed. So the way we tour has to change.”

 

Alligator is available now on iTunes. Stream it here.

Photos courtesy of Abandon Kansas. 

Heard on the Hill

5.04.2015

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The SOTH spies are at it again and have continued listening to professors, students and campus randos for the funniest, weirdest and most out of context quotes. Each week we’ll be posting a compilation of the best ones. If you’d like to contribute to Heard on the Hill, email your overheard quips to styleonthehill@gmail.com.

  • Student: “So the guy is standing butt ass naked in the street, his pecker in one hand and nothing but air and opportunity between him and this cop.”

  • Guy: *sits in the Gynecology waiting room at Watkins and looks around* “I think I might be in the wrong place.”

  • Girl 1: “No one deserves the death penalty.”
    Girl 2: “Yea, except Theon Greyjoy.”

  • Girls standing in line to get into bar: “I mean we all have boyfriends, so why are we even here?”

  • Guy: “So much stuff gets caught in my mustache.”
    Girl: “Flavor savers.”

  • Student: “I’m holding off on drinking water so I don’t dilute my alcohol content.”

Vaping: Healthy or Habit-forming?

4.30.2015

By Ashleigh Lee

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I am at the Granada and I can barely see anything through the foggy air. A few lights at the bar illuminate the smoke clouds that begin to rise. A group of under-aged kids stand next to me, the “X’s” drawn deeply on the back of their hands with a black marker. Another cloud of smoke surrounds us but it’s not smoke; it’s vapor from an e-cigarette.

My introduction to the vaping community comes from my brother. He won’t tell me if he smokes cigarettes, but he openly vapes around our family and me. He will do it in the car or while walking on the street. I began to wonder if he did it to quit smoking or if he wanted to do it because it was the popular thing to do. This sparked my curiosity about the culture that surrounds vaping and e-cigarette culture. Last summer I took a research assistant position with Dr. Yvonnes Chen of the journalism school monitoring the tobacco marketing on American Indian Reservations. As our research continued we decided to branch out and study e-cigarette use.

According to the Center for Disease Control, an estimated 42.1 million adults are smoking cigarettes in the United States. That’s nearly 19 of 100 adults 18-24 year olds. But since the FDA does not regulate e-cigarettes, there is little information about who is using them, why they are using them and their long-term health effects.

States have been taking a stance on regulations such as what age you have to be to buy e-cigs and where they can be used. For example, Kansas only allows adults 18 and older to purchase the device and there is no statewide ban; but restaurants, bars and gambling facilities are exempted from any regulation.

An e-cigarette is a battery-powered device that heats up coils, then the liquid “juice” and is converted into a vapor form. They are relatively cheap; starter kits can range anywhere from $20 to $50, and liquid “juice” runs anywhere from $1 to $10 depending where you buy from. E-cig liquid is the most appealing part of the experience. There are flavors ranging from mint to give the illusion that you are smoking a menthol cigarette, to fruity flavors like strawberry and grape, to regular tobacco flavors and there are even flavors to taste like your favorite beverage like a piña colada or coffee. But the flavors and cheap prices are also appealing to the younger demographics.

Dr. Chen outlines three concerns that public health officials are facing with youth and e-cigs. “Adolescences’ brains are very sensitive to nicotine and since there are hundreds of flavors available that could easily make youth addicted to them.”

Chen also said the second concern comes from a recent study in Wales, children 10-11 years old who had used e-cigs expressed that they would want to try traditional cigarettes. The last concern is that once they try cigarettes, they will become addicted to them.

“In terms of research we know very little about e-cigs,” Chen says. “But we don’t know how children and adolescence are perceiving cigarettes. We know adults’ perceptions, but not youths yet.”

A literature review published in 2013 about electronic cigarettes and college students says that it might be because of the novelty of the product. “Sensation seeking is a personality trait resulting in the need for simulation, novel experiences and risk taking,” it says. Many times e-cigarettes come off as novelty with limited-edition flavors and packaging that entice users to want to buy the product since it might not be around much longer.

What we know about e-cigarettes is that they have helped people quit smoking. Many times former smokers find the need to keep their mouths and occupied stemming of the habit of smoking cigarettes. E-cigs help fill that void and are perceived as a better alternative. But e-cigs have not officially been recognized as a quitting device.

The new social experiment

To understand more about e-cigarettes for myself I went to The Vapors Edge E-Cig Shop at 1901 Mass St. The store is a local family owned and operated business by Robby Swonger. When I walked inside I saw two young girls and a guy hanging out in the store. One was working and the other two vaping and hanging out – none of them looking older than 18.

Swonger, a former nurse practitioner, smoked two packs of cigarettes a day for most of his life. He turned to e-cigs as a way to quit smoking and has never looked back. “I thought that if it worked for me, it could work for others,” he says.

But he does not encourage people to use it as an alternative to traditional cigarettes to nonsmokers since nicotine is still an addictive substance. He says that if a customer does not have a history with cigarettes, he will not sell them e-cigs.

“I do not encourage anyone who does not have a history of smoking to vape,” he says. “Why would you want to add that to your lungs?”

He says that main age range his store sees is 34-to-50 year olds who have quit smoking. Even though there are no studies supporting e-cigs as an official cigarette-quitting device, he does say that it has helped many, including himself, quit smoking. While the store may see a range of customers from 20 to 90, he says that he will not sell any products to anyone under 18. He doesn’t want to encourage anyone who is not smoking already to take up vaping.

Zack Lickteig, a sales associate at the store, says that he began smoking around the time he was 13, dipping by the time he was 15 and now at 19 has been tobacco free since he started vaping about a year ago.

He believes in the social influence that vaping has created. “It’s a very social thing, it’s like the hookah culture,” Lickteig says. “The vaping community has been rising and rising so much. There are vape clubs, conventions, lounges and it has been helping people quit.”

But he also believes that the price and the variety of flavors are also causing popularity amongst the younger consumers. Currently, the FDA has banned the use of flavors as marketing tools in many cities and counties across the Untied States since it might attract younger audiences and entices them to use the product.

Kyndra Willis hangs out in the store with Lickteig and another friend. At 18, Willis also says that she uses vaping to help her quit smoking. She started smoking cigarettes when she was 14 and vaping two years ago. She believes that people start vaping because of acceptance. “I think mostly for people around our age it’s mostly for popularity,” she says. “For most people it is, but for people like me, it’s to help stay calm and not smoke cigarettes.”

Willis says that when she gets stressed she will turn to vaping. It’s an easy way for her to just sit back, relax and have a few minutes to herself with her e-cig. She does not believe in the vaping for approval.

And neither does Swonger. He does not like the idea that people would use the product for popularity. “I would hate to see e-cigs labeled as a popularity thing,” he says. “If it turns out that way, that’s how we’re going to get the FDA involved.”

Vaping anywhere

All though vaping is allowed in restaurants, gambling facilities and bars, both Swonger and Lickteig believe that there is a level of respect that comes with it. Since the e-cig does not get hot enough to combust, the vapor has not shown any evidence of carcinogen being produced, making it as far as we know to be safe to breathe second hand.

But even though you can vape while enjoying a meal or a cocktail, that does not mean it is socially acceptable to pull out an e-cig and start vaping while you have a drink or eat your dinner. There is still the stigma that comes with smoking in public places. People have the image of cigarettes creating of clouds of smoke, filling the air with the thick smell that clings to your clothes and hair, believing it to also apply to e-cigs. But since e-cigs do not produce smoke, and the vapor flavors may create a subtle scent, it does not produce a smoke cloud or a foul smell.

Swonger says that vapers should be reverent when vaping in public spaces. “It’s not a cigarette and it does not have any smoke or carcinogens,” he says. “But I don’t vape in restaurants or on planes. It’s just a respect thing and we all need to respect each other.

The future of e-cigarettes

Swonger says that he says does not want vaping to be taken as a fad and it still be taken seriously and should only be used by people who have a history smoking.

Swonger says that if it does become a certified nicotine replacement device it would become a pharmaceutical tool then, which is what the vaping industry is trying to avoid because the FDA would then become involved.

Currently, the FDA does not regulate cigars, pipe tobacco, gels and wastepipe tobacco, but that might all soon change. The FDA has talked about extending the deeming period, which started April 2014, to get more time to understand the product.

Chen also says that more research needs to be done in order to determine how harmful e-cigarettes actually are. She says that if people are able to see how the youth perceive the culture of these products, it could help us understand how it could effect nicotine addiction in adolescents.

For right now all anyone can do is wait to see if further research can determine whether or not e-cigs are just as harmful as cigarettes or if they could actually be good nicotine replacement tools.

Edited by Katie Gilbaugh

Lawrence’s Leatherbound Gems

4.27.2015

By Emily Brown

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As I walked through the stacks of the Kenneth Spencer Research Library, I inhaled the scent of musty, old books, and I struggled with the urge to trail my fingers across the bindings. I passed books written in foreign languages, some from the early eleventh century and onwards. The books were wrapped in leather and crumbling paper, and some stood taller than the size of a small child. I was book drunk.

The Kenneth Spencer Research library houses the University’s collections of rare books, manuscripts and archives. Built in the 1960s with a donation by Helen Spencer as a memorial to her husband Kenneth Spencer, the library is open to the public and students. The library is the perfect place to indulge one’s curiosity in the sensory experience of old books and manuscripts.

The library has three main collections students can explore: the University Archives, the Kansas Collection and the Special Collections. The University Archives tells the story of KU through department records, administration records, game footage and photographs. The Kansas Collection, covering the territorial period to the present, focuses on everyday people and their experiences in Kansas. The Special Collections covers everything beyond Kansas, from the antiquity to the present.

These collections do not only illustrate history, but the origins of books, too. Many of the older books predate printing, showcasing the beautiful crafting of a handmade book.

“It is kind of surprising and wonderful that anybody, but especially students, can really access some of these things — really amazing things from across the world that you can get to without having to leave campus” says Caitlin Donnelly, head of public services.

Unlike the other libraries on campus, the collection materials remain in the building due to the rarity and delicate condition of some of the objects. You can request to see certain materials in the Marilyn Stokstad Reading Room. The books are kept in the stacks, where only student workers and staff members are allowed.

While students aren’t allowed behind the stacks like I was, they can travel down the North Gallery, where only a glass wall separates the viewers from some of the oldest pieces in the Special Collections.

Ashley Hutchison, a student worker who is majoring in Mechanical Engineering, finds requests in the stacks and brings them to patrons in the reading room. Before handing the pieces over to students, she arranges the items with book supports or book weights, ensuring the artifacts are kept in the best condition possible.

One of her favorite pieces is a first edition of Sir Isaac Newton’s personal journals, kept in the Spencer’s vaults with other rare first editions. “It is possibly the greatest thing for my little nerd self,” she says.

Hutchinson encourages students to visit the Spencer library because she believes it is an amazing resource that is not being utilized enough by undergraduate researchers and fellow book lovers.

If a student needs a primary document or original source, the Spencer library is the place to find it. The library owns some of the rarest volumes and materials in the world. The librarians of the Kenneth Spencer Research Library let Style on the Hill in on ten of the library’s hidden gems — pieces that you can see for yourself anytime.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Book of Hours, France (ca. 1470)

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This handmade book of hours was created in France. A book of hours included prayers that people would say at different hours of the day. The Latin text is illustrated with paint and gold leaf and is surrounded by vines, flowers, and birds. “This is one of our real treasures,” says Karen Cook, special collections librarian.

Maps in Ptolemy’s Geographiae manuscript, Italy (printed in 1508)

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Claudius Ptolemy, a genius mathematician and geographer, lived in Alexandria circa AD 100-160. His writing survived in the Middle East, and in the 1300s was brought back to Europe. This particular manuscript, printed in Rome in 1508, includes longitudes and latitudes of different places in the world. At the end of the book, the Europeans were able to reconstruct his maps using those numbers. The map is of the old style — the belief that the world was flat and ended beyond India. While geographers were aware of the existence of the New World in 1508, they did not wish to change Ptolemy’s traditional map.

Fetes Données a Versailles en 1664-1666

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This is a set of more than 40 volumes that record the life of the French Court, a half century or so before the French Revolution. The book includes engraved illustrations that showcase Versailles in all its glory. Ceremonial marches, plays, exotic animals, and fireworks are all displayed on the grounds of the French palace.  “I actually went to Versailles for the first time about five years ago, and this is what it looks like,” says Cook. “I could see how they could turn something like that into a stage.”

Sumerian Cuneiform Tablets (ca 2112-529 BC)

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These tablets date from the beginnings of writing — the type of script people wrote in was called cuneiform. They used sticks with a triangular point at the end to write in wet clay. This collection is mostly everyday, business-related documents. The smaller tablet is a receipt for a dead lamb. Another is a legal record of an execution of two brothers who had killed their father.

Scrapbook of Florence Harkrader

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This is a student’s personal scrapbook; she was at the University from 1916-1919. She helped roll bandages for the American Red Cross during World War I. Her scrapbook also included homemade party invitations, dance cards and sports programs. “I like the student scrapbooks because they are always different. Most of them are from the early 20th century, and there are photographs of the students themselves, programs of plays and athletic events” says Rebecca Schulte, University archives librarian.

John Gould Sketch (ca. 1801)

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These birds, roughly drawn and colored with blues, pinks, and greens, were produced by John Gould. Gould was a London publisher who specialized in books about exotic birds. This is a sketch done by one of his professional artists who did the illustrations for his books. The faint sketches and lines are Gould’s corrections to the illustration. 

Creative outlets for college students

4.23.2015

By Emily Brown

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As I checked into the front desk at the Lawrence Arts Center, a performer with sparkly-grey face makeup and feathers in his hair popped into the office. Upstairs, racks of shiny outfits stood in the hallway as two women used a garment steamer to dewrinkle fabric. The women were putting final touches on glittery costumes — the Lawrence Arts Center’s School of Dance was preparing for an important performance the upcoming weekend. A group of returning potters listened to a faculty member in the ceramics studio, and original art hung on the walls of the visual arts studios.

The community arts center has numerous opportunities for students to learn, perform, and create. Style on the Hill wanted to check out the best options for college students.

The Lawrence Arts Center, one of the top three art centers in the nation, focuses on three things: exhibitions, performance, and education. The building is located downtown, a perfect location for students looking for a hobby outside of their major or for supplemental art education.

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While performances and exhibitions occur regularly, the education part of the arts center permeates the entire building, Margaret Morris, the chief program officer, says.

There are dozens upon dozens of classes for students to try out, and the topics range from printmaking to Irish dance. There are classes for beginners and for more advanced learners.

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Students can take classes in ceramics, digital media and photography, textile arts, drawing and painting, jewelry and metals, paper and book arts and writing. The Lawrence Arts Center School of Dance offers classes in tap, jazz, hip hop, and other dance mediums.

Olivia Hernandez, a KU student majoring in Fine Arts, began working at the Lawrence Arts Center in 2010 as an art model. After modeling for an art class, she saw a sign advertising for volunteers. She started volunteering as a way to give back to the place she loved, and in 2014, she was hired as the dance program coordinator.

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Throughout the years, she has taken numerous classes at the Lawrence Arts Center, including Adult Ballet, Adult Modern dance and Imaginative Drawing. She says the arts center is a great place to receive a diverse range of teaching and instruction.

“If you are lucky enough to have a resource like the arts center, that offers great faculty and great financial aid, to a poor college student, there is nothing better,” she says.

Susan Tate, CEO of the Lawrence Arts Center, says the classes are perfect for students.

“It is not very expensive to take a class at the art center,” she says. “A student who is a business student might not have time in their schedule to take ceramics at KU, but might be able to come here and take ceramics. It is not the same commitment as taking a University class, nor is it the same expense.”

The cost can depend on the length of time the class meets and the medium. Classes can be as cheap as $80 (Adobe Illustrator) or as high as $273 (Ballet VI & VII).

The faculty teaching the classes have Masters Degrees in their area of teaching, and because the Lawrence Arts Center has a partnership with KU, many of KU’s faculty also teach at the arts center.

“What I really like is there is a real quality to the faculty,” Hernandez says. “Everybody has a strong background in what they are teaching. It is really, really enriching.”

The Lawrence Arts Center has numerous other opportunities for students to learn or engage in art. To learn more about what classes are held, or some of the upcoming performances, check out their website at http://lawrenceartscenter.org/.

 

Married before graduation: trends, fears, and successes

4.21.2015

By Katie Gilbaugh

Wedding 2

Two 15-year-olds sneak out of their homes at midnight to meet at a park in Derby, Kansas. They talk until 3 a.m., but the boy can only replay his script over and over in his head until he finally blurts it out. “Do you want to go out with me?” She smiles and says, “yes.”

Four years later, the couple, now college students, decides to spend their Christmas gift money on a trip to Houston, Texas. They are wandering in a nature center and notice a wide, open clearing. The boy asks to take a picture, and once again nervously plays his script over and over in his head. As the camera shutter snaps, he gets down on his knee and finally blurts it out. “Will you marry me?” Again, she smiles and says, “yes.”

Seniors Trevor Prater and Aurora Yager have been married for eight months, but have been together for nearly six years. They don’t give off the vibe of a young married couple. They don’t hold hands and touch each other incessantly. The only sign that they are married are the rings on their hands and their eye contact. It seems as if every time either one of them spoke or told a story, they looked lovingly at each other.

“I think that maybe some people want to get married young, but I think with us that wasn’t the case,” Prater said. “It’s just because we happened to meet each other so early that we ended up getting married.”

Saying “yes” to dating as a 15-year-old isn’t unusual, but sending out wedding invitations before senior year of college is something of a rarity. Prater and Yager, both 21 years old, are unusual, especially when compared to the average marrying age in the US. In 2013, the average age that a man married was 29, for a woman, 26.

According to a 2014 survey by the Pew Research Center, just 26 percent of people ages 18-32 are married. This statistic follows the declining trend of young people choosing marriage. In 1997, 36 percent of 18–32-year-olds were married; in 1980, it was 48 percent.

Dr. Randy Moredock says there’s a consistent trend of couples reaching their senior year and struggling to make a decision about whether to continue in the committed relationship. Moredock has experience with college students, having worked as a counselor at Brockport State College of New York for 25 years. He is now working as a therapist in Lawrence. He is a clinical member of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy and has counseled couples of every age.

“I think a lot of people don’t think about it in terms of a focused activity—a ‘love will conquer all’ type of thing,” Moredock said. “I’m a die-hard romantic myself, I’ll be honest, but love does not conquer all. It gets pretty lonely if you haven’t seen your significant other in a month or something like that.”

So what’s causing the decline in marriage rates since the 1960s? Moredock has a few theories—first that the high divorce rate is instilling a fear of marriage in younger generations.

“They may come from a family history of multiple divorces so there are a lot of factors impeding on them to get married,” Moredock said.

Maybe it’s not a lack of desire to be married, but rather a lack of finances. Sixty-nine percent of unmarried milennials said they’d like to get married; they’re just waiting for economic stability before making the leap to lifelong monogamy.

Moredock’s second theory is focused on how the function of marriage has changed.

“I think it comes down to, that the role expectation has changed so much over the years,” Dr. Moredock said. “There is no longer an expectation that the wife will move for the husband’s career and so there’s a lot of great stuff going on. I see it as ultimately a positive but it can be a real stressor.”

In 2013, an economist and MIT grad student published a report that says the economic value of marriage for women has been reduced. Because more women are getting an education, making money and exercising control over fertility choices, they simply don’t need the economic support of a husband.

Yager’s only mention of difficulty in marrying young was when she discussed their careers. Yager, a social welfare major, is applying for grad schools while Prater, a chemical engineer, begins working in Kansas City.

“That is something hard when you’re in a serious relationship with someone, because it’s like, how do we make this work?” Yager said. “How do we support ourselves while getting our immediate goals done? It’s a little more complicated in planning, but it works out.”

Kathy and Mark Schulte faced a similar complication when they got married in 1986. Kathy had just finished her junior year at the University of Kansas and Mark was three years older, already graduated, and working in Kansas City.

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“It just made sense for us,” Kathy Schulte said. “I never doubted the decision for a minute. It’s not like we were rushed into it; for our situation it made a lot of sense. A lot of it was plain: we wanted to be together, and if we weren’t married then we weren’t together.”

In August they celebrated their 28th wedding anniversary.

She remembers having to switch colleges for a semester her senior year because of her husband’s job. She then transferred back to KU, then moved to Wichita and finished her degree in personnel administration as a guest student at WSU. For any couple wanting to get married while in college, Schulte strongly believes in the importance of finishing school.

“Marriage should be a partnership and I want my kids to feel like an equal partner in the marriage,” she said. “If they would choose to get married in college, I want them to feel confident in themselves and feel confident in their ability to provide for themselves and their families.”

Whether getting married in 2014 or 1986, both couples and Moredock emphasized the importance of communication. However, Kathy Schulte put it best.

“I think the best gift you can give your kids is a successful marriage so you have to make sure you’re still talking, still communicating and that you don’t grow apart,” Schulte said. “If you’re expecting every day, every year to be wonderful that’s just not realistic. There will be times when your spouse annoys the hell out of you, but you have to have that staying power, remember that you’re not perfect either, and have that gumption.”

For myself and for many unmarried college seniors, the thought of marriage is one that can instill annoyance and even fear. However, couples like Mark and Kathy or Aurora and Trevor might just be the examples the pessimistic Gen-X needs when approaching marriage.

“You’re rolling the dice at this point,” Dr. Moredock said. “You like this person and fit well with this person, do you want to change the course of your life to be with this person? It’s pretty spooky.”

Dressing to impress: a how to guide for landing the job

4.20.2015

By Ashleigh Lee

It’s the night before a big interview and you are getting everything in order for tomorrow. Your resume is polished and printed. Your alarm is set, even though you won’t be able to sleep a wink. The only thing left to do is to figure out what to wear. You check the email again for the dress code– business casual. What does that even mean?

Kelsey Ploeger an assistant director at the University Career Center helps students with mock interviews, resumes and topical workshops. Ploeger helps break the differences between business professional and business casual. “Business professional is most normal for interviews, unless indicated otherwise,” Ploeger says. “Usually for women it’s plain colors, a blazer, pants, skirt and a blouse, and for men it’s nice slacks and a blazer.”

Business casual is less common, but allows for adding more personality to the outfit. “Here women can wear a casual dress or skirt without a blazer but maybe a cardigan or a sweater,” Ploeger says. “Men can wear slacks and a sweater as well.”

Ashley DeMond, a recruiter for Netsmart Technologies, recommends not being too bold in your clothing choices. “It’s more important to let your personality come out when you answer the questions during the interview than in the way that you dress,” DeMond says.

She says that it’s better to err on the conservative side and to always look sharp. “A lot of times people will come in and their shirts will be wrinkly or the shoes look worn,” she says.

One piece of advice that DeMond offers is to be comfortable in what you do end up wearing. You will appear more confident and know what exactly what you will feel good in.

Caitlin Uyemura, a senior in chemical engineering from Osage City, will begin working at Chevron Phillips Chemical in Houston after graduation as a stream process engineer.

“Engineering is pretty boring,” Uyemura says. “It’s usually frowned upon to be out the box.”

Uyemura interviewed for a summer internship at Chevron and kept her outfit simple. “For that interview I kept it pretty basic in business formal,” Uyemura says. “I wore dress pants, a blouse and low pumps.”

Uyemura’s advice to anyone going up for a big interview is to be overdressed than to be underdressed.

“More likely than not, a company is not going to not hire you for being overdressed,” she says.

Except maybe if you’re interviewing at Google. Kendal Harland a senior in computer science from Olathe, will be working for Google as a software engineer after graduation. He says that the recruiters told him specifically not to dress up for the interview.

“There were no specific requirements on what I couldn’t wear, as long as I just didn’t show up looking like a bum,” Harland says.

Start up and tech companies are usually very causal and do not require employees to dress up while interviewing or even while working. Most employees can be seen wearing graphic tees and shorts or jeans.

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“For my interview I wore some nice brown boots and a button up shirt,” Harland says.

Harland recommends that people research what you should wear to the interview and the company by doing a Google search or talk to someone who already works there. He said that he saw what everyone was wearing when he visited.

“I think the only reason why I didn’t wear a suit and tie was because I looked at what people wore to those types of interviews,” he says. “It never hurts to do a bit of research.”

If you need help with your resume or searching for a job, contact The University Career Center http://career.ku.edu/appointments or call 785-864-3624.

The Man Who DJs Your Night Out

4.14.2015

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By Lyndsey Havens

“Everyone will go crazy if you play this one song, I swear,” an unidentifiable club-goer says to the man behind the plexiglass. The request will go unanswered though, as they often do. DJ Savy already has 90 percent of his songs selected.

DJ Savy has two main “crates” or playlists that he uses, both which have well over 500 songs in them. One is called “General White Person Bar;” the other is “Club Goin’ Up.”

“Part of being a good DJ is knowing your music,” says DJ Savy, more commonly known as Josh Savitt, a Kansas alum from Hopkins, Minn. “How to react to a crowd and how to best play your music — in the right way and the right order — to receive the best reactions from the crowd or audience. DJs who play only music they like suck, and DJs who don’t know when to play the right songs suck.”

Intermixed within his playlist is what can only be described as a verbal logo—an automated voice that says “DJ SAVY” blares through the surround sound speaker system in the bar as one song fades into the next. Lights flash, drinks clink and above all else, people are dancing.

Savitt, 24, graduated from the University in 2014 with a degree in social welfare. Halfway through his final year in graduate school he decided to attempt to make a living off his passion. He also has been solely DJing as a means to support himself since May.

“It’s addicting,” Savitt says. He seems uncertain as to why exactly he is so passionate about DJing, but says he enjoys being his own boss, having the power to choose where and when he gigs.

Most weekends are set in stone for Savitt ­— he DJs at Tonic on Thursdays and the Cave on Saturdays. On Fridays he rotates among various places such as Power & Light, Westport or “random Kansas City bars.” He says if DJing doesn’t work out, he will get a “real job like everyone else.”

But until then, he is perfectly content—and tonight, he takes on Tonic.

The small size of the dance floor fools the eye, making it appear to be full even though the current crowd doesn’t nearly exceed capacity. Then again, it is only 11:30 p.m. DJ Savy has at least another two hours to go.

Savitt’s parents bought him his first two turntables and a mixer in 2006. He was 16 at the time. He says he has always loved rap and hip-hop music, and appreciates artists such as Atmosphere, Brother Ali and Doomtree/P.O.S that all hail from Minneapolis.

There may be no apparent connection between a degree in social work and a career in entertainment, but Savitt says the two “commonly share positive human relationships and working with others to obtain a set of goals.” He says a DJ must learn to create the “right atmosphere,” one that motivates people to buy drinks and spend money. This essentially creates a positive relationship with the owner, manager, bartenders and patrons of the bar or club. Savitt appears to be accomplishing this particular goal tonight, considering each of the four available bars within Tonic is busy.

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Being a DJ creates an unusual juxtaposition by combining a night out with work. Savitt says he often sees friends out enjoying themselves while he is DJing, and while some fall victim to annoying antics such as requesting a song or attempting to engage in conversation, he says his friends “know it’s time for me to do my thing and not be distracted, and they respect that.” Though he says others sometimes fail to understand that his work “requires complete attention.”

Occasionally though, his attention is strained when out of the ordinary things occur. Savitt says when he was recently DJing in Lawrence, “I won’t say where,” he says, he remembers talking with a customer who had apparently “been drinking all day.” Savitt says later that night, as he was packing up, the same man was found sleeping in the bathroom. “I got a good kick out of that one,” Savitt says.

The perks of being a DJ often outweigh the distractions though. Savitt says he can’t believe he gets paid to “spin records for hundreds of people” while also receiving free food, drinks and anything else he may need from the bar, club or venue.

A common misconception about being a DJ is that you get booked based on skill and appeal, Savitt says, but in reality, “the shittiest DJ could be DJing at a venue or bar” because of something as simple as having the right equipment or being friends with the booker.

“I’ve been around long enough and gained enough respect from the people in the industry that I’ve been able to secure steady, weekly gigs,” Savitt says.

One person he has gained the respect, and friendship, of is local singer-songwriter Brian Lockwood, a fifth year Communications major at the University from Vernon Hills, Ill. Lockwood says he met Savitt early in his college career. They have remained close friends ever since.

“I knew him as the guy to talk to about booking shows or really making any kind of moves in Lawrence,” Lockwood says. “He was just always putting cool events on that everyone I knew went to.”

As of lately, a usual day for Savitt is fairly formatted. He says he wakes up around 10 a.m. after coming home between 2-4 a.m. He first does some “normal day stuff,” which he didn’t specify, and then he reviews and critiques his set list from the previous night.

Savitt says his ultimate goal is to become a national touring DJ “playing gigs in different clubs and states every weekend.” The job does come with its fair share of challenges, such as carrying gear, getting gigs, staying focused for over five hours, and, of course, “making money while spinning records.” But for Savitt, such tasks are trivial.

Lockwood says Savitt is in a different position than most other DJs. “This is not what he has to do, this is what he loves to do,” Lockwood says. “And that true passion can be seen in every set.”

 

Edited by Erika Reals

Heard on the Hill

4.06.2015

 

The SOTH spies are at it again and have continued listening to professors, students and campus randos for the funniest, weirdest and most out of context quotes. Each week we’ll be posting a compilation of the best ones. If you’d like to contribute to Heard on the Hill, email your overheard quips to styleonthehill@gmail.com.

Heard on the Hill graphic

  • Guy1: “Should we pick up girls at the bar or a house party?”
    Guy2: “Cheaper to pick up a girl at a house party. But we have the same chances of getting the clap, so fuck it.”

  • Teacher: “Do what you’ve gotta do to get in the writing mood before Thursday’s class.  Take a shot of liquor, a couple hits… you know, whatever.”

  • Girl 1: “What are you like politically?”
    Girl 2: “At heart, I’m a communist.”

  • Girl in bar bathroom to friend: “My boyfriend is so cool when he buys Chapstick he is able to keep it the whole time until it runs out.”

  • Friend 1: “I’m so pasty and pale.”
    Friend 2: “You’re not pasty and pale, you’re shiny and clear.”
    Friend 3: “Like Twilight.”
    Friend 1: “You guys are so high.”

A Night to Remember: Dancing With KU Tango Club

4.02.2015

By Mark Acre

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On a Thursday night, the unofficial start of the weekend for college students, I’m in the English Room of the Kansas Union for a meeting of the KU Tango Club.

Dimly lit chandeliers illuminate the white and brown walls and mahogany floor. I wait for the class to start in one of the chairs lining the wall of the room, observing other participants who were seamlessly dancing before the class formally begins. This makes me painfully aware of one fact – I don’t know how to dance. The subtle uneasy I feel in the moment harkens back to high school dances of yesteryear where much like the dress clothes I would wear, my dancing never seemed to feel right. I specifically recall a moment during my freshman year homecoming dance with Shelby, a girl from the homecoming group I went with. We stayed arms length apart as we danced, hands mostly at the shoulders. While subsequent dances were much more enjoyable, I was wondering if this tango class would make me feel like that experience did – graceless, gawky, inexperienced.

Every Thursday the club has structured lessons for beginners and intermediate level dancers. People can attend either or both, with the beginner lesson starting at 7:30 p.m. and the intermediate lesson starting right after. Every Monday night the club has “practicas” at the upstairs of the coffee shop Signs of Life. They’re more social and people just dance without any organized instruction. Both nights are free to students; my only required cost for this night was the courage to try something new.

My fears were quickly put to rest. The small group of ten people – a mixture of students and community members – was very welcoming.

Ali Imran, a graduate student from Lawrence and president of the club, led the group the entire evening. He first asked us to separate, with guys on one side and girls on the other. Imran then asked one of the participants, a girl who from what I saw earlier seemed pretty experienced, to help demonstrate some tango moves. Imran reviewed the previous week’s lesson, which delved into things called the cross and ochos.

I learned while tango has “leads” and “followers” both collaborate during the course of the dance.

This is what in part attracted Shalinn Starkey, a senior in Film and Media Studies and a regular to the club.

“I’ve done a little bit of other kinds of dances, but this is different because of the connection I think you have with someone,” Starkey says. “Like in Ballroom dancing for example, it’s all in the lead, but I feel like in Tango it’s more of a partnership. It’s kind of like your creation with someone else.”

With the floor as their canvass, Imran and girl with the blue dress kept their feet close as they walked, with their ankles and knees brushing as one leg passed the other, painting an elegant picture. After they showed the basics of the cross – taking a side step and then walking for three steps – we partnered up. A woman generously asked if I wanted to dance with her. Tango is danced in a counterclockwise circle so as the various partners danced, Ali walked around looking to help. He taught me my first lesson saying, “You need to get closer to her. Oh an put your hands on her waist.”

Partners usually spend most of the dance in embrace according to Daniel Trenner, nicknamed the “Johnny Appleseed of Tango” for his role in teaching and spreading the influence of tango since its revival in the U.S in the mid 1980s. He says Tango is more connection and relationship-based than other dances such as Salsa or Ballroom dancing. “Tango has this character of an intimate social dance that involves an intimate and personal connection between the partners.”

We switched partners several times, taking breaks to listen to Imran and critique our form. While they were all strangers to me, I became more comfortable with them and dancing as more time passed. But there was something else about the dancing that was appealing to me, something Shaher Ibrahimi, a senior from Kansas City majoring in biochemistry, helped articulate.

“It’s like a release, it’s fun” Ibrahimi says. He admits it was the Al Pacino movie A Scent of A Women, which features an “awesome” tango scene that first made him interested in finding the club.

I began the evening fearing the worst, but ended up enjoying myself and it will forever be a night to remember.

Edited by Katie Gilbaugh

Toning On Twinkle Toes: Barre Workouts Come to Lawrence

3.30.2015

By Hayley Francis

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My legs were burning halfway in to the first set of second position pliés; the term just as foreign to me as the inner quad muscles that had apparently been hibernating. I firmly told myself I could handle this as the sweat accumulated on my upper lip. Relevé, down, up, relevé. Pulse, pulse, pulse. Several rounds of various plié and squat series followed, one arm on the bar and the other firmly outstretched and curved in second position. I thought I was fit, having run competitively for the Division I KU track and cross country teams for over three years, but this was an entirely new type of workout experience. I could feel every muscle I was working; they were all screaming at me.

Local Barre:
RydeBarre Cycle + Sculpt
rydebarre.com
1520 Wakarusa Dr., Suite E, Lawrence, KS
785-856-4044
Student Prices:
New Client Special: 3 classes $15
Drop-in $10
5 classes $45
10 classes $80
20 classes $140
30 classes $180

It was a Saturday morning and my roommate, a pregnant woman and I were the three sole victims of a barre workout at local RydeBarre. Not only was it my first stab at the trending exercise, my last ballet experience was when I was six years old. Needless to say, I didn’t know what to expect when I signed myself up for a class; but my body quickly learned barre’s burn. My internal dialogue as soon as we began: “Respect, ballerinas.”

Barre is an intensive full-body conditioning class that combines aspects of Pilates, ballet, and often yoga, incorporating the ballet barre. There are various variations, some that are more ballet-based and others that emphasize Pilates aspects or incorporate weight exercises. All are focused on toning and strengthening abdominal, glute, thigh and hip muscles through high-intensive, fast-rep exercises. Eliza Hale, co-owner and barre instructor at Lawrence’s only barre studio, RydeBarre, says she and her partner decided to offer barre classes as a complementing workout to their cycle classes because they work all different plains of motion.

“I think it’s an excellent workout because it fuses a lot of different disciplines into one,” Hale said. “You get strengthening and toning, you get increased flexibility with the stretches that are done, and there’s a great cardio element to it.”

RydeBarre opened two years ago, adding to the nation-wide, blossoming craze. Kansas City also has three barre studios, and Genesis Health Club is currently training staff to instruct classes in the near future, according to Genesis Lawrence Group Fitness Coordinator Cristal Barnes.

Other companies nation-wide are also capitalizing on the workouts’ benefits, evident of the nearly 700 corporate-owned studios now in the United States, with an estimated additional 100 opening within the next year, according to a wellness news article.

Much of this growth in popularity is due in part to celebrity endorsement, says Popsugar.com. Celebrities from Taylor Swift, Madonna, Natalie Portman and Drew Barrymore have all voiced positive feedback for barre, emphasizing its noticeable physical benefits.

The physical benefits are real, according to a 2010 study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. It found that participants who did two 60-minute Pilates workouts a week over a 12-week period had increased abdominal and upper-body muscular endurance and hamstring flexibility. The study said the Pilates benefits can help improve overall sport performance or athleticism.

Hale says anyone can reap the workout’s benefits as a complement to other cardio workouts. Although Hale says there haven’t been many students in her classes, she’s instructed both sexes of various ages, ranging from pre-teen to 70 years old. The workout is ideal for all ages because it’s physically and mentally challenging for all levels.

“You have to really think about the muscles you’re contracting. You can’t just make your grocery list while you’re doing pliés,” Hale said. “I have seen people who have been very, very physically fit be very humbled by the workout.” Check and mate.

After a testing fifty minutes in my first barre workout, I wanted to give myself a high-five. I had survived a class I never expected to be so challenging or rewarding. We had worked almost everything from head to toe. I was also addicted. While I was tired, I wanted to do it all over again.

 

Student Perspectives:

My roommate and former KU rower, Abbey Lozenski, experienced barre for the first time with me, and was also pleasantly surprised by its intensity (and her soreness the next day). “I thought it was going to be a little too prissy for me at first, but I was definitely wrong. It’s definitely a different workout than rowing,” she said. Lozenski also said she liked the class because it worked muscles she didn’t regularly target in other workouts, and it was a hard, different challenge, even for someone in good shape. “I like that you can push yourself as much as you want. I would definitely do it again,” she said.

My friend, Kaitlin Rabe, a senior engineering student from Stilwell, KS, has taken barre classes for over two years now. She says she enjoys barre because it is a great total body workout and is also fun. “Barre is one of the few workouts where I’m not constantly looking at the time to see how much of the class is left. It helps me to de-stress and focus on myself for a little bit,” she said. While she takes most of her classes in KC, she thinks many KU students don’t know about barre due to the local studio’s location and lack of advertising on campus.

Photo by Maddy Rich

Edited by Katie Gilbaugh

Dark Ages: Dealing with Depression as a Millennial

3.29.2015

By Austin Fisher

On a cold January night during my sophomore year at the University of Kansas, I’m lying awake in the pitch black of my bedroom at my father’s house in Lawrence. I should be asleep but I can’t stop worrying about school, money and family issues. After hours of thinking about how hopeless life seems, my legs tangled in my sheets and my mind as active as the moment I had lain down, a thought passes through me.

“Do I have enough money in my bank account to buy a gun?”

I was disturbed by the thought because I didn’t need to articulate those that would follow. I immediately knew what I was doing; I was considering suicide. Feeling trapped alone in the darkness, I woke up my dad, told him what was happening, and we agreed that I needed to seek help.

For a year and a half leading up to that night, I had been feeling what I now understand to be symptoms of depression. I am one of over 30 percent of college students who have felt so depressed in the last year that it was difficult to function. I can tell you this story because depression no longer has a stigma attached to it, which was an obstacle to me in seeking help.

Feeling sad or alone and need help? There are many resources available to you.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:
1-800-273-8255
suicidepreventionlifeline.org

Headquarters Douglas County Crisis Line:
785-841-2345
headquarterscounselingcenter.org

KU Counseling and Psychological Services (for students):
785-864-2277
caps.ku.edu

“It’s no more anybody’s fault that they have depression than if they had diabetes or other physiological issues,” says Sara Barnes, who has been practicing family counseling for 17 years. “I think that there’s been a big change in the last 10 years.” She says people—especially younger generations—are more open to talk about depression. Studies show that while most college students try deal with stress themselves, 90 percent don’t see anything wrong with seeking help. Most delay seeking clinical treatment because they feel the stress they’re experiencing is normal, they feel they could handle it on their own or with help from friends and family.

However, sometimes depression itself can prevent one from sharing their feelings. “I consider my academics to be a really big part of my identity,” says Calvert Pfannenstiel, who was diagnosed with dysthymia, a mild but chronic form of depression, along with seasonal affective disorder in June. In 2012, returning to the U.S. from a liberating summer internship in Switzerland, Pfannenstiel’s grades were floundering as he had difficulty readjusting to normal life and “the disheartening dynamics of my family,” referring to his parents’ divorce. That winter he became more reclusive, stopped going to class, slept too much and was hiding it all from professors, friends and family because he felt embarrassed about not succeeding in school. Depressive feelings that were present before the internship became amplified by a return to reality. After he opened up to his girlfriend Kayla DuBois and others close to him, he briefly entered the KU Counseling and Psychological Services program before switching to a private therapist, from whom he learned about lifestyle changes like exercise, disciplined sleep and exposure to sunlight. He also started taking 150 mg of bupropion and krill oil supplements, which contain fatty acids that help regulate his mood and prevent him from slipping into a depressive mind set.

“The difference is surprisingly noticeable when I don’t take it for a day,” he says.

Pfannenstiel admits that at one point DuBois was his sole source of happiness and pride. They have helped each other through rough patches since they met two years ago. “Calvert is one of the only people that’s never made me feel like I’m broken,” she says. Since childhood DuBois has felt depressive symptoms, but she assumed her problems weren’t worth bringing up. Her family didn’t validate her feelings and told her not to share her depression. She started seeing a therapist in November 2012, but stopped after ten months. Talk therapy isn’t for her. “Sometimes they’ll grab something that you say and go off on this tangent that wasn’t what you were getting at.” In January she moved to Austin, Texas, where her brother Ryan gave her a room of her own and got her into yoga and group anxiety therapy where she learned that it’s okay to ask for help. Caring for her infant nephew, Archer, was deeply therapeutic. “I would look at him and he had all this faith in me that I didn’t have in myself.”

There are many types of depression, and they can increase a person’s risk of having other disorders. “A physician could look at someone recently diagnosed with diabetes and say it was caused by their earlier depression, but it could also be that both were caused by something in the background,” says Dr. William Eaton, a professor of mental health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland. Background causes of co-occurring disorders could include genes or childhood trauma. Eaton says the risk for depressive disorder peaks between 25 and 30 years of age for women, and 30 to 35 years for men. “Anxiety and depressive disorders are very much comorbid,” he says, meaning they tend to occur together. Pfannenstiel still experiences dysthymia and seasonal affective disorder, DuBois also suffers from fibromyalgia and panic attacks, while I have major depressive disorder and social anxiety disorder. Major depressive disorder, or clinical depression, is typically a period of intense sadness and lack of motivation that lasts at least two weeks. Either way, talk or group therapy can help. Drugs can too, like with Pfannenstiel, but I chose to avoid them.

My introverted personality led me to stigmatize my own mental illness. Like DuBois, in the depths of my depression, I felt like my internal problems didn’t deserve to be expressed to the outside world, and sharing them would just burden others. This contributed to a mental isolation. I would be sitting next to an old friend but feel a nonexistent tension, like the space between us was filled with heat and static. At parties I would sit alone or never join conversations. But my friends and family were supportive when I started opening up. Many were surprised to hear that I was depressed; they told me I hadn’t shown any signs. I still struggle with why I stayed silent for so long. In 2007 only a quarter of adults with symptoms of mental illness believed that people were supportive while over half of all adults believed that people were supportive. Perhaps the stigma felt worse to me than it actually was.

Unable to tell anyone but my dad about my feelings, I went to the KU Psychological Clinic and started seeing a therapist, Katie. Initially I reported feelings of depression, loneliness, and infrequent, passive thoughts of suicide. Through therapy I would begin to understand why I was feeling this way.

SorryISpilledYourCoffee

Kayla DuBois made the above piece of art, called “Sorry I Spilled Your Coffee,” during her junior year of high school in 2009. There are about 200 different paintings underneath what you can see on the surface. While the original intent of the piece was different, DuBois says the process of making it was therapeutic for working through the events of an abusive relationship. The piece won a silver medal at the National Scholastic Arts Competition.

Part of the problem was I was still reflecting on the end of a three-month long relationship, over a year later. Ruminating on that and subsequent rejections led me to question my self-worth. Paradoxically I was both afraid of being close to someone again and of being alone forever. I wanted to forget the relationship, but I couldn’t move on. I also felt guilty for being so far away from my mother in Boston, who was unhappy with her job and begging me to come help her. I started questioning my worth as a son. By talking with Katie once a week, I would learn that I was obsessed with the past, unable to deal with the present, and unconcerned about the future. She found that I had increased emotional sensitivity, self-doubt, feelings of worthlessness, indecisiveness and a tendency to lose pleasure in things I once enjoyed. I had a general feeling of emptiness and lack of purpose. My grades had fallen, and I was questioning the entire prospect of being a writer. Before that hopeless night in my bedroom, my family dynamics, grades and sex life made me hate myself.

My therapy focused on changing my thoughts, attitudes and habits. I learned to recognize feelings of sadness or anger and to question these feelings, which forced me to consider how much control I have over them. Now I can recognize when I’m thinking in a depressive pattern, and try to get myself out of it. Getting enough sleep and exercising are now central to my well-being. Studies show that physical exercise does have an antidepressant effect for people suffering from mild to moderate depression. At Katie’s suggestion, I started running once a week, which became four times a week. This new habit, along with my own experiments with mindfulness meditation, made me healthier and improved my self-esteem.

For others, formal therapy just doesn’t work. Elliot Yochim has had clinical depression and bipolar disorder since the summer before he started college in 2011, when he also experienced a breakup. After having an emotional breakdown last year and losing interest in school, Elliot entered therapy for about a half a year until he felt like he wasn’t getting anything out of it anymore. “It was like talking to a wall. I didn’t get anything back except my own voice,” he says. For two months he was on antidepressants but they didn’t really help. Instead, he runs, writes, plays music and applies himself to his new major in theater design. “Having your life consumed by something you love is way better than just doing it on the weekends and between bathroom breaks.”

For anyone considering suicide, the causes are numerous and complicated. Unfortunately, people assume those considering suicide have reached that point because of character flaws. “The stigma about suicide is that this person is deeply troubled individually, and we often accredit all of that to their individual character rather than considering what’s going on around them,” says Jared Auten, a volunteer counselor for Headquarters Counseling Center in Lawrence. Auten works on a crisis line for Headquarters, where people can call if they feel depressed or are considering suicide. He gives callers a safe space to talk through problems and have their feelings validated and not judged. He joined Headquarters in the spring of 2013 both for the counseling experience and as a form of therapy and personal understanding. He lost his dad to suicide in 2006. He says he did experience grief, but not depression.

Like anyone else I have good days and bad, but now I know how to deal with the bad and appreciate the good. I no longer blame myself for everything that I don’t like about my life, and I see that people will support me. Overcoming depression is different for everyone, but the first step is the same: telling someone how you feel.

 

Edited by Erika Reals

From KU to KC: Girl Friday, Fabric, & Fashion

3.11.2015

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Photos and story by Aleah Milliner

Located at the historic Katz Drugstore building on the corner of Westport Road in Kansas City, vintage enthusiasts and design duo Lyndsey Helling and Lauren Tweedie spend their time dreaming up ideas and inspiration for their clothing line, Girl Friday.

They occupy two spaces out of the studio, a shared building for artists in the community, and have filled the walls with sketches, chalkboard wall quotes – “selling feelings from wall to ceiling “ – fabric samples, magazine cutouts (including a photo of delicious looking doughnuts), and various other materials. Silver and gold tinsel hang from the walls, and their hand painted fabric scraps are tucked away in a corner.

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Upon walking into their space, you get a sense strong sense of creativity and a fun, unique style that translates into Helling and Tweedie’s various clothing collections.

The girls met while working at Donna’s Dress Shop, a vintage clothing shop in Kansas City, MO. They worked together every Friday and bonded over their mutual interests in art and design, and especially of vintage clothing.

“The shapes are really striking. It is so much more unique than modern clothing. Vintage style is really unafraid,” said Tweedie, on why she gravitates toward the style.

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The pair began designing their line in their free time outside of their work at Donna’s. All of their clothing design has been a collaborative effort between the two, stemming from sketches and inspiration in the studio, and resulting in many hours and late nights of sewing.

Girl Friday debuted in June 2014 with a collection of shift dresses, circle skirts, and tunics, all constructed from vintage fabrics. They debuted their third line in September 2014, a dress collection using hand painted fabric, which included an eyeball-patterned dress.

Screenprinting was not an option for their designs, so they turned to hand painting.

“For the eyeball dress we painted yards at a time. Like a football field length of fabric. We just paint all of it, cut it up and assembled it. We wash all of the fabric first, paint it with textile pigment, let it dry, and then heat set the fabric. It is a very time consuming process,” said Tweedie, who worked with textiles in the Art and Design School while attending KU.

Both girls agree that they have grown creatively through designing Girl Friday.

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“I have gotten more confident. I don’t have the best sewing skills but I have learned a lot through this whole process. I jump at making the clothes instead of being hesitant about it,” said Helling.

Helling credits Finnish textile and fashion design company Marimekko as a major influence in her creativity. While her husband was conducting research in Finland, Helling had a lot of free time to explore, and there she discovered the company.

“I have this really amazing Marrimeko book that is so good and so inspiring. It talks about the company’s history, how it started, and how it evolved. I look at that book often for inspiration.”

As for Tweedie, she sparks her creativity through shopping, wandering through antique malls, and visiting The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City. She also credits Instagram as a source of inspiration.

Helling and Tweedie are currently spending their time in the studio creating their new line.

The line will be a collection of 1970s Sportswear and will debut at the 18th Street Fashion show in Kansas City June 13th, an event open to the public.

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“We have a friend who can really rock a jumpsuit. We wanted to make a jumpsuit with a hood on it, and we designed it around her,” said Helling.

The newest Girl Friday line will include bold, graphic prints and their first men’s outfit. The collection will be for sale immediately after, however only five outfits will be created.

Looking to the future, the girls hope to be designing full time for Girl Friday and to sell their clothes in as many retail stores as possible.

“I feel honored when anyone expresses interest,” Tweedie said.

Edited by Katie Gilbaugh

THE Definitive Guide to Leggings

3.10.2015

IMG_5473 By Audrey Danser

5 ways to wear ’em

For many students, throwing on a pair of leggings is the warmest and most comfortable solution to the bitter Kansas wind this time of year. However, instead of using leggings as an excuse for dressing down, here are five simple ways that leggings can be worn to dress comfortably while also achieving a polished look. Pulling together a more fashion-oriented outfit does not have to take much effort.

1. Save the athletic wear for the gym.

Leggings that look like athletic wear (you know, the black ones with bright pink V’s at the calf) should be saved for working out. I understand that it is convenient and comfortable to throw on the ‘athletic’ outfit for those early morning classes and just stay dressed that way for the rest of the day until you do actually make it to the gym, but that’s no justification. The rec center has locker rooms for outfit changes.

2. Tunics cover more than a T-shirt.

Tunics are too short to wear with tights, yet they look odd when paired with jeans. However, with skin-hugging leggings, the proportion is perfect: not too revealing and not too conservative. Now throw on a thick knit scarf and riding boots and you’re ready to face the winter wind. Tunics also, ahem… cover your booty (see October’s article ‘Butt Why: the Return of the Backside’).

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3. Wear them like tights.

The thought of wearing a dress or skirt in the winter can be chilling. However, if you pair a dress or skirt with more densely knit leggings, the weather and coverage is no problem. Although traditionally black, just like tights, leggings come in all different patterns and colors. When paired with a simple, neutral outfit like a solid black or grey dress, colorful leg wear can be a fun detail.

4. Wear it with a blazer.

What’s more striking than juxtaposition? Full-length black leggings can actually be quite sleek if paired with the right combination. Try pairing your outfit with black booties, a fit-and-flair-blouse, statement necklace and top-knot for a polished look. Alternatively, continue with the theme of juxtaposition and replace the blouse for your favorite band’s vintage T-shirt.

5. Think Audrey Hepburn.

Go for simple, yet elegant. Try pairing your 3/4 length black leggings with a black and white striped long sleeve T-shirt and flats. Top off your look with bold red lips for a pop of color. Now, how is that any more difficult to throw on in the mornings than what you’re already wearing?

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 Photos by Hannah Mougel

Modeling by Bailey Degnan

Edited by Katie Gilbaugh and Erika Reals

Heard on the Hill: The Chaos Continues

3.09.2015

After a bit of a hiatus, our SOTH spies have continued listening to professors, students and campus randos for the funniest, weirdest and most out of context quotes. Each week we’ll be posting a compilation of the best ones. If you’d like to contribute to Heard on the Hill, email your overheard quips to styleonthehill@gmail.com.

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  • Girl to friend: “Full disclosure, you were in my dream last night and I was really mad at you, and now I’m trying to not be mad at you in real life.”

  • Stranger at bar: “Your roommate tells me that’s your Keith Langford jersey?”
    College senior: “Sure is.”
    Stranger at bar: “So, you must have bought that when I graduating from KU, then. That was also Bill Self’s first year.”
    College senior: “Uh, I gotta go.”

  • Girl: “Did you see the opened bottle of cooking wine by the bathroom sink? Wonder how that went over.”

  • Guy 1: “So sex is a sin? Does butt stuff still count?”
    Guy 2: “Nah, man. It’s the poophole loophole.”

  • Girl: Is it normal that I’m basically looking forward to getting drunk just so I can be hungover and get Chipotle the next day?

 

Slack lining: the new rock climbing?

3.06.2015

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By Riley Mortensen

“Just go up,” said the voice in my head as I stood in a gym, one foot perched on a plastic red crate used as a stepping stool and the other gripping a long nylon tight rope looking line. I was preparing to walk at what felt like skyscraper height, but was no more than 4 feet off the ground. My heart was racing and bare feet tingled. I wiggled my toes nervously, took a deep breath and pushed off the crate throwing my body up and onto the line. I wobbled like a baby doe learning to walk. One step, two step and down I went, but I had done it. I was slack lining.

In a rock climbing gym called The Cave, for $15, I had decided to give slack lining a go.

I giggled, as I got ready to give it another try.

“Did you ever dance or anything like that,” said Lyle Harte, a tall friendly fellow in a t-shirt, shorts and climbing shoes. “Did you do ballet? It helps if you pick a point to focus on and just go straight up.”

Harte is a senior at KU studying economics and political science. Harte is also a member of the KU rock-climbing club, which is where his interest in slack lining stemmed from, but it all began with a deep love of being outdoors.

Harte and Mitch Friedeman, the current president of KU’s rock-climbing club, are my instructors for the evening. The two prefer slack lining outdoors, but because it’s 17F, we opted for a trip to The Cave, the only gym in the area that offers slack lining.

You have probably seen Harte, Friedeman and other students wobbling on their slack lines in front of Frasier Hall and Watson library, or South Park on Mass. St. They also like to “duel” or meet in the middle to see who can knock the other off first.

Despite numerous tries, five steps was as far as I got. Friedeman and Harte insisted that it just takes practice and it’s all about having fun.

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“What I really love about slack lining is when we get a little community of people on campus, like in front of Frasier and you know there’s just a bunch of us friends hanging out,” said Friedeman who is a senior studying visual communication. “It’s a good social thing because most people talk while one person walks. You can duel each other and it’s just a fun pastime activity.”

According to slackline.com, the sport’s origins lie with a group of rock climbers experimenting in Yosemite National Park in the 1970s. Adam Grosowski and Jeff Ellington began practicing their balancing skills in the valleys and between trees. The two could do numerous tricks including juggling and handstands. Friends of the two soon brought the sport back to Pasadena, California and from there it slowly spread. Now it’s finally making it’s way to the Midwest.

Kansas native and recent KU graduate, Julia Yang first began slack lining after joining the KU rock-climbing club about a year ago. She’s now a regular at The Cave.

“At first I thought it was something college people did to get attention on campus and it wasn’t a real thing,” Yang said. “But then once I joined the climbing community, I saw how it was another way to take you cool places outdoors.”

Yang said she really likes the challenge of slack lining. It’s one activity that you want to try over and over until you master it, Yang said.

Want to try slack lining for yourself? Here are some of Friedeman and Harte’s top tips:
1. Keep your knees bent. Do not lock them.
2. Use your arms to counterbalance your body. Keep them above your head if it helps, like you’re directing a plane.
3. Keep your feet straight on the line. Don’t turn them and keep your toes facing forward.
4. Pick a point somewhere beyond the line to focus on.
5. Don’t rush it.
6. If you’re falling, just jump off. You don’t need to try and save it. That’s when things go bad.

Many rock climbers take up the sport because it’s a good way to relax and waste time at camp while on rock-climbing trips, Friedeman said. It’s also a good way to not use your arms, Harte added.

Slack lines can run anywhere from $60 to $200 depending on the brand, and they typically cone with a ratchet, which is used to tighten the line. The wider the line, the easier it is to balance, said Friedeman and Harte. Slack lining is also an approved on-campus activity according to KU’s website, as long as you pad the trees where the line wraps around it.

“It can be bad for the bark,” Harte said. “But its not just specific tree pads you can use; people use towels too.”

The next morning, I woke up to throbbing legs and a few scrapes on my ankles. I was thankful I hadn’t racked myself as the guys call it. That’s a kind of recreational hazard where you fall with one foot on each side of the line and smack your groin. I had my reservations about slack lining before, but conquering my battle with balance had left me wanting more.

Time for you to give it a try. We know you know you want to, so here’s where to go:

The Cave

(816) 569-5792 // info@thecavebouldering.com
3150 Mercier St., Suite 641A
Kansas City, MO 64108
Monday-Friday: 3pm-10pm, Saturday and Sunday: 12pm-8pm
Cost: $11 per visit, $4 to rent rock climbing shoes

 

KU Rock Climbing Club

KU Rock Climbing on Facebook
KUClimbing@gmail.com
Club hours: Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday 8:30pm-10:30pm, and Fridays 5:30pm-8:30pm at the “Chalk Rock” climbing wall in the rec. during the fall/spring semesters.

 

Photos by Axel Cornejo

Edited by Katie Gilbaugh

The Tart Trend of Sour Beers

3.04.2015

By Alec Weaver

On a hot day last June my friend Corbin and I were spending some time at our favorite watering-hole. Trying to decide what to drink, the young woman behind the counter recommended we try the new “sour beer.” At first I was skeptical but after taking my first sip of the refreshing, lemony beverage I was sold. There is definitely something in the spectrum for everyone. From fruity Lambics to tart, crisp Berliner Weisses, Food and Wine has called the budding sour beer trend “the most exciting brewing trend right now.”

At first the phrase “sour beer ” might raise a few eyebrows, but the term is just a catch-all for five distinct styles of brew namely; Gose, Berliner Weisse, American Wild Ale, Lambic and Flanders Red Ale.

“Each style is going to have varying degrees of tartness and funkiness depending on the different strains of bacteria and yeast that are used” says Chris Cordero, who works for Cork & Barrel at 9th and Massachusetts.

Sour beers are by no means new, but there is a gathering interest in this style of beer. At Kansas Crown Discount Liquor, employee Kyle Wolfe says that he has seen this growing interest first hand. “I’ve definitely had more people asking about sour beers over the past year, it seems that more and more people want to try them.” Kansas Crown currently offers four different styles of sour beer; a Gose from Anderson Valley Brewing, a Berliner Weisse from Eviltwin, an American Wild ale from Boulevard and several Lambics.

Cork & Barrel offers the same beers in addition to a second Berliner Weisse from Eviltwin and several Flanders Reds and Cordero says that while there hasn’t been a sour beer boom in Lawrence, they have been getting more variety over the past year, with their popularity peaking last spring.

“We sold more sour beers during the warmer weather because they are really refreshing and work well as more of a session beer,” says Cordero.

So what gives sour beer that distinct taste? The secret lies in the bacteria. Geoff Deman, head of downtown brewing at Free State Brewing Co. says that sour beers get their distinct taste from two types of volatile bacteria which produce high amounts of acid during the brewing process. These yeasts can be added deliberately or can be cultivated from “wild” bacteria that occur when the beer is exposed to the open-air during the fermentation process. According to Deman these bacteria can be finicky and can even “infect” other beers, turning them sour.

“For this reason, breweries producing Sour Beers will dedicate specific fermenters, hosing, parts, and even entire packaging lines to the production of Sour Beers,” says Deman.

So are sour beers merely a fad among foodies or should you expect to see more cropping up?

“I think that sour beers are here to stay, but like all things food and beverage will likely see peaks and valleys with regards to popularity,” says Deman. “Classic beer styles that were popular over a decade ago, like Brown Ale, or Stouts, are less so now, with beer styles that push the envelope becoming more and more popular.”

 

If you’re curious about sour beers, you might want to give one of these brews a try, all of which are available locally.

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Name: Lovechild No.4
Brewery: Boulevard Brewing Company
Style: American Wild
Sourness rating: 8
Purchase at: Kansas Crown Discount Liquor, $17.99, 750ml
Description: Man oh man, this beer is funkier than James Brown in a paisley cape. Aged in both whiskey and wine barrels, Lovechild No.4 is without a doubt the most complex beverage that will ever pass your lips. The aroma of this beer is reminiscent of a good white wine, similar in astringency to chardonnay. The taste opens with a pleasant tartness before giving way to a more pungent flavor, similar to Roquefort cheese. This quickly fades to a subtle fruity sweetness that begs you to take another sip.


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Name: Justin Blåbær
Brewery: Evil Twin Brewing
Style: Berliner Weisse
Sourness rating: 5
Purchase at: Cork & Barrel, $9.99, 22 FlOz
Description:
This offering from Evil Twin Brewing is exactly what you’d expect a sour beer to taste like. Pronounced tartness at first sip gives way to the familiar maltiness of a macro lager. The Label claims that this beer is brewed with blueberries, but that flavor didn’t really come through.

 

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Name: Blood Orange Gose
Brewery: Anderson Valley
Style: Gose
Sourness rating: 6
Purchase at: Kansas Crown Discount Liquor, $8.99, 6 cans
Description:
A very refreshing session beer for the impending heat of summer. This offering from Anderson valley has a very bright and crisp orange flavor throughout.

 

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Name: Duchesse De Bourgogne
Brewery: Verhaeghe
Style: Flanders Red
Sourness rating: 10
Purchase at: Cork & Barrel, $4.89, 11.2 Fl Oz
Description:
This is a very intense sour beer. The initial sip is a huge fruity affair with a grape and red berries being the most prominent flavors. This then fades into a very tart punch, much like expensive balsamic vinegar.

 

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Name: Kriek Lambic
Brewery: Lindemans
Style: Lambic
Sourness rating: 1
Where to buy: Alvin’s Wines & Spirits, $9.71, 750 ml
Description:
Kriek is Flemish for cherry, and this traditional Lambic doesn’t lack for cherry flavor. Think of an Italian soda with a splash of alcohol and you’ll have the just of what this beer tastes like. There are several other flavors of Lambics (Peach, Raspberry, Grape) and the Lindemans Lambics are fairly easy to find around town.

 

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Name: Nomader Weisse
Brewery: Eviltwin
Style: Berliner Weisse
Sourness rating: 8
Where to buy: Mass Liqour, $18.00, 6 cans
Description:
Eviltwin’s Nomader Weisse is a little too tart to be a true session beer, but nevertheless it has a very crisp, clean flavor. Don’t let the exorbitant price tag fool you, there was very little complexity to the flavor and absolutely zero maltiness. In other words buy something cheaper and more drinkable or spend your money on one of the better brews listed above.

 

Photos by Jordan Thompson

Edited by Katie Gilbaugh

Made for the Middle

3.02.2015

Kansas City’s fifth annual Middle of the Map Festival dominates the month of April to bring the best music, film, and discussions to the heart of the Midwest.

By Hannah Pierangelo

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Like with Oreos and sibling order, sometimes the middle is the best. For Kansas City, it’s never been better to be in the middle. Of the map, that is.

Kansas City has seen more than a little national attention over the last year. We can thank America’s favorite pastime and the Royals for its time in the spotlight, as well as The New York Times’ shout out to the city for a revitalized urban setting that’s attracted many millennial residents. Being right in the middle of the country, the city is able to draw from the biggest and best ideas in art, culture, and music. Kansas City is, simply put, the pulse of the Midwest.

                    KEEP IN TOUCH
Record Machine
Website: therecordmachine.net
Twitter: @lerecordmachine
Facebook: /therecordmachine
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Middle of the Map
Twitter: @motmfest
Facebook: /motmfest
Tumblr: middleofthemapfest.tumblr.com

That’s where Middle of the Map Festival comes in. Now in its fifth year, the fest isn’t a toddler anymore; it’s finally hitting a growth spurt and standing on its own feet this year, having matured in more than a few big ways since its birth. What started as a music festival has expanded to add film and forum, much like the popular South by Southwest Festival held in Austin, Texas, each March. The music component has also added multiple days and venues to coincide with its ever-growing lineup, which passes 120 artists this year. To top it off, the festival expects to draw more than 10,000 people over three weekends to the beating heart of Kansas City.

“Music happens there 365 days a year,” said Nathan Reusch, co-founder and curator of the festival and founder of independent record label, The Record Machine. “It’s not like we’re entirely throwing this festival in a field in the middle of nowhere.”

For first-time attendees, this is a good year to introduce yourself to one of the more successful urban Midwest fests. The music weekend, held April 22-25, will span seven venues including the historic Uptown Theater, an outdoor stage in the district lot, and in smaller venues like The Riot Room, Record Bar, and Westport Saloon in Westport, said Reusch. Though fans must be 21 to attend shows at The Riot Room, Westport Saloon, and Ernie Biggs bar, Uptown Theater will be open to all ages and The Record Bar open to those 18 and older.

While the country’s most popular music festivals are hosting upwards of 50,000 people a day in empty fields, Middle of the Map is able to incorporate the best venues, restaurants, and the entirety of downtown Kansas City’s vibrant atmosphere into the event.

“That’s the thing about Kansas City,” Reusch says. “We’re not the largest market. We’re not New York, we’re not LA, we’re not Chicago. Lollapalooza, and Bonnaroo, and Coachella—those things exist. [Middle of the Map] is providing something that’s an alternative to that.”

The festival is also includes local acts on its bill as well as national ones. Iron and Wine will headline this year’s festival, but hardworking bands from Kansas City will share the stage with some of the festival’s bigger names in keeping with the festival’s local values.

Iron and Wine, pictured above, will be headlining this year's Middle of the Map Fest.

Iron and Wine, pictured above, will be headlining this year’s Middle of the Map Fest.

Hembree, an indie/alternative rock band based out of Kansas City, will play the third night of the festival before indie-folk artist Lord Huron at the outdoor stage.

“What’s unique about Middle of the Map is a lot of the local venues work together and you buy admission for the festival and you can walk in through anybody’s door,” says Matt Green, Hembree’s bassist. “It’s just cool because it’s a full city event, it’s not just grouped in one area like a normal festival would be. It creates a unique vibe. People can text each other and say, ‘You’re at the Jerusalem café? Well get down to The Riot Room, this band’s really good.’ It creates a lot of buzz really fast around the city.”

For more information and to buy tickets, visit middleofthemapfest.com.

 

Edited by Katie Gilbaugh

Photos provided by Nathan Reusch and Iron and Wine

Street Style: Spring Dreamin’

2.26.2015

Photos by Hannah Mougel

With spring quickly approaching (ignore the fact that there’s still snow on the ground) it’s time to dust off your favorite sandals and boyfriend jeans. Paired with a loose-fitting knit cardigan, simple tunic shirt and bold necklace, model Hannah Lieberman has created the perfect spring ensemble. The super cozy cardi still has an element of style when paired with gold accessories and black leather bag.

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Heard on the Hill: Second Edition

2.19.2015

Our SOTH spies have been listening to professors, students and campus randos for the funniest, weirdest and most out of context quotes. Each week we’ll be posting a compilation of the best ones. If you’d like to contribute to Heard on the Hill, email your overheard quips to styleonthehill@gmail.com.

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