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Join our team for Spring 2016!



The spring semester is coming up! We’re looking for some excited and passionate KU students to be a part of the Style on the Hill/The Hill team. If you love writing, photography, design, marketing, or social media and care about telling stories both on and off campus, SOTH may be for you. We’re an entirely student-run staff dedicated to documenting the fashion and culture of KU and Lawrence on our website, styleonthehill.com, and in our newly revived digital magazine, The Hill.

Joining our team is a great opportunity for professional experience with a publication (perfect resume builder!), plus it’s a lot of fun.

Here’s how to apply:

  1. Fill out this quick questionnaire so we can get to know you and your interests!
  2. Email us a few samples of your writing, photography, or design work at styleonthehill@gmail.com.

We look forward to hearing from you and bringing our readers another awesome semester. See you on the hill soon, Jayhawks!

Dejembe is for joy: A tribal beat for KU


By Erica Staab 

It’s a Monday night and about ten people are gathered in a semi-circle, each with a tribal drum between their knees. Their hands slap the head of the drums, playing along with the director, Dylan Bassett, in a warm up that sounds more like a heartbeat than an exercise. The rhythm transports us from the stuffy practice room in Murphy Hall on the University of Kansas campus, to a far away country in West Africa. This is where the music and drums being played originated from.

“Slap tone tone, slap tone tone,” Bassett says in a voice just loud enough to be heard over the drum beat, instructing the group on the rhythms and songs to practice next.

The African Drum Ensemble at KU, known as ADEKU, performs on campus to bring a sense of community to students and beyond. You may have heard their tribal sound at a Hawk week event, or danced to the rhythms at the annual KU Dance Marathon, where they perform every year. ADEKU was founded in 2007 by Khalid El Hassan, the Associate Director of the Kansas African Studies Center, through a grant from Chancellor Hemenway. The ensemble plays music from three main areas in West Africa: the ancient empire of Mali, Wolof of Senegal and Ghana.

This year, the group consists of around twenty members. There are two sections within the larger group, an advanced group for those who have experience playing, and a beginner group for those who might not have ever touched a drum before.

A sense of community
The drums, ornate and earthy, are called djembes. They are held between the knees and played with the fingertips and palm. There are also the dunun and the djabara, both of which are slightly larger and are played with a mallet. These are the drums from the ancient empire of Mali. Wolof of Senegal and Ghana have drums of their own that the group also plays.

“Traditionally, these drums were played by tribal members in order to celebrate different occasions,” said Kimberly Simonetti, a KU graduate. All the rhythms have their original purposes. Some were played at weddings and ceremonies. Others were part of a right of passages.”

One traditional rhythm the group plays originates from the dance of the strong men in North East Guinea, Bassett says. When two young men within a tribe had an issue with one another, they could get together and fight it out. This particular rhythm was played while they fought. Now, this ceremonially piece is played at parties and other gatherings to dance to, he says.

Traditional West African music isn’t written down, it is passed down from generation to generation. This is still how much of the music is learned and spread across the world today. Drummers travel to West Africa and watch others playing the rhythms in order to learn them for themselves. Traveling to West Africa and seeing rhythms that were familiar and learning new rhythms was an inspiring experience for both Bassett and Simonetti. Bassett took videos of his own to help the group here at KU learn more of the traditional rhythms.

One of the original meanings of the word djembe means to come together in peace, Bassett says. Playing together is a way for people to come together authentically. “It hits you in a deep place when you are playing music together. It speaks in a way words can’t speak.”

This music is for everyone
At the beginning of each semester, interested students are encouraged to stop by and participate in a class. No matter what your experience level is, this group welcomes you in. If you are interested in joining, make sure to come to the first meeting of each semester. After that, new members are no longer accepted.

Leah Stockton, a freshman minoring in African Studies from San Antonio, Texas discovered ADEKU while browsing the different KU clubs related to Africa. She had no prior instrumental instruction before wandering into the first ADEKU rehearsal of this semester. “I wasn’t sure if I was going to be any good at it at all,” Stockton says. “I don’t want to say it was easier than I thought, but I was able to do it.”

Learning a new lick takes time and repetition. The group’s hands fumble as they try to get it down. But when the rhythm comes together, it’s a powerful sound. “When you play it’s relaxing, but you’re also focusing really hard,” Stockton says. “And once you fall into the rhythm it just feels really good.”

Along with beginners, the group also has a place for advanced drummers to really get their groove on and learn new skills and techniques.

A well seasoned percussionist, Donovan Miller, a KU sophomore from Woodbury, Minn., says a friend of his got him involved in the group. He has been playing drums since he was 3 years old.
“Drums are just fun,” he says.

Watching Miller play, you can see his passion as his body is overcome by the beat and he dances along. As the group strikes the drums, their whole bodies seem to be engulfed by the sound. The connection with the rhythm is palpable as the players smile and laugh with each other. When the song ends, there is nothing but joy and quiet as the last reverberations settle.

“Djembe is for joy,” Bassett says with a smile on his face.

Stull Cemetery: Gateway to Hell?


Not far from Lawrence lies the sleepy little town of Stull. It’s here that a small, seemingly inconsequential cemetery sits on a quaint hill. A typical Kansas sight, if you will. But legend has it that Stull Cemetery is one of the seven gateways to Hell. Our staff photographers went to capture the creepy setting to get in the scary spirit just in time for Halloween.

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Photos by Emma Creighton

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Photos by Skyler Lucas.

Supposedly there is a sealed staircase descending into Hell located somewhere in Stull Cemetery. It’s said that the staircase can only be opened on Halloween and the spring equinox. But once you descend into Hell…you can never return!

Staff Style: Aleah


Welcome back to our final Staff Style of the summer! Today, meet our Assistant Editor Aleah.

Staff Style Aleah

Junior and Assistant Editor Aleah Milliner has always loved fashion and is a big believer in dressing up everyday. She is currently refining her style and adding more and more neutral, –black, grey, and off-white— classic pieces to her wardrobe and is in search of the perfect ankle boot for fall. When she is not in classes at the journalism school, you will most likely find her drinking cold brew at Alchemy and reading her favorite blogs.

What’s the most creative outfit you’ve come up with?

This may not be my creation really, but I wore black tights under a pair of shorts with a tee and ankle boots. I felt so confident and styled in that outfit!

Most versatile piece of clothing you have. What makes it so great?

Maybe my jeans? I love Madewell’s denim. I would say it is versatile because with a good pair of jeans you can make so many different outfits. I honestly like to wear my black Nikes with jeans and tee for a casual look, and then a cardigan and heels to dress up.

That one outfit you’ll always remember.

I look back through my old photos on my computer sometimes, and I there are so many pictures of me in bad outfits. It makes me cringe. There is this one knit hat I used to wear all the time (like in high school, ahh). It was pink with a huge flower on it. I definitely remember that, not so much in a good way.

Unique personal project?

I’m a wedding photographer! I am sort of just getting started, but I love it so much. I love creating photos. And I blog. I dream of having a popular style blog…one day.

First childhood memory of fashion?

I used to do modeling when I was younger! I did small jobs around town, but being on set and trying on so many outfits picked out for me and then being photographed in them was so fun!

What’s the biggest misconception people have about fashion/style?

Maybe that it isn’t a big deal. I don’t know if that is a misconception but I think people dress down way too often, especially on our campus. Dressing up, in my opinion, is so much better! It reminds me of the quote “Dressing well is a form of good manners.”

What is your signature style? / What is your ‘go-to’ look?

I’m changing my style up right now and trying to build my wardrobe accordingly. I love a chic, classic look. Basically, Madewell is Heaven to me so anything that they create. My go to look during fall, cause its my favorite season, is a pair of high-waisted jeans, a tank tucked in, my cream-colored cardigan, and a pair of tan booties.

The trendiest spot to be seen in Lawrence?

I love Alchemy! They have the best coffee, there are always friendly people around, and honestly a lot of fashionable people stop by. I definitely have found some inspiration there.

What trend are you obsessed with right now?

High-waisted jeans, overalls, and I love sets (matching skirt and top), although I don’t own any yet.

Why is fashion important?

It is so important to me because it is the way I express myself. I can tell others who I am through my clothes, especially when what I’m wearing might be a little “weird” to others. I especially love dressing up and wearing heels to complete a look- for some reason they give me confidence. I love the saying “look good, feel good.” It’s so true!

Staff Style: Hannah


Welcome back to another update of Staff Style, featuring our all new staff. We’re excited to share our fashion stories and style favorites with you each week! Today, meet Hannah.Staff Style Hannah 2

From the calm of Watson Library to the bustle of Wescoe Beach, senior Hannah Pierangelo and Editor in Chief endeavors to be queen of versatility and is always looking for the perfect way to pair her sneakers with any outfit. Though she’s more commonly housed in the computer labs at Stauffer-Flint working on her journalism degree, Hannah spends a few minutes in downtown Lawrence to talk about her casual style that aims to fit any situation.

What inspires your style?

I find music gets incorporated into every aspect of my life, and it inevitably shows through in my style, too. Sometimes it’s as simple as a unique graphic tee paired with colorful shorts or a skirt, sometimes it’s jewelry that’s inspired by musicians, and sometimes it’s just capturing the mood of whatever’s on my playlist at the moment.

Most versatile piece of clothing you have. What makes it so great?

I have this amazing red/orange skirt and I adore it. It has pockets! It’s loose and comfortable and so much fun to wear. I can easily dress it up with a nice top and jewelry, or I can keep it casual with a v-neck and flats.

What’s the biggest misconception people have about fashion/style?

The biggest misconception is that fashion isn’t functional. I used to think this myself! But the fact is, if you’re not comfortable in what you’re wearing, you’re doing it wrong. Good fashion combines the best of both style and functionality.

What is your signature style? / What is your ‘go-to’ look?

Skirt and sneakers. I love being loose and casual, but still getting the chance to be dressy and girly. For me, that outfit is completely versatile—I can go anywhere and do anything! Whether it’s going to dinner with friends or climbing the hill to class, I like to think I can conquer the world in a skirt and sneakers.

What trend are you obsessed with right now?

I don’t know if it’s a trend or just a style, but I’m obsessed with everything “surfer girl.” Maybe it’s because I was born in San Diego (and find myself going back each summer), but I can’t help craving beachy waves, loose tops and strappy sandals. I love that this style has merged being fashionable with being active. I feel like the goal is to  always be ready to drop everything at a moment’s notice and jump on a surfboard.

Why is fashion important?

Fashion is art that you wear. It’s the ability to express your individuality without acting or speaking.

Quick! Grab one thing from your closet right now. What is it?

A black peplum top, because it’s timeless and always classy.

Staff Style Hannah



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