This year, the Associated Students of UNM, Lobo Spirit and Student Special Events (SSE) have partnered with University Communication and Marketing (UCAM) to bring students a modern take on the classic homecoming dance.
Silent Lights, as it’s being called, will take place Thursday in Zimmerman Plaza from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. It has the unique distinction of being the University’s first attempt at a silent disco.
Participants will each be given a set of headphones connected to a broadcasting radio transmitter that allows them to tune into three different DJs during the event.
Admission is free for UNM students with their Lobo ID, and there will be giveaways from ASUNM, as well as a light show designed by a UNM media arts student. Argy Maniatis, UCAM marketing director, said the collaboration is part of a new institutional branding initiative for UCAM.
Silent Lights represents the first step in UCAM’s mission to promote and celebrate the University through new and innovative marketing techniques, she said.
This year, UCAM has a budget of $60,000, specifically set aside for these experimental marketing pursuits, Maniatis said, with the money coming from a reserve of funds provided from the state as well as tuition.
Lobo Spirit and SSE are also contributing a portion of their yearly-allocated student fee budget to hold the event, she said.
In total, UCAM has spent around $35,000 on Silent Lights, which includes the cost of specialized equipment necessary for the light show, Maniatis said.
“This will be New Mexico’s largest projection event to date,”she said. “As such, the project requires specialized commercial equipment, which we are renting.”
Media arts student and student-employee of UCAM Nate Gutierrez is the art director for the show.
“His main interest is projector-mapping which is used to turn 3-D objects into a display surface for video projecting,” Maniatis said.
Gutierrez is also collaborating with Chris Clavio, technical operations director at Meow Wolf in Santa Fe, to bring the technical aspects of the project to life.
Lobo Spirit Executive Director Justin Cooper said he hopes the event will appeal to a wide variety of students, as the Homecoming dances in the past often had low attendance.
Lobo Spirit in particular is responsible for providing giveaways and assisting SSE with safety and security measures for the event, he said.
“The purpose of Lobo Spirit is to support students, whether it’s through athletics or through alumni events, like Homecoming,” Cooper said. “We’re like the student recruiters. We make sure our students have the best experience they can.”
1,100 headphones are going to be supplied for students to participate, and with the combined budgets of all three organizations involved, Cooper said he wants students to utilize the opportunity — which is being brought to life through their student fees — to get the most bang for their buck.
Both Cooper and Maniatis said they hope to have similar collaborations in the future, projects and events born through the central focus of providing positive and memorable experiences for students.
“So we all came together and spit-balled ideas and then Silent Lights was born,” Cooper said. “It’s really cool because it’s never happened before. We’re really excited because I think it’s going to be the highlight of Homecoming.”
Gabriela Garcia-Huff is a news reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @thegreen_gablin.