by Alanna Carlson
With the house lights down, all eyes were on the stage. Audience members clutched an assortment of mugs, filled with root beer floats and picked from the odd collection of free mugs provided by ASWU for the event. The voices of competitors resonated through the room.
From every place in the room, performers commanded the audience’s full attention, audience members’ eyes rarely straying from the stage.
From talent to raffles and auctions to free mugs and root beer floats, Pirate Idol — the final competition between past Unplugged winners — had a little bit of everything. With Pirate Idol immediately followed by Dub Club, Thursday night in the Hixson Union Building stayed busy and upbeat.
Unplugged is an ASWU-sponsored event that gives Whitworth students a chance to bravely flaunt their talents.
“Just the general idea behind it is to give the students the ability to show what they have in any fashion,” Special Events coordinator Raleigh Addington said. “I mean some of these people that we’ve had at Unplugged, some would say they’re not that talented. But they still have the courage and the desire to just share what they have.”
Eleven past Unplugged winners went head-to-head Thursday night in a fight to be the Whitworth’s top talent of the year. Most Unplugged events are held in the Multipurpose Room in the HUB. This time, it was held in the dining hall to accommodate a larger crowd. Even so, the event drew such a crowd that there was standing-room only.
The talented performers at Pirate Idol had the audience alternating between silent awe and thunderous cheering. All the talent showcased Thursday night was either singing or spoken-word poetry. All the poets performed original pieces, as did a couple of the vocalists. Pirate Idol winner, freshman Emily Moline performed covers of two popular music songs: Toxic by Britney Spears and Lay Me Down by Sam Smith.
At past Unplugged events, there have been other types of acts.
“We had a juggler, we had a cappella, we’ve had acoustic guitar and a violinist,” Addington said.
At every Unplugged this year, first and second place winners were awarded $100 and $50 cash prizes, respectively. At Pirate Idol, the stakes were higher, with cash prizes of $200, $100 and $50 for first, second and third places, respectively.
Unplugged and Pirate Idol have consistently been popular with the student body. Held monthly, the typical Unplugged has anywhere from 60 to 80 attendees, Addington said.
“I think that the first couple Unplugged are great intros, especially for the freshmen that have maybe never seen something like this,” Addington said. “There’s always someone that will say, ‘My talent’s not very special and I saw the last Unplugged and it was really great,’ and I always tell them as long as you have a talent and want to show it, your talent is special. And I think that’s what really gets people coming back. They see how much fun people have on the stage, everyone’s cheering off the stage. The mugs are [also] an incentive. People really do swarm the mugs. We’ve spent a lot of money going to thrift stores and getting mugs and it just seems to be a fun thing for people to bond over.”