“The hippies are coming,” said an older man as he walked past the Quad last Sunday afternoon.
He was referring to the activities on the grass – hula-hoops twirled, children danced and electronic music pulsated through the UC Davis campus. It was Sunday Sol, a weekly spring-time dance party that took place on the Quad up until last weekend.
Finishing up its third year, Sunday Sol is an annual teaser to the Whole Earth Festival, a three-day entertainment and education fair taking place on the Quad this Friday through Sunday. Local disc jockeys played electronic music starting the Sunday before spring quarter.
“Sunday Sol is a way to basically extend the festival season so it’s not just three days, it’s several weeks,” said Derek Downey, who sat on the grass painting signs for Whole Earth Re-usables Cooperative. “It gives the DJ community in Davis a reoccurring venue for people to get together and listen to their music.”
The event is always free of charge, made possible through DJ-volunteered time and equipment, mirroring similar shows around northern California.
“I was inspired by a crew from San Francisco called Pacific Sound who has been putting on free outdoor electronic music events for over 12 years,” said Kelly Scott, the founder of Sunday Sol.
“They always hold their events on Sunday afternoons in the spring-summer in San Francisco or Marin. Their events can draw up to 4,000 people and have a great community vibe.”
Scott said he wanted the Whole Earth Festival to showcase electronic music more than once a year.
“Exposure to electronic music is generally limited to the nightlife scene which isn’t for everyone. This is an alternative place where people can enjoy music and dancing outdoors on a sunny afternoon,” he said.
Past years have enjoyed crowds up to 250 people. Last Sunday’s event, like most others this season, had only about 50 participants.
Two of those listeners were Dominic Siino and his daughter Wren. The pair alternated between sitting on a blanket and dancing.
“There’s not really much else going on Sunday and now that I’ve got this little one, it’s a good excuse to come outside,” said Siino, a biological science major graduate, who’s been attending Sunday Sol since it started. “You’ve got a new crowd but they look like the same bunch of fun-loving kids.”
Wren, still an infant, sat smiling.
“She loves it,” Siino said. “She just loves being outside and getting her groove on.”
Maya McNiel took a different route. A regular of Whole Earth Festival since the age of 12, she currently works on the staff for the event. For her, Sunday Sol was spent preparing for this weekend.
“We are painting signs for the various different exhibits and performances spaces and surfaces at the Whole Earth Festival, which is quite a large array,” McNiel said. “A lot of them got destroyed by the rain so we get to freshen them.”
As McNiel spoke, a Chihuahua was chased by two larger dogs and a man painted yellow spun by, exemplifying the Sunday Sol/Whole Earth experience.
Though Sunday Sol is done for the season, DJs will be featured throughout Whole Earth Festival and will return next spring.
“It’s the perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon. As long as the sun is shining during the spring, I think it will be around for a long time to come,” Scott said.
BECKY PETERSON can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.