Coffee House Returns (Without the Coffee)

by, Gabriella DePinho, Editor-In-Chief

Sanctus Artem’s popular monthly event, “Coffee House”, returned in-person for an evening of music and camaraderie on the quadrangle, without any coffee in sight.

On Monday, Sept. 28, following proper COVID-19 protocols, all performers and attendees wore masks, sat at least six feet apart and did not share food or drink, as is customary for the event. At the peak of the event, the crowd was 45-large, one of the largest audiences the event has seen, according to one of the hosts.

“We were a little scared,” Chantal Flores, a fifth-year civil engineering student and co-host of Coffee House said. “We did a quad Coffee House once in the past and it was great but the difference this time was wearing masks, being socially distanced.” 

However, the safely distanced crowd also pleased the hosts.

“We got a bigger crowd than we were expecting and a lot of people signed up,” Joseph Corrao, a junior civil engineering student and Coffee House co-host said. 

Flores added, “It being a really nice night tonight really did something for us.” 

Corrao and Flores were joined by a new event co-host, Luis Chavez, a sophomore sound studies major, who was excited to be part of the process. 

“It was really fun,” Chavez said. “I found out over the summer and I got to meet Joe and Chantal a little more. I’m very familiar with the music department because of my major and my involvement in the performing arts but it was really fun. Getting the stuff together was a bit of learning here and there but it’s fun and once you get the stuff together, things just happen.” 

The evening kicked off with Flores and Chavez performing a rendition of “Shallow” from the hit 2018 film, “A Star is Born.” Just a few minutes later, Chavez joined first-time performer freshman George Callaghan for a rendition of John Legend’s “All of Me.” Callaghan has been playing the piano for eight and a half years.

“It was my first time having someone sing with me in front of people,” he said. “I’m not comfortable playing in front of people that well but I want to get out of my shell. I wanted to pick the [song] that I knew best so even if I had a little brain lapse or something, I would still remember the whole thing.” 

After performing together, Chavez and Callaghan took the opportunity to hang out and enjoy the next performers together.

Junior Joseph DiOrio performed a handful of songs on his blue guitar, kicking off with Nirvana and getting the crowd involved with his rendition of Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive.” The Oscar Tangos, a trio led by senior civil engineering major Cristina Catana, performed a small set that got audience members dancing, singing along and laughing. Catana is the only current Manhattan College student in the trio, but once the group heard that Coffee House was coming back, they knew they had to attend. 

“We love being here, we love being Jaspers so we knew we had to go for another round,” Catana said. 

The members of The Oscar Tangos met as members of Manhattan College’s Air Force ROTC Detachment 560 and were inspired by Dos Gringos, a folk rock band that was started by two Air Force F-16 pilots, who they pay homage to with each performance. This time, it was with Dos Gringos’ song “Jeremiah Weed.” 

“Normally we do a couple more [Dos Gringos songs] but we’ve kind of expanded our repertoire,” she said. 

The event, which began at 8 p.m. saw the last of the crowd disperse around 10 p.m., which meant that for two hours, the quadrangle was full of crooners, guitarists and students just happy to be out of their room with something to do. 

“It’s a great way to meet new people or start socializing through music,” Chavez said. “You’re sitting near people and you start talking and you meet people, I know I did.” 

No matter if a student performed one song, multiple songs or were just there to have a good time listening, the hosts want students to know that Coffee House is for everyone. 

“The arts, they’re still happening, no matter what,” Flores said. “We’re still here, we’re still doing it.” 

With the success of the outdoor Coffee House, which Sanctus Artem had only attempted once before, the hosts intend to do it again in October. Regardless of whether Coffee House can be on the quadrangle or will have to be held virtually, Coffee House will be around all semester for students to enjoy. 

“We’ll definitely have one next month,” Flores said. “But November we’ll have to figure out.”