‘ClusterFest’ a colorful mess

ColorFest rappers don’t perform after school learns they were “under the influence”


Photo courtesy of Neil Thomas

Hundreds of students covered in colors dance in Cal’s quad at ColorFest last Saturday. The event was supposed to include big name Bay Area rappers, but they were told to leave.

ColorFest is a Cal High tradition that leadership brought back for the first time in five years last Saturday evening.
It was advertised as a concert-inspired event including dancing, and live musical performances from and photo opportunities with famous Bay Area rappers SOB and Shoreline Mafia.
But a number of last minute changes, including ticket cancellations and the rappers being kicked off campus before performing because they were under the influence, cast a shadow over the otherwise vibrant event.
Just five minutes prior to the VIP guest meet and greet with the rappers, two hastily written signs outside the entrance to the event informed guests that the rappers would not be performing.
Cal Principal Demetrius Ball said the rappers were told to leave campus because they violated their contract.
“Members were under the influence,” Ball said.
Two leadership students who wished to remain anonymous said one of the performers was caught smoking in the green room of the Cal theater, violating their $50,000 contract with leadership.
“The contract that we had with the DJ very clearly stated that no drugs or alcohol will be allowed,” leadership adviser Troy Bristol said.
The breach of contract kept the rappers from performing with DJ Ben on stage. Photos of the rappers in Cal’s parking lot can be found on social media, but the performers never reached the stage in the school’s quad.
“[We] definitely learned a lot about dealing with contracts and last minute adjustments that we knew wouldn’t make people happy,” said sophomore class treasurer Clara Casserly, who helped plan the event.
The Californian reached out to SOB and Shoreline Mafia via Instagram but received no comment.
As of Monday, leadership has not been refunded the money paid to the DJ, Bristol said.
The school also had not refunded VIP students who paid $50, twice the amount of general tickets, to meet and take photos with the rappers, who were sent from campus before this could happen. All tickets included food and a white T-shirt.
“Decisions still need to be made about refunds,” Bristol said in regards to both rapper and student refunds.
ColorFest made a comeback to campus after budget complications and COVID-19 put a stop to it years prior. But problems arose less than a week before the event when Ball sent an email to the school community explaining that attendees would be limited to Cal students.
Originally tickets were available for purchase to Cal students, other high school students throughout the San Ramon Valley Unified School District, and even high school students from other districts.
The email indicated that anyone who had purchased a ticket on GoFan would need to purchase a new ticket on Cal’s webstore because those tickets were now invalid.
Ball wrote in the email that students would be refunded for the GoFan tickets at an unspecified date. Some students said they’ve received their GoFan refund.
“With other schools the biggest [issue] was security,” Ball said. “When we have off campus guests we have a waiver, and with the planning of this event it just wasn’t realistic to have that done in time.”
The two anonymous leadership students told The Californian that while the decision to exclude the other schools was for safety reasons, throughout the planning and approval process school administrators never suggested or required a waiver for any attendees.
The anonymous students said leadership offered waivers as a possible last minute solution when administrators decided to not allow students from other schools at the event, but this was rejected.
Bristol said this change was expected to negatively affect the original turnout, which proved to be true. Nevertheless, students gathered in the main quad from 7-9:30 p.m. for the event and enjoyed its many other colorful festivities.
During sunset, just before 8 p.m. roughly 90 pounds of rainbow powder was hurled in the air and all over students. Remnants of colored powder still brightened campus the week after the event.
Before ColorFest, junior Vibha Hari, a leadership student involved in the planning of the event, said this year’s ColorFest would look different compared to the past because of the emphasis on “concert vibes”.
“The DJ is bringing black lights and screens and fog machines [and it’s] completely dark [and on] a bigger scale,” Hari said.
Hari said planning for the event started in January with the help and approval of administrators along the way.
“There are a lot of things that need to be approved of by our admin team and they were very understanding and did the best they could with the safety of our students and the concerns of parents,” Casserly said after the event.
Leadership hired security guards for all points of entry and exit. One police car was also stationed at the main entrance.
ColorFest was intended to be a fun and relaxing event for Cal students to get together and rally school spirit.
“School unity has been down this year,” Hari said. “Participation has been low for rallies and Hoco, and we’re hoping to bring that back before AP testing begins.”