The Commerce and Administration Student Charity Organization (CASCO) celebrated arts, comedy, and philanthropy at its 14th annual dance and fashion show at L’Astral Theatre on Nov. 22.The 1920’s-themed showcase raised funds for the Montreal Children’s Hospital Foundation in a successful night of entertaining performances and community engagement.
Alexandre St-Jean and Tuan Nguyen founded CASCO at the University of Ottawa in 1998 following the passing of their friend from leukemia. In 2000, a group of students started the McGill chapter. Since then, it has collaborated with the Management Undergraduate Society (MUS) to promote social responsibility among the student body by organizing numerous fundraising events, such as apartment crawls and bake sales throughout the year.
“We adopted [CASCO] because it raises money for local hospitals and is supported by business students in both cities,” said Jony Tabuteau, VP Events of MUS. “We have been a part of the organization for a while because it supports charities central to its cause.”
The dance and fashion show is CASCO’s most important event, with preparations that began during the summer. This year, co-chairs Bryan Lau and Casey Bryant secured L’Astral Theatre as a venue, which complemented CASCO’s cause and presentation. The smoky environment and dark wooden tables and chairs were reminiscent of the Gaslight Café in New York City and brought the theme’s vision to life. A silent auction was also open to the attendees, with notable items such as WestJet tickets and Prep 101 Packages. There were also raffle prizes to be won, including New City Gas tickets and Cory Vines gift cards. This year’s team raised a record amount of money through the auction.
“So much more goes into [an event] like this than you would think,” Bryant explained. “But it is really a great learning experience; it was so fun to recruit all the dancers and see them perform onstage.”
CASCO has traditionally opened their show with an acapella performance. This year, Effusion A Capella group started the show off with an R&B set. The energy then took a spike as the dancers made their way onstage. Rather than hosting a conventional fashion show filing down a runway, performers sported pieces from various boutiques in Montreal during their dance acts. Moreover, every single one of McGill’s dance collective was present at the event, from McGill’s new ballet collective Alegria to the popular street dance collective Urban Groove (UG).
“It’s been a very longstanding relationship [between CASCO and UG,]” said Ritika Rai, U3 Arts. “It is really nice to see how smoothly CASCO runs.”
Apart from singing and dancing performances, there was also comedic relief. McGill’s Zeta Psi fraternity, under the name Brosaica, took the stage with a outrageous choreography to songs like “Anaconda” by Nicki Minaj and “Shake it Off” by Taylor Swift. Shirts were unceremoniously discarded and roses tossed into the crowd. The audience was very enthused by the show; the cheers were loud and ongoing. After the event, there was an after-party at Club Blvd44 where guests and performers got to celebrate after a successful night.
“I think it’s phenomenal,” said CASCO emcee Fred Gou. “If it’s not for the silliness, a lot of people wouldn’t come out and support what’s really important. But it’s also a change from the usual MUS concert series; there is a lot of cultural aspect to it.”
CASCO has supported the same cause for over 10 years. In the new children’s hospital currently being built at the Glen site located directly behind the Vendôme metro station, there will be a room named after CASCO McGill.
Gabby Cao, the director of Communications of CASCO described her joy in being a part of CASCO.
“Before I joined, I didn’t know what to expect,” said Cao. “But now, after working with really cool people for a good cause, I’ve developed so many feelings for this committee.”