Higherground gets a makeover


Sorry ‘Highergrind’ fans, Higherground is getting a revamp and a brand new name.

The UW-Eau Claire student-run dance club and event space had its last event in its original location, above the Crest Wellness Center, this past May. Renovations are underway in the Hilltop Recreation Center for the Lookout, a brand new, upgraded dance club.

“I’ve never been to Higherground, but I’m guessing moving the place will attract a lot more students,” said junior Barry Bakunowicz, a transfer student from Madison.  “A lot more people go to Hilltop and it sounds like there will be more room for different events.”

The idea for the move has been in the rough plans for a while without a timetable, said Joseph Haferman, coordinator of student organizations and late night activities. The idea surfaced in early spring when Jason Anderson, event production coordinator in the Event Services office, approached Haferman.

“Jason came to me and mentioned that Hilltop would be getting a sound renovation over the summer,” Haferman said. “We talked a bit and decided that with the renovations planned, it may be a good time to move the Higherground space over as well.”

The directors of the University Centers and the University Recreation and Sports Facilities created a committee to discuss plans for the move. In mid-April, a plan was approved by the two directors and renovations followed.

Funding for the project is provided by University Centers and the Recreation and Sports Facilities, Haferman said. The renovation includes the move of Higherground, updates to ceiling tiles in the Bowling and Billiards Center the main first floor hallway and upgrades to the outdoor space.

The new dance space will likely host similar events, such as swing dancing and drag shows, but will also be available for other events the smaller, less-equipped Higherground could not host. Haferman wants to find ways to branch out and run activities and programs that haven’t been done in the space before.

“The layout will be more accommodating for bands, comedians, magicians or whatever we come up with, so our student managers will be looking into some of those things,”
Haferman said.

Students who have used the old facility before are looking forward to the larger, more spacious area in hilltop.

“I think it’ll be nice to have more space,” said senior Cory Bristol, a music education major who enjoys the swing dancing events hosted by Higherground. “We would always run into other dancers while dancing at the old place.”

The Lookout, the new student run dance club and event space will have a larger dance floor, a stage, a moveable DJ booth and lighting trusses, and the outdoor space will have a new fence, a fire pit and outdoor speakers.

“The most important reason for the move is that Hilltop has much more student traffic than Crest Wellness Center,” Haferman said. “This move allows University Centers and Recreation and Sport Facilities to work more closely together and will likely be mutually beneficial as we increase utilization of both of our spaces.”

The old Higherground location will be turned over to the Recreation and Sports Facilities. The Lookout, Haferman said, is tentatively scheduled to open at the end of October.

“I wish I had an idea for a new nickname,” Bristol said, “but I think the upperclassmen will always call it, ‘Highergrind’ and only the freshman will call it ‘The Lookout.’”