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By Karon Liu

Forget about the Liberals and the Conservatives — the country’s biggest showdown last weekend was between Ryerson’s journalism course union (JCU) and radio and television arts (RTA) students.

Their weapon of choice? A surly rendition of Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive.” Last Saturday night, more than 230 journalism and RTA students gathered at the Pogue Mahone pub on Bay and College streets for the first-ever RTA vs. JCU Karaoke Battle.

Under minimal lighting and Celtic chandeliers, RTA and journalism students were paired against each other; the group that got the most applause scored a point. To gain audience support, every contestant carefully chose karaoke classics such as Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” and Aretha Franklin’s “Respect,” along with other strategic karaoke mainstays. Journalism professors Joyce Smith and Don Gibb brought an arsenal of wigs, jewellery and a fake moustache for their drag rendition of “I Got You Babe,” but it wasn’t enough to score a point for the JCU.

“I hate to be a sore loser,” said Gibb, who dressed up as Cher and later won a tiara for Best Duet. “It felt nice for a few moments to have hair again.” Gibb and Smith were among a table of professors dancing and chanting “JCU!” as outnumbered journalism students tried to catch up to their competition throughout the night.

Third-year RTA student Sara Woldai and her RTA All-Stars group performed Destiny’s Child’s “Bootylicious,” complete with the essential booty shaking. “Our strategy is going out there, dancing your booty off and singing as loud as you can. But of course, having fun is the most important part,” Woldai said. “It’s just so natural for us (RTA students). Journalism people have to try, but it just so comes natural for us.”

But their moves were overshadowed by third-year broadcasting major Camille Ross and her friends who sang the Spice Girls classic “Wannabe.” “Our performance was phenomenal. It’s so much fun when you’re with your friends and had a few drinks,” said Ross, who was also celebrating her 21st birthday. “And it’s so much more fun when you’re doing it in front of your professors.”

Aside from Gibb and Smith, Journalism Chair and Associate Professor Paul Knox also belted out his favourite tune, as the stage quickly became a dance floor. “I wanted to support the journalism students and I wanted to see what this was all about. It’s great to get to know students outside of school,” said Knox, who sang The Beatles’ “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg.” “I like to sing that song when I’m asking for a bigger budget from the university.”

The money raised at the event will go towards the TARA Awards, an RTA-produced award show held in April, and the JCU’s upcoming spring semi-formal. “We had a karaoke night last year and it was really successful, so we thought how to make it even better this year,” said Kelly Todd, president of JCU and third-year broadcast major.

“I’m friends with the RTA and TARA committee and they suggested to have a competition between the RTA and the JCU, which I loved from the moment I heard it. They have a pretty deep history of competitiveness, being in the same building and all.” The event exceeded everyone’s expectations considering only three tickets were sold on the first day.

“It’s hard to produce a social event with so many clubs and committees already at Ryerson,” said Todd. “We sold about 35 tickets at the desk.” In fact, the night was so successful that the bar reached its capacity of 215 people by 11 p.m. Meghan Redwood, promotions director for TARA and a third-year RTA student, didn’t expect so many people to show up. She was at the door trying to control the small but unfortunate crowd that had to wait for people to leave in order to enter.

Among the crowd was Sephirah Love and her friend Johnny Bean, 27, who had to make other plans for the night. “Bloody right I am upset,” said Love, the 32-year-old Aussie. “I tried every technique that a woman could use. I tried to use my accent and even tried a Canadian accent.”

So where did they spend their Saturday night? “We’re going to Zanzibar instead!” RTA ended the night as the victor, nine to seven, taking the trophy: a giant plastic cupcake.

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