Cal Poly After Dark

Take a look back at campus life in winter quarter, when the sun sets early but the activity doesn't stop until the sun comes up.

A glow artist wearing black swirls multicolored lights in a pattern
SLO GLO, a student glow-in-the-dark flow arts club, practices their art on the beach in Grover Beach.

This unusual spring quarter at Cal Poly has had us all missing campus — the places, the faces, the bustling activities that took place both inside and outside the classrooms.

Since we can’t be there now, we wanted to take a look back at the last quarter on campus: winter, when the sun goes down early but the action stays up late. Cal Poly photographer Joe Johnston captured some slices of the university’s night life — from club activities and social scenes to the Learn by Doing opportunities that happen between dusk and dawn.

The Beauty of Teamwork

Three musicans play the cello in front of an illuminated screen and sheet music
In December, the Cal Poly Symphony came together with students from the Art and Design and Liberal Arts and Engineering Studies programs to present “Teamwork.” an immersive multimedia experience at the Performing Arts Center.
A man in a red shirt conducts musicians with a baton
Music professor David Arrivée conducted the Cal Poly orchestra in a performance of Sergei Prokofiev’s ballet, “Romeo and Juliet.”
A man and woman holding violins lean against a cement block wall in the Performing Arts Center
The show was designed to showcase the range of collaboration only possible in Cal Poly’s Learn by Doing environment.
A woman sits in front of a laptop, notes and keys in the wings of the Performing Arts Center stage
The unique performance paired the music with digital visual projections created by Art and Design students under the direction of Professor Sky Bergman.


Snoozing for Research

A young man sleeps on a bed in a dimly-lit room, his face connected to several monitoring wires.

No, it’s not a student dozing off while studying. Kelly Bennion, assistant professor of psychology, recruited students to assist with a research study measuring brain activity during sleep.


Rock Around the Clock

Students climb on the university's rock climbing park at night.

At Cal Poly’s Rec Center Climbing Park, students can practice their mountaineering moves until late into the evening.


Meet Me At the Library

A woman sits on the floor with a laptop and backpack between rows of bookshelves in Cal Poly's Kennedy Library
Perhaps no place on campus lights up during the long nights of winter finals week as much as the Kennedy Library.
Two female students sit at a table with notes, waterbottles and laptops in Kennedy Library's atrium
Under normal circumstances, the library is available for study hours around the clock.
The atrium of Cal Poly's Kennedy Library lit and filled with students studying
A view from inside the library's iconic atrium, lit up with activity.


Candles in the Dark

A group of students sit around a table piled with crafting supplies, with a display of fraternity members on the wall behind them and a virtual fireplace burning in the background.

Members of the Jewish student life organization SLO Hillel bond over crafting and culture at a menorah making workshop at the Alpha Epsilon Pi house the week before Hanukkah.


Roommates That Play Together Stay Together

Four young men stand around a pool table in a dark arcade, lit from lamps above and video game cabinets in the backgroun.

Roommates Andrew Do, Bryan Tang, Dylan Kha, and Noah Fabrick play a game of pool at Mustang Lanes before the start of winter finals. The group regularly makes time to get together every week, no matter how hectic the quarter’s academic schedule gets. “Saturday night is for the boys,” they said.


That After-Sunset Glow

A young man stands on the beach tracing a pattern with a purple light on a long stick as the sun sets in the background
Using long camera exposures and tricky physical maneuvers, the members of the student arts club SLO GLO, led by president Trevor Robertson, create haunting images and memorable experiences that are best appreciated after the sun goes down.
A young woman and man stand on the beach swirling lights to create a purple and green pattern
Jason Foster, who uses the alias Argron when practicing, creates an elaborate light pattern at a group practice session on Grover Beach.
A young woman stands on the sand illuminated by an apparent ring of fire.
Ella Griego, or Siren Spins, twirls a flaming torch or "poi" to create a ring of fire in the air.


Evening Grooves

Nothing keeps the nighttime campus scene humming like a steady flow of tunes from the student DJs in the KCPR studio. Here, a veteran jockey trains a new DJ on how to keep the music going all night.


Honing Their Skills

On a January evening at the Rec Center, members of the Cal Poly Fencing Club meet to match wits and sharpen their skills.


Up Late, or Up Early?

A tractor drives into a covered cattle pen before dawn as fog rolls in near Bishop Peak
For farmers, many of the most important tasks happen after the sun goes down.
A young man stands next to a white cow with black spots held in the Cal Poly Dairy Unit
From animal care...
Three students clad in gloves and boots monitor cows and milking machinery in Cal Poly's Dairy Unit
To much-needed milking...
A young male student walks with a brown cow as the sun sets over Bishop Peak
Animal science students get a hands-on preview of their careers in the evening and pre-dawn hours at the Cal Poly Dairy.