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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UFL chapter.

For a single night, we were no longer Gators: we were students at Hollywood Arts.

The first time I saw the hit Nickelodeon show “Victorious” was last year as a freshman in college. (I know, call me a late bloomer in children’s cinema. I don’t think I even watched TV shows that weren’t animated until I was almost in the double digits. A story for another time!) A friend suggested we watch an episode, because my roommate and I had never seen it before, and we were hooked. When I heard Matt Bennett was coming to Gainesville, I knew we had to go and see the Robbie Shapiro in the flesh for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Formally known as Party 101, DJ Matt Bennett has created an 18+ event that’s marketed for the adults that watched these shows in their youth. Playing all the tunes from his glory days along with some Disney Channel classics, he announced his so-called “World Tour 2023” across the United States in January of this year. Only continue to read ahead if you’re curious about the event and don’t mind getting a few things spoiled!

They say good things come to those who wait. And boy, did we wait. Doors opened at 8:00 p.m. at Gainesville’s High Dive venue, but our Robbie Shapiro did not emerge until around 10:15 p.m.. Another DJ played his own throwback remixes for an hour beforehand as clips from Nickelodeon and Disney Channel looped behind him onscreen.

Matt Bennett ran on stage to screams after a one-minute countdown with the “Victorious” theme song announcing his imminent arrival. Every phone in the room was in the air to take a video of the beloved actor emerging from backstage. He basked in the moment as the room chanted “Robbie! Robbie!” It was crazy how we were only a few feet from someone who we’d only ever seen on a silver screen.

Bennett’s stage presence was electric. It makes sense as he was an actor back in his teenage years and could harness those same skills. He interacted with the crowd so well, whether that was grabbing the disposable cameras of the girls in front to snap a photo or forming hearts with his hands to the group all the way in the back. He would sing along with everyone to songs from programs like “High School Musical,” “Phineas and Ferb,” “Lemonade Mouth,” “Camp Rock,” and of course, “Victorious.” He even used his DJ skills to remix the Wii Menu score, another key part of many of our childhoods. 

The best part was when he made the experience unique to Gainesville. Early in the show, he said, “Class is in session, so I need you guys to teach me something. What’s the Gator Chomp?” Everyone in High Dive went ballistic as he did the chomp we know and love with his arms and announced, “Go Gators!” He used his left arm over his right arm which isn’t correct, but the intention was there, and I think everyone could make the exception for Bennett. He also ragged on Tallahassee during the night, making the crowd support him all the more as we booed our rival university.

As our designated “Sikowitz” for our time together, Matt Bennett had a prize for whoever partied the hardest that night: a coconut to take home. This was a great tactic to keep the energy high until the last song at midnight, proclaiming he had to soon “go his own way” after the famous song from “High School Musical 2” played. “I love you, bye!” were his last words to us before departing back into the shadows, only to be seen on screen for presumably the rest of our lives.

There was something so wholesome about a bunch of college students belting out lyrics to songs we grew up on as the floor shook from the hundreds of feet pulled down to earth after each jump. I highly recommend checking it out if he visits a city near you! It’s cheap compared to other concerts with headlining famous figures, so it’s best to buy them before prices go up! That mix of nostalgia and fun can’t be found anywhere else, and it will live on through my videos and the merch my friends and I purchased after the event.

At the time that these articles were written, Brooke was a second-year journalism major at the University of Florida. She is from Miami and is a triplet! Brooke enjoys reading fiction, watching Marvel and DC movies/shows, growing in her Christian faith and spending time with friends and family. She hopes to apply her passions for writing and editing in her future career.