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Year in Retrospect: Sunset on 2021

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This year, much like the last, was one defined by the COVID-19 pandemic. But 2021 also brought with it semblances of progress — a new presidential administration, the return of live concerts and sporting events, the creation and distribution of COVID vaccines — all of which helped fill the year with hope and light for many. With 2021 now fizzling to a close, we look back on a year plagued by environmental, social and political crises but also a year in which we found renewed strength in our connections with one another.

This issue explores the good, the bad and the fun of 2021 through major events on UC Berkeley’s campus, iconic TikToks, trends in fashion and albums emblematic of the year. It also includes honest accounts of personal and social transformations experienced this year. As the sun sets on 2021, we hope these stories will help you reflect on the whirlwind of a year we’ve lived through together and prepare for more to come.

Oozing the unconscious through butoh

Butoh looked like an outlet to honestly express and release my unwanted attachment to the past. It also looked like a fun way to be the weirdo I naturally am.

— Amanda Ayano Hayami

COVID-19 vaccines in retrospect

Infographic depicting the 6 stages of vaccine development.Since the first approvals, vaccines have seen a whirlwind of a year. Here’s a recap of both the milestones and setbacks we’ve seen this year.

— Ailun Shi

Recalling important UC Berkeley events throughout 2021

Photo of UC Berkeley campus

If you’re anything like me, you might have forgotten some things that have happened throughout the months. Here are some of the biggest stories to hit the UC Berkeley campus this year.

— Amber Soto

So we marched on: An epistle for 2021

Photo of a bootRemember through poetry how far you’ve come with the months and moments of 2021.

— Adriana Temprano

Hear the roar: 2021 in review

Illustration of people in a theatre viewing the events of the past year like a movie.Though nothing can compare to the glorious wonders that 2020 brought the world, 2021 was a keen competitor in the contest for which year in the ’20s roared the loudest.

— Alisa Steel

Reflecting on the Biden administration’s address of climate change

Photo of Steven WeissmanAmid a global pandemic, Joe Biden was elected last year as the United States’s 46th president. Biden, accompanied by his Vice President Kamala Harris, made climate change one of his top priorities.

— Defne Karabatur

Posing in bondage

The year now wanes into winter, but instead of letting the pearly crescent fall through my fingers, I’ll slip it into my pocket.

— Taila Lee

Please don’t talk to me

I felt frozen in time. The only one left standing while the world went on around me. I would always be the one on the outskirts, the one on the outside looking in.

— Kavya Gupta

Layering and abstraction: The year in fashion

Photo of a rack of jeansIn 2021, more futuristic looks such as asymmetrical shapes, sheer materials and neutral color palettes came into view. Fashion forecaster Agustina Panzoni coined the term “subversive basics” to describe this new style, which points to a larger trend toward rebellious absurdism and abstraction in clothing.

— Asha Pruitt

Photo Essay: 2021 in Photos

Photo of students walking on UC Berkeley campus

For whichever memory you treasure most, the photographers of the Daily Cal have been with us every step of the way, and we hope that this photo essay serves as a satisfying recap of the year and gives closure to some of the most momentous and inspiring events of 2021.

— The Daily Californian Photo Staff

Albums of 2021: Recovering from pandemic

Photo of albums on Spotify

These five albums, all released in 2021, offer listeners a beacon of light and hope in hard, vulnerable times — if not, at least a little fun.

— Youyou Xu

Our favorite TikTok trends of 2021

Illustration of different tiktok trends surrounding a phone that reads "2021".

It is hard to believe that 2021 is already coming to a close, and while some of us are rejoicing over the fact that it’s almost over, there are others who may still be reminiscing about earlier days. Here are our favorite TikTok trends from the past year, each one guaranteed to spread some finals and holiday cheer.

— Kristy Choung

Contact Beatrice Aronson at 


DECEMBER 09, 2021