Campus Traditions: Highs and Lows

“Hendrix traditions”—any person with a semblance of a connection to our college has their own perspective on what our shared traditions represent. Beyond the standard fare of dance parties, like Ghost Roast and SoCo 54, the college has other significant traditions as well. My perspective on our college’s social and cultural institutions has shifted over the years, but there are a few that stand out to me for their own reasons.

My nerdy take, a perspective which has been framed through my Religious Studies coursework, is that our traditions serve as rituals which give the Hendrix College experience a sense of collective meaning and fulfillment. Nonetheless, as any student would tell you, some of these traditions fall flat while others continue to shine brightly year-after-year. Here’s my own take on a handful of them:

Most Underrated—Foam Party

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           Foam party is arguably the most divisive campus tradition. Some students, including myself, find the prospect of jumping around the brick pit coated in foam a carefree, liberating experience. Others (party-poopers, in my opinion) think it sounds like a germ-infested nightmare. Foam is a special kind of dance party since it features an added element of uncertainty. The entire night you’re thinking: When is that foam cannon next going to barrage me with soap and suds? For me, dancing edge of fear and adrenaline is (dangerously) fun.

The Love/Hate Relationship—Caf Birthday Song

A part of me dies a little bit each time I am forced to listen to the Hendrix birthday song. Hear me out: The song is well-intentioned, but I can’t help but feel like caf birthday clappers are really not that excited for each birthday. Perhaps we cheer for the birthday song out of a fear of ostracization instead of any heartfelt attachment towards Hendrix birthdays. I’m pretty sure the more I do sing the birthday song, the more my heart grows cold. (But maybe you should ask me again on January 20th, when I’m as happy as I can be about my special day, how I feel about the birthday song.)

Most Creative—Word Garden

The semi-monthly student reading series is now entering its 10th year of existence. Word Garden nights feature three to four students reading original fiction, creative non-fiction, or poetry. Before the featured students read their work, a friend will give them a warm, heartfelt introduction to the crowd. The gushy vibes, hot tea, and poetic atmosphere make Word Garden intimate and memorable, especially during the winter months. The pressure is on for everyone, though, during intermission when the Word Garden game is played. Audience members are given a prompt and asked to respond on a scrap piece of paper. One favorite example: If your favorite author wrote their Tinder profile, what would their bio say? Baked treats are the standard prize (and 10 Hogwarts points for anyone who follows through with the Tinder prompt in real life).

Best Dancing—SoCo 54Copy of IMG_4915_edited.jpg

All that glitters is gold at SoCo 54, the Social Committee’s famous 70’s themed dance party. Worsham’s transformation from arguably sad to to lit dance and disco hall deserves applause every year. Worsham during SoCo 54 pays creative homage to its namesake—the famous New York City nightclub, Studio 54. In the 70s, the club’s event planner, Robert Isabell, allegedly dumped four tons of glitter on Studio 54’s floor. Challenge accepted, Hendrix?

Most Room for Improvement—Serenades  

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Serenades is a mid-week warm-up event to Shirttails—Hendrix’s beloved dance competition. The concept of serenades has always troubled me. Men’s dorms on the south side of campus walk over to the north side and “serenade” the women with songs outside. It’s also expected for the guys to put on a gendered performance by dancing hand-in-hand with women waiting outside of their dorm. Although Shirttails itself is premised on gender division, Serenades reinforces specific heterosexual relationships and gender-roles in a more egregious display of masculine-fueled attempts to “woo” women. With all this in mind, “room for improvement” might even be a stretch for Serenades.      

Best Multicultural Tradition—Multicultural Dance Showcase IMG_0113_edited

The Multicultural Dance Showcase is an annual event dedicated to showcasing original choreographed performances by a variety of Hendrix’s multicultural organizations. Every year, multicultural groups put together creative dance routines that reflect specific cultures and forms of dance. In years past, routines have thematically ranged from K-Pop, Bollywood, African dance styles, hip-hop, and other international styles. With the growing number of multicultural organizations, the dance showcase is likely to get larger and even more diverse in years to come. The event typically takes place every April. To get an earlier start on multicultural events, make sure to also check out the annual Multicultural Block Party in late October.

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