I was cleaning a couple of weeks ago, doing the semi-annual “purge” of random useless stuff from the house, and among the old clothes and toys that were going to Goodwill was a pair of commemorative glasses from my college freshman-sophomore semi-formal more than 15 years ago. I’d like to say that I had held onto the glasses because I wanted to cherish the memories of that time in my life, but to be honest, I’m one of those people who is too lazy to buy new glassware so I simply hadn’t gotten rid of it earlier.
That’s not to say that retiring the glasses didn’t make me think of the night in question. Unfortunately, my adoring fans (both of them) will be disappointed to find out that the freshman sophomore semi, held April 26, 1997 with the theme of “Get Down Tonight” was not epic, grand, illicit, or even out of the ordinary, but instead was just like any other Saturday night in college.
Okay, I was wearing a jacket and tie.
It seems weird that a college SGA would throw dances, or at least that when they threw the dances, people actually would attend. College students are supposed to spend Saturday nights getting hammered on Natty Ice and throwing up into a trash receptacle outside of the library (which, of course, marks the only time in college they actually go to the library), not getting all dolled up and posing for pictures like it’s a high school homecoming dance, although everyone looks ten times worse than they did at homecoming due to college beer bloat and the fact that a dorm room doesn’t make for a very good area to primp.
On some level, attending a dance at my college kind of made sense because you really had nothing better to do, especially if you were one of those students who could not get into the bars and wanted some excuse to drink other than it was a weekend night. They were held in Reitz Arena, which is the same gym where the D-I Greyhounds played basketball … and I use the word gym because it really is a glorified gym. Sometimes the dances were held in the student center, but no matter where they were held, they always felt kind of like a high school dance, not something you’d expect in college. Oh sure, I went to a few sorority functions when I wa sdating my wife, but I can’t remember if she had a school-wide freshman-sophomore semi held in her university’s gym. Considering that The University of Virginia has about four times the population of Loyola College in Maryland, I’m probably right about that.
The music didn’t help, either. Our theme, “Get Down Tonight” came about probably because the late 1990s had a fair amount of nostalgia for both the late 1970s and 1980s going for it. Disco kind of made a comeback at that point, especially (and strangely) groups like K.C. and the Sunshine Band, whose three or four hits had become staples at weddings by then. They also weren’t hard songs to track down because they were featured heavily on the ever-popular ESPN Jock Jams albums that were released from 1995-1997, which my friends and I were all convinced were the only CDs the deejay that the SGA hired actually owned. I mean, how do you explain that the dance remix of “What’s Up?” by 4 Non Blondes was popular in 1996, 1997, 1998, and 1999?
Maybe he was counting on the fact that we were too blitzed to pay attention to the music. If you were going to a school dance, you showed up already drunk because you spent the afternoon pre-gaming in your dorm room (one night had my five of us–my roommates and I plus my girlfriend—drink an entire keg during said pregaming) and maybe danced with your friends for the better part of an hour before, much like a high school dance, things got boring, drama happened, ro someone required some hair holding. I don’t think that anyone could really say that they were monumental romantic benchmarks.
Well, I should be more specific because for all I know someone first kissed his future wife at the freshman-sophomore semi. So let’s just say that these dances were never really monumental for me. I can’t decide if that’s because I put too much pressure on myself to have an amazing memorable time, or if I’m a complete romantic putz. Or both. Probably both.
But for what it’s worth, I went, danced, got my glass at the end of the night and went on with my life, developing a roll of film that probably won’t see the light of day and shrugging my shoulders at the thought of remembering and cherishing the night for the rest of my life. Unless I’m supposed cherish it and I’m doing it wrong, because in all honesty, I had to stretch to think about what exactly went on that night. I’m pretty sure there was drinking, sex, and definitely fighting among boyfriends and girlfriends, but ultimately it was fuzzy and fleeting, lost among the randomness of a time in my life that never made much sense and probably wasn’t supposed to anyway.
You know what rings completely true to my experience? This.