At this year’s Harvard-Yale weekend, the Yale Student Activites Committee wanted to organize a light-hearted social event that would provide a forum for interaction between Yale and Harvard students. So they hired a DJ, rented a fog machine, and made sure there were plenty of kinky cages.
When Elis and Cantabs gathered Nov. 21 in Commons, there was little polite conversation or exchange of business cards. The YSAC-organized dance party, “Fusion,” drew 1,400 Yale and Harvard students looking to momentarily forget the next day’s hostilities in order to bump and grind their Ivy League behinds.
The dance was the first big event organized by the new Yale Student Activities Committee, an agency of the Yale College Council designed to organize traditional YCC-sponsored campus events like the Winter Ball as well as innovate new social events such as “Fusion.”
The party, the first jointly sponsored Yale-Harvard dance, was a mixed venture financially. The Yale College Council, all 12 Yale residential colleges and the Harvard Undergraduate Council funded the event, although YSAC representative and event co-chair Tre Borden ’06 said the majority of funding and all the organizational effort rested in the hands of YSAC. Harvard’s student government donated one-sixth of the financial support, Borden said.
YCC President Elliott Mogul ’05 called the party “amazingly successful.”
“We were all really surprised,” he said.
Borden said at first YSAC wanted to organize a series of club-themed dance parties in several residential colleges’ dining halls, but due to concerns about vandalism and damage, the committee was forced to move the party to Commons.
Turning Commons into a convincing club atmosphere was a challenge, Borden said.
“It’s hard to transform a place like that into a club,” he said. “No one really wants to go to a dance in Commons if it just looks like a dining hall.”
YSAC hired a professional DJ, enlisted the help of students from the Yale Dramat to design appropriate lighting and placed strategic go-go cages around the room in which lewd or lusty students could find themselves happily entrapped. The name “Fusion” arose because the dance was a blend of club and lounge, Harvard and Yale, Borden said. Tickets were free ahead of time and two dollars at the door.
Ultimately, Borden said, the event was a success and a good first project for YSAC.
“It was such a success, we want to make it bi-annual — a tradition that’s passed on,” he said. “We thought it was an awesome way to introduce [YSAC] to the Yale community.”
Mogul said juniors and seniors on the YCC began discussing the possibility of a joint Harvard-Yale dance party as a result of their experiences in 2001, the last time Yale hosted The Game. Mogul said many parties ended earlier than expected that year, and residential colleges sustained heavy vandalism and damage. Alcohol ran out early, parties were shut down and students were left with little to do on one of the biggest nights of the year.
The YCC hoped a large, joint dance party would give both Harvard and Yale students another, longer-lasting option for the night before The Game, as well as take some of the strain off of the residential colleges.
“We knew a lot of college masters did not want to have parties in the colleges,” Mogul said. “We wanted to make sure something fun was available.”
The Battle of the Bands has until now been the only event traditionally co-sponsored by Yale and Harvard during the weekend of The Game.
On a night when the parties were many and the alcohol was abundant, “Fusion” faced a lot of competition. The fraternity Sigma Alpha Epsilon hosted a party at New Haven club Image that attracted over 800 people.
Alexander Tilton ’06, an SAE brother, said the fraternity was not particularly worried about the YCC-sponsored dance drawing students away from Image because of the large number of students on campus during Harvard-Yale Weekend. The fraternity also did not worry because “Fusion” was held in Commons — a particularly undesirable venue, Tilton said.
While some students never made it to Commons because of the myriad of other parties, other students said they stayed away on purpose.
Zoe Palitz ’05 said she did not go to “Fusion” because of her experience at Harvard’s large party last year.
“I went to the big thing thrown by Harvard last year. It was okay,” Palitz said. “I’m not sure if it was all that much fun. A good idea, but I’m not sure it worked out all that well.”
Will Chou ’06 went to “Fusion” with his Harvard friend, Jeff Amlin. Amlin said he left after a few minutes but came back later with more Harvard friends and had a good time at the dance.
Chou considered dancing in the cages, but decided the friends with him at the time were not cage-companion material.
“I was just with friends, no one I would want to get down and dirty with,” Chou said.