“You’re bad in bed anyway!” screamed a would-be bride as she ran out of Commons in her wedding dress Thursday. While her escort — a policewoman clad in a skin-tight cat suit — followed close behind, the groom stood there laughing beside a reverend donning silk pajamas.
As this couple’s public wedding spat played out in the middle of the dining hall, another couple lounged on top of a table to the side, quietly feeding each other pancakes and bacon. Spectators pulled out cell phones and crowded around their blanket, snapping photos and egging them on.
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This kind of revelry is common throughout Tap Night, the annual Yale tradition that took place Thursday, with as much comedy as mystery. There are currently about 30 societies that tap rising Yale seniors.
Secret societies are more of an open secret, enough so that the rosters of members of secret societies are published at the end of each academic year. But members still observe a modicum of secrecy surrounding their activities. If one asks a society tap in the junior class to explain their strange behavior, the answer will either be “no” or silence.
Tap Night is actually a week-long process. Wednesday saw a screaming junior girl pretending to give birth on a table in Commons, for instance, among several induction tasks carried out across campus.
More formal societies, such as Skull and Bones, Scroll and Key and Wolf’s Head, traditionally abstain from public humiliation, say current juniors who were tapped for each of the three and requested anonymity in keeping with society rules.
Some juniors stood blindfolded around various campus locations before being led into cars that whisked them away to off-campus locations. Other societies were not so discreet.
For the societies that tapped on campus, the Women’s Table was a popular gathering place and a hotbed of activity Thursday evening. The fountain was operating for the first time this year Thursday, preventing societies from pulling any pranks on the table. But the water did not prevent them from squealing, cackling and reciting lines in Latin at the popular meeting point. At one point, before leading a dance-off by the table, a masked senior yelled, “We’re going to get you crunk tonight!”
Some societies wore long black capes and dramatic white masks as they led juniors on long walks around Yale. Others eschewed such sobriety, opting instead for more outlandish costumes. One group had their taps dress up as characters from children’s movies and paraded them in front of Sterling Memorial Library in a conga line.
More than one society embraced the superhero look. The recently reestablished Desmos society spent the day dressed as Power Rangers before meeting in the Saybrook Lyceum Room. While dressed as Batman, the Myth and Sword society campaigned for the Caped Crusader’s cause, wearing signs advocating for Batman as Yale College Council president and shouting “New Haven needs a hero!” An unidentified society traipsed across campus dressed like the Ninja Turtles.