Tap Night generates traditional antics

Students participating in Tap Night revelries Thursday donned strange costumes as they performed initiation activities for senior socities.
Students participating in Tap Night revelries Thursday donned strange costumes as they performed initiation activities for senior socities. Photo by Aleksandra Gjorgievska.

Juniors in masks and makeshift diapers accosted passersby Thursday night as they fulfilled initiation requirements for Yale’s senior societies.

Tap Night, one of the University’s oldest traditions, marks the induction of juniors into senior societies. It follows a week of pre-tap activities and typically involves costumed performances, superhero references and public displays of enthusiasm. This year’s event was no exception, despite increased security presence and a cautionary Monday email from Dean of Student Affairs Marichal Gentry reminding students to abide by undergraduate regulations.

Gentry emphasized in his email that blindfolding is prohibited and that incidents of hazing, underage drinking and sexual misconduct would not be tolerated.

“All of us want the tap process to be safe,” he wrote.

Still, one female student was spotted walking blindfolded down High Street led by two others.

Yale Security officers on College Street said the department increased the number of patrols on Old Campus and around the Yale Bowl in preparation for Tap Night. But their increased presence did not prevent aspiring society members from engaging in traditional tap activities.

One male student dressed as a fairy and stationed outside Beinecke Plaza spoke with a security officer around 8:30 p.m. as he waved his wand and encouraged passerby to “make a wish.” Despite the cool temperature, the student seemed comfortable in only his underwear as he wrapped a pink boa around his neck for additional warmth.

Meanwhile, another male student dressed in a cowboy hat and boots stood at the corner of Wall and College Streets singing “If I Die Young” by The Band Perry. When one confused passerby asked what he was doing, the cowboy explained that it was “for a secret society.” He then continued singing country music and encouraged onlookers who were waiting for the Yale shuttle to join him. No one responded.

A male student wearing only a makeshift diaper asked students passing on Elm Street if they could help find his mother. His mother’s whereabouts were still unknown as of press time.

Some tap activities began hours before the male fairies and singing cowboys made their appearances. One female junior interrupted students in Bass Cafe by making loud, sexually explicit noises around 6 p.m. Another group of students dressed in Batman costumes hovered at the intersection of Elm and York Streets, asking passersby whether they needed “help” crossing.

In the Branford courtyard, a group of male students in nun outfits stood in a circle and hummed in unison during the early evening. Others chose to sing popular songs, as three female students wearing Guy Fawkes masks belted Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” to a one-man audience on Elm Street, who rewarded the performance with applause.

Throughout the flurry of activity, senior society members maintained a quieter presence. One pair of students donned long, red gowns and walked silently down York Street, while others sipped Coca-Cola bottles on Old Campus through holes in their white masks.

All costumed figures declined to comment for this article.

Tap initiations first began on May 23, 1879, with “Tap Day.”


  • CharlieWalls

    The writers do an injustice to the word “traditional” in their title of this piece. Such conspicuous behavior is not really traditional at all. Review history; consider articles in your publication ~25 years ago and more. Even “pre-tap” is not that old. I would say the antics are consistent with the me generation’s style and therefore not traditional in any sense relative to the ages of the societies involved. And History is supposed to be a popular major at Yale!?

  • Pharaoh

    To the YDN staff that valiantly tried to hit me with water balloons last night…better aim will be required next year!

  • user_name


  • River_Tam

    Traditional == “I remember this happening my freshman year”.

  • DocHollidaye

    Interesting, really causes one to knock down the walls that hold them in and look beyond their limitations. Perhaps if we dressed Union Bosses in diapers and had them parade around in public like this it may make America a better place, what do you think?

  • wellpreserved

    Shocked to get on here, and not find a few delusional, silver spoon fed, Title IX activists on here complaining about something that only they seem to find insulting