Lauren Worsham ’05 sat in her Durfee Hall common room at 9:45 last night, laced up her tennis shoes, put her hair in a ponytail and waited.

She waited for Shades.

“They’re who I want to be with so totally the most,” Worsham said. “It’s hard, you’re afraid you won’t be friends with [members of other groups] afterwards. But I’m in awe of Shades.”

Worsham’s experience last night was like that of many other freshmen who rushed a cappella groups and hoped to be tapped. Although the Singing Group Council instituted new rules to tone down Tap Night, Old Campus was alive last night as scores of singers rushed from dorm to dorm and freshmen cheered on their classmates.

“Tap Night has changed,” Dean of Student Affairs Betty Trachtenberg said. “It’s substantially — I hope — substantially changed.”

The Singing Group Council initiated new policies this year to make Tap Night more orderly and less rowdy than in past years.

In one change, to avoid crowding, only one singing group could be in an entryway at a time. Groups participated in a lottery to determine who would get to go to which entryway first, and got an order for where they could go. While they were tapping, one member of the group had to stay outside the entryway to signify to other groups that the entryway was occupied.

“Initially we began to reassess the procedure for Tap Night as a result of tragedy of Sept. 11 and it evolved into way of reevaluating process of tap night as a whole,” New Blue Business Manager Alice Goldman ’04 said. “I think it’s wonderful we were able to look at it and change the things for the better.”

At10 p.m., the scene on Old Campus was a calm one, as all of the singing group members gathered inside the High Street gate, and Whim ‘n’ Rhythm and the Whiffenpoofs performed for the group of curious students that had assembled. But when the Singing Group Council members gave the signal, Old Campus was electrified as a cappella members went running.

As soon as the singing groups started running, yellow-shirted members of Mixed Company sped to Durfee for their first-choice, Worsham.

“Lauren! Lauren!” they chanted outside, up the stairs of Durfee, and into her second-floor common room as one member carried a cup of mysterious non-alcoholic brew.

She told them maybe.

“They’re the most awesome people on the face of the planet,” Worsham said. “It’s so hard.”

The phone rings, and Worsham’s suitemate Christina Sanchez ’05 yelled, “Shades called and they’re coming!”

“I’m gonna cry,” Worsham said.

“Lauren! Lauren!”

“Is that Shades?” Worsham asks.

No, it’s New Blue. With sparkles on their faces and ribbons in their hair, they too offered Worsham a drink from the cup.

Worsham gasped as she saw that one of her friends was already tapped and came to her room with New Blue.

She told them, too, maybe.

“Lauren! Lauren!”

The yelling was from Shades. Members, each wearing a different colored tee-shirt, sang and danced for Worsham.

“Yes? No? Maybe?” a Shades member asked Worsham.

“Yes!” Worsham yelled, and she slipped a blue Shades shirt over her head and started running.

As Worsham was being tapped by Shades, other a cappella hopefuls waited anxiously in their common rooms. Outside, members of well-established groups frantically ran through Old Campus — some bearing cell phones and others grasping clipboards on which they kept track of their taps.

Amidst this display of Yale tradition, some less-traditional groups tried to bring some humor to the annual festivities.

“The Men of J.E.” did their ceremonious run across Old Campus, chanting “JE sucks!” And a new singing group emerged in front of Lawrance Hall, calling themselves “The Chapetones.” The Chapetones’ philosophy is that singing should not be restricted to people who can sing.

The group, whose founding members are all from Ezra Stiles College, sang the theme song from 1980s sit-com “Growing Pains,” which starred Kirk Cameron and Alan Thicke. Members said performing popular television theme songs allowed them to cut down on rehearsal time because most of the members already knew the words.

“We’ve been invited to the Bush compound in Kennebunkport,” Chapetone Sarah Cowan ’02 joked. “We’re looking forward to it. We love our country.”

In years past, Tap Night has had the reputation of being particularly rowdy — students have played such pranks as throwing urine-filled water balloons. But Stiles Dean Susan Rieger said she saw nothing wrong last night.

“I’m proud of the Stilesians tonight and I hope everyone got tapped who wanted to be,” Rieger said. “However, there is life after tap and life without tap.”

[ydn-legacy-photo-inline id=”20338″ ]