Around 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, I was slow-dancing with Shakira, arms around her shoulder because my hands couldn’t reach her waist, her head resting somewhere in that gray area that’s not quite my stomach, not quite my chest. She whispered to me about how I had made her get over her fear of kitchens, and how she was going to buy more thongs. She told me that she loved me, even though she wasn’t my mother. At least I think that’s what she said; I don’t really understand Spanish. So I sighed, “Oh, Shakira.”
Then, out of nowhere, I was rudely awoken by the sounds of war drums and chants. As that short Latin vixen faded away from me forever, my first thought was that my roommate had decided to listen to his new Rancid CD, “Rancid Goes to Africa.” I got up, felt around for a blunt object with which to kill him, but found Swayze, as I like to call my roommate, sound asleep with a charming strand of drool rolling from his open mouth.
From far away, I heard the Tartars cry. Something about contracts? I could have sworn I heard the name Levin being used. Little did I know that Yale’s hit new musical sensation was giving a live and interactive concert all across campus. The 34 or 35 Strikers were playing their fall hit, “Levin by the Toe.”
So I put my hemp necklace on, threw on my tie-dyed shirt (a steal at Old Glory for $30), slipped into my favorite linen pants that my brother got me on his trip to India, grabbed the five-year-old remnants of my Birkies, made sure my acid tabs were still in my pocket, and ran down to the show.
I caught the end of that song, with its catchy references to the classic childhood game, “Eenie, Meanie, Minie, Moe/ We have Levin by the toe,” the pans hitting hard on down beats. From there, they faded into a lull, with a few talking, lighting up cigarettes — I guess they were going for the casual feel. I like that. Then they broke out with my personal favorite.
The conductor started blowing a whistle, and then, all in unison, they sang, “We want contracts, We want contracts, Hey Hey, Right now,” to the tune of “Shananana.” At moments, the dissonances created between the lead tenor — who I am told is actually an electrician right here at Yale — and the rest of the choir added a poignancy paralleled only by a Mozart mass.
By the time they hit us with their big song, “We Are The Unions,” I was in tears. Maybe it was the acid, but the circling around in the middle of the road, the constant chanting and celebration, the getting together and embracing what Yale is really about — complaining about money — just hit me hard on a spiritual level. I felt enlightened. I felt like my whole world had just been opened by the musical genius of, “Do The Locomotion” with union-adapted lyrics. Unfortunately I didn’t really understand those lyrics, as most singers were eating doughnuts at that point.
I also loved the way the group interacted with the audience. Sometimes they would wrap around buildings and sing so that you would have to do the limbo to get in. That was fun. Then there was this time when a guy said, “If this is such an inconvenience, imagine what a real problem would be.” Then he laughed and said, “I love this place,” in this great fake sarcastic voice. I love this place too, man.
It’s not very often that we get to have such a great group set up and agree to play for a while. Once every 10 years, to be more precise. So take advantage of it while you can. Dance, chant, sing, hit pans, love, cry. Give it all you can, because once these people stop, the resulting increase in your tuition might as well have payed for something.
Alexander Cote will be hosting The Yale Show: Yale TV’s premiere late-night television show, starting Oct. 1.