Covered in war paint and with bullhorns blaring, members of Yale’s a cappella groups tapped their freshman classes last night in a ceremony that drew hundreds of nervous freshman and curious onlookers.
The annual tap night capped a three-week-long rushing process in which hopeful freshman auditioned for the University’s fabled singing groups.
As group members jostled for position behind High Street Gate, Whim ‘n Rhythm and the Whiffenpoofs, Yale’s senior singing groups, opened the night with a series of songs before helping to countdown to the beginning of the festivities.
For Erika Shumate ’06, a member of Proof of the Pudding and the person responsible for making sure her group reached their desired freshman first, tap night was about more than singing.
“I’ve been through an intense practice so far and I’ve been hurdling fences to warm up,” Shumate said. “It’s war and we need to use war tactics.”
Eager freshmen were not the only people admiring the mayhem. Rita Braver, a correspondent for the show “Sunday Morning” on CBS, was on hand to film tap night for a story about the nation’s a cappella scene.
“My daughter did a cappella at Brown and it was then that I saw how huge a cappella was,” Braver said. “Yale is a part of the long tradition of a cappella.”
Braver said she and her crew were initially denied access to Old Campus for filming. After consultation with Dean of Student Affairs Betty Trachtenberg, a compromise was reached. The CBS crew was allowed to film the performances by the Whiffenpoofs and Whim ‘n Rhythm but had to leave soon after.
“When the cameras are on they cause some people to act differently,” Trachtenberg said. “We were afraid that they would incite people. This was all about safety.”
Braver said she expected the story to air sometime next year.
For Henry Park ’07, a newly tapped member of Red Hot and Blue, the night was a success.
“I don’t know how to explain what I’m feeling, it’s so great,” Park said. “I would never have imagined doing a cappella until Yale and now I’m off to go party. Party on.”
Group members sprinted across campus, weaving to avoid stunned spectators and upperclassmen who sprayed the singers with water guns filled with milk. As the night wore on, a student dressed as Jesus and carrying a cross trudged across Old Campus.
“The Pundits are doing all kinds of crazy things tonight,” Trachtenberg said.
David McIntosh ’07, a newly tapped member of the Spizzwinks(?), said tap night was worth the hours of rush meals and auditions.
“It’s so refreshing to talk to people who sing because they love it,” McIntosh said. “In high school choir was just a class.”