The expression “Mod London” provokes a blank look from most students, but this obfuscated title has been taken as the theme for one of the most elaborate parties that will be thrown by Yale students this year. The Mod stands for the theme of modernism, a la “Austin Powers.” Except not quite. This now-classic film starring Mike Myers actually notoriously ridicules the Mod “lifestyle.” The party, to be held in the Branford Dining Hall this Saturday, from 9:00 p.m. to midnight, will celebrate the Vespas and pompadours of Mod. Similar to last year’s Gatsby party, it will involve a cast of drama students in character and costume — in this case, portraying characters from Michelangelo Antonioni’s award-winning film “Blow-Up,” starring a then-young Vanessa Redgrave, about a London photographer who believes he photographed a murder. Despite the enduring appeal of casual sex, amphetamines and The Kinks, the Mod generation is largely unknown to today’s youth because the trans-Atlantic hippies of the late 1960s eclipsed the end of this era.
Chase Olivarius-McAllister ’09, who will play a planted guest, described the mod generation as it must be presented to the average, clueless American.
The mod generation “was long legs and people who know what they want, but not in a bossy way,” Olivarius-McAllister said. “They had really high principles. Middle-class Britons created a new avant-garde because Britain wasn’t the center of the world anymore.”
The theme of the party revolves around the renaming of a contemporary fashion magazine from “ShowUp” to “BlowUp,” a veiled reference to Antonioni’s film. Planted guests and faux-photographers will surround the partygoers while maintaining full British accents and playing Mod characters. Go-go girls will adorn the window seats of Branford’s dining hall, beneath posters of “ShowUp” magazine issues, covering the portraits of the Branford College masters. Candy and punch will abound, and staged photographers will take Polaroid snapshots of partygoers in a redecorated Branford common room cleverly re-titled “PinUp.” Ultimately these photos will be hung from photomobiles on display in the Branford Pit, which will be illuminated with the reddish glow of a darkroom.
Su Ching Teh ’08 and Yonah Freemark ‘08, who also coordinated last year’s Gatsby party, are serving as co-producers of “Blow Up.”
Teh’s parents went to university in the United Kingdom, and consequently the party’s theme reflects a culture that may be largely unknown to American college students. After seeing “BlowUp” while studying abroad, Teh was inspired to bring the British Mod phenomenon stateside.
“I thought it would be really cool to have a party in the vein of the mod generation,” Teh said. “Gatsby was a party about parties, this is a party about appearances.”
“We don’t just want another dining hall party,” Freemark said. “We hope to create an atmosphere that will explain London.”
So come Saturday, don your skinny ties and Levi’s, affect your most convincing accent, and pregame to The Who’s “Quadrophenia” before heading over to Branford for a dose of the best of what ’60s Britain has to offer.