The Safety Dance. You’ve heard of it. And you’re probably going to show up, wearing an outfit that no self respecting individual would ever wear, even during the ’80s.
So let the cameras click — those photos will be the only reason you’ll remember your experience when you wake up on the 24th of October.
The Safety Dance is much more than just an ’80s-themed party, Dara Lind wrote in a 2008 YDN article. It is has become an institution, part of the traditional Yale experience, as much as Freshman Screw or the Harvard-Yale game. While it is a comparatively young concept — an ’80s themed dance would hardly be relevant before about 1994 — it has earned a place in the hearts of Yalies.
“It’s been a Silliman tradition for as long as anyone can remember,” Michelle Atallah, one of the students in charge of the event this year, said.
The dance, traditionally hosted by Silliman College, has found its way into campus tours and admissions information. Atallah remembered reading about the Safety Dance in the YDN’s freshman issue before she even set foot on campus.
“It was listed as one of the top 10 things to do before you graduate, so I figured it was probably one of the biggest events on campus, and it turned out to be really great,” she said.
Even Brian Feinstein, a staff writer at the Harvard Crimson, admits the Safety Dance is “the multi-platinum Madonna to Leverett’s [the Harvard’s ’80s dance] Tiffany, the one-hit wonder.” Clearly even Harvard students realize their paltry imitation of an ’80s themed dance doesn’t come close to the Yale equivalent.
“Your Online FratHouse,” CollegeOTR.com, corroborates this fact. The Safety Dance is probably the best dance put on all year and should not be missed, raved a contributing writer.
It is by far the biggest dance at Yale — “Last year we had somewhere in the vicinity of 1500+ students and guests attend. We ran out of bracelets so it was hard to keep track. And we expect record numbers again this year,” Krauss said.
The dance’s success is largely due to the support of Yale administration, particularly that of Silliman College and the student volunteers who organize the event, George Bogden, president of Silliman College Council said. Along with the other members of SAAC, Bogden works closely with the administration, particularly Master Krauss.
“I’m involved in everything from the background to working and dancing at the dance itself,” Krauss said.
The organization and staging of the dance is collaborative experience. “What I love about it is that it’s really a community-organized thing. It’s an organic process of coming together,” Bogden explained.
One of the most entertaining traditions is the outfit. The dance is rife with neon, leg warmers and big frizzy hair.
“You go to Salvation Army and pick out anything brightly colored, anything that catches your eye,” Atallah explained. “People come in big ’80s prom dresses, workout gear and everything in between.”
Students won’t be the only ones compromising their sartorial integrity — Master Krauss revealed her planned 2009 attire: “I guess you could say my costume is something akin to an ageing Madonna — poor Madonna.”
The Safety Dance has clearly been successful in past years, and not too many changes will be made to the formula for 2009’s dance.
“We’ve got it down to a science,” Krauss beamed.
Last year’s DJ will be returning, along with an array of effects — fog machines, lights, lasers and other phantasmagoria. “The special effects are really a trademark,” Atallah affirmed.
“The atmosphere, with the music and the whole light show going on — it’s on point,” Bieszard remembered, describing the Safety Dance as the most memorable school function of his Freshman year.
And what wouldn’t be memorable about 2000 people looking like frizzy-haired highlighters crammed into a dining hall and getting groovy to Michael Jackson?