Safety Dance is dead. Long live the ’80s. We dug its grave, we lowered its casket, we poured dirt (and whiskey) all over its decomposing carcass. We even erected a tombstone, one as ephemeral as the event itself. Sure, the cancellation of Safety Dance is technically our fault. We hammered the nails in that coffin with our stomping dance shoes. Now it’s up to us to mourn, to remember the good, the bad, the schwasty: the dance-floor makeouts, the trips to the hospitals, the hangovers. Our WEEKENDers are up to that task. So grab these two pages and hold onto them with deep grief — the decade that never died just did, and it’s time to face the music.
A TOXIC PREDESTINATION
// BY ISAAC STANLEY-BECKER
Maybe ignorance really is bliss. Especially when knowing means drinking yourself into an 80’s-themed stupor.
You might counter: isn’t ignorance what causes people to make risky decisions? Shouldn’t we engage one another about the risks of binge drinking? Isn’t discussion necessarily better than silence? Well, yes — but we often do unintended harm in not choosing our words carefully. Consider this scenario:
You’re a freshman. You’ve been at Yale for just over a month. You’ve survived your first paper or test, found something edible to eat in the dining hall, and even met some people you like in the process. But when Thursday slowly creeps to Friday and the weekend looms, you’re faced with a whole new set of challenges and uncertainties. Beyond the specifics — frat or athletic house, that off-campus thing on Dwight Street or Toad’s — you’re faced with larger questions. Should I drink? How much? And what are the alternatives? You’re sure they exist, but the maxim rings in your ear: “All roads lead to Toad’s.”
And that’s the context for the email you get from your Froco the day before Safety that warns of a culture of heavy drinking tied to the dance. Hours later, a second email, this one from the Silliman Master and Dean, describes an alarming “campus culture that surrounds this particular event.” Safety Dance, they warn, has been “an excuse for campus-wide binge drinking of risky and dangerous proportions.”
So what do you do?
It’s no wonder that many freshmen felt perversely compelled to test boundaries, to up the ante that night. Drinking meant participating in what had been sensationalized as nothing short of a Yale tradition, an alluring rite of passage. We want to be part of something; missing out is the cardinal fear. As sad as it may be, this applies to drinking rituals as much as it does to classes and extracurriculars.
So what do we do? I do not advocate keeping freshmen in the dark about the problems of substance abuse that persist on our campus. Quite the opposite. But discussions of drinking should not happen via proliferating email chains. Yale will only begin to address its drinking culture once it provokes us to see that being drunk is not the imperative of weekend play.
BOOTS MADE FOR DANCIN’, LESSONS LEARNED WORTH KEEPING
// BY TAO TAO HOLMES
It was all due to the boots. Tall, shinyred platform boots, a glorious $3 at Salvation Army. I spotted them there on the Thursday before Safety Dance, an event that was quickly shaping up in my mind to be nothing short of Legen — waitforit — Dary.
The night drew near and I searched for anything shiny and spandex I could find, pulled out my “New Haven: Friendly With Benefits” T-shirt and found a YouTube video demonstrating how to cut a shirt so it looked “retro” or whatever. My new red boots waited impatiently in the corner of my closet-size bedroom.
Saturday night, I suited up. The shirt, the silver spandies, the headband — and finally — the boots. The world suddenly shrank below me, my suitemates, all below 5 foot 4, scurrying around the tops of my boots in pre-dance feverishness like inhabitants of Lilliput. I had added a full five inches, making me just about 6 feet tall. I may as well have been wearing stilts. And I realized, even before getting the Intro Micro lesson on sunk costs, that stilts and alcohol seemed a perilous combination. And so, I went to Safety Dance … sober.
My memories of Safety Dance (which are loud and clear, emphasizing the fact that I did it — let’s be honest here — wrong), consist of Tao, the awkward freshman Ent-woman, clomping about a sea of horny hobbits in teetotal despondence. Yale is not known for the height of its student body, and my shiny platform boots allowed me a 360-degree view over the scene at hand, which, admittedly, was not wanting for entertainment.
Now, it looks as though Safety Dance, which I always saw as a pivotal rite of passage for freshman n00bs of all shapes, sizes and levels of Dubra saturation, is being abandoned, just like that sobering pair of $3 boots. That is a damn pity. I only abandoned those boots after they taught me my lesson (interpret that as you will). By getting rid of Safety, we are depriving all future freshmen of lessons of their own, whatever they inevitably turn out to be. We are depriving them of silver spandex. Now there’s a loss.
SAFE + GLORIOUS + RESPONSIBLE
// BY AARON GERTLER
My freshman year, I wasn’t exactly into dancing, or the “mainstream” side of ‘80s music (I was a prideful listener of Sirius XM First Wave, the hip “alternative” “new wave” “station” with only a few million or so listeners in the obscure neighborhood of The Entire Planet). But I’m always a sucker for spectacle, so that October night found me over/underdressed in a modest orange polo, yearning to hear snatches of New Order amidst the pulsing waves of Madonna. No luck. I stumbled upon some new friends of the sober variety (back in those heady days when all friends were new) and proceeded to boogie.
None of us lived in Old Campus, so we were unfamiliar with the full extent of our young peers’ drunken escapades — the wobbling and lurching (ironic moves for such a rhythmic decade) took a while to get old. Then, my friends spotted an acquaintance, looking lost and very small in a crowd of basketball players. The boldest freshman sashayed over.
“[Name withheld]! How’s it going? Hey, you know something? I like tacos. What do I like?,” my friend asked.
“Tacos?,” [name withheld] retorted.
“Good! Remember that!”
A few minutes later, we checked in again. The boy didn’t remember what a taco was, and so we formed a flying wedge to guide him from the Neon Sea onto Beinecke Plaza’s safer shores. Rarely had I been prouder of myself.
in summary, I think Silliman College will regret their decision of cancelling Safety Dance. Where else are responsible young people like Freshman Aaron going to learn to apply what we learn in Camp Yale alcohol workshops? Global Grounds?
WITH OR WITHOUT YOU
// BY KAROLINE KSIAZEK
We thought it was bad juju when the Master of Silliman cheered at the sight of us. In the moment just before we walked past the doorways of Commons, the thought occurred to me, “What if we’re the only ones here?”
It was 10:02 on that Saturday night and we were, in fact, the only ones there. I had somewhere else I needed to be in less than an hour, but the thought of missing Safety Dance was too much. Rather than letting me skip the occasion, my boyfriend joined me in following Master Krauss’ suggestion to arrive “maybe even at 10 p.m. when the dance begins.”
For 25 minutes, everything called attention to the fact that we were the only ones there. The light and sound technicians casually walked around us, tampering with equipment, and the DJ didn’t hesitate to use the microphone to communicate with his crew. The bright blue and green lights fell not on heads, but on long stretches of empty floor. The “crowd cam” simply showed the silhouette of our lone dancing figures, displaying our aloneness back to us
We found ourselves alternating between ludicrous waltzes that no one could judge, and moments of stillness where we marveled at our unique position. The music was horrible — they had clearly saved the Michael Jackson for the larger crowd. It wasn’t until we were leaving that others started to trickle in. As the party grew, the DJ encouraged a conga line, transforming the vibe into something out of a Sweet 16.
Hearing about the dance’s cancellation the next morning was odd, but I didn’t feel like I’d missed out on my last Safety Dance. Rather, for half an hour, the best outfits and best dance moves in the room were ours. For that half-hour, we were Safety Dance.
ODE TO MY FAVORITE SHORTS
// BY KATE BYRON
I will miss Safety Dance for exactly one reason. That night, in addition to the “12 Nights of College Halloween,” are the only two annual occasions when I can wear my pink, sparkly, spandex hot shorts and have it be remotely appropriate. In all seriousness though, I’ve pretty much worn the same damn thing every time I’ve gone to the dance: those shorts, a neon sports bra and some type of “1980s” shirt, which is usually just another random neon item.
I’m willing to admit that the shorts are anachronistic to the theme. My usual strategy is just to drink enough so that I think I look appropriate (that’s also my strategy for enjoying ’80s music.) This year I didn’t even make it to the dance, instead going to a non-themed party outfitted in my traditional garb.
So what am I going to do next fall in the awkward void between Camp Yale and Halloween when my fly-as-fuck shiny shorts are begging to be worn? I’m thinking a “Tour de Franzia” suite party. Because if they can be ’80s workout shorts, they can totally be biker shorts too, right?
SUSPENDING MY INHIBITIONS
// BY FREDDIE RAMOS
I thought I might get lucky when I bought my red suspenders. With my turquoise V-neck, yellow cuffed short shorts and spiked-up hair, the only thing keeping me from being Safety Dance’s most eligible homosexual were the little metal clasps that took 20 minutes and two suitemates to fasten to my waist.
Straps secured, I walked alone to Commons, sober and shivering, hoping to meet the man of my dreams. Instead, I found a group of friends swaying in the mosh pit under the unblinking stare of a plainclothes cop. But after an hour of shuffling and counting the number of guys wearing American flag tank tops with gold lamé running shorts — at least four — I stopped hoping for one of them to dance with me
Just then I felt someone against me. I turned around. I got my wish. He was wearing pink shorts, but I was still into it. We started to dance, then we started to hug, then we started to grind. For my second try at same-sex dancing, things were going pretty well. Then things got intense. Too intense. So I pulled away and we did the whole I’m-dancing- in-front-of-you-butnot- with-you thing until he found somebody else more willing.
I ended up walking home with my schwasted friends. So maybe I’m not the most eligible gay guy out there. But the next time I get lucky, I’ll suspend my inhibitions instead of my short shorts.
A FRESHMAN RENEGADE
// BY HAYLEY BYRNES
Swedish espresso bars, copious amounts of cheese and a tip-loving Mariachi band in the subway. That was my Safety Dance experience. Neon-less and spandex-less, I found myself dreading the fabled event. So two days before Zero Hour, I decided to take the self-righteous path and go on a New York day trip. On Saturday morning I rolled myself out of bed with the promise of coffee and inevitable big-city shenanigans. Grand Central was in sight.
Once there, we wandered. (I don’t have the courage to do it all alone.) We walked and mocked and talked. By 11:00 p.m., we found ourselves visiting that café of “You’ve Got Mail” fame. The darling world of Meg Ryan rom-coms serves some kick-ass pumpkin pie.
A night of Safety Dance could not be complete without some (sightings of) drunken revelry. That came on the train home, where a group of Irishmen — uh, drunk Irishmen — shouted about Guinness (GUY-ness) and Danny, the missing member of their coterie.
Stumbling into my dorm at dawn, I found my floor-mate still in her bright yellow garb and smeared eye shadow. Nothing about my day had been that safe either — and no neon was necessary.