Beware wild animals: Queer Bash ’98

This Saturday started out pretty much like any other; I got up around noon, had lunch with a friend, and even pretended to do a little work while I was waiting for a free dryer.

By 8:30 p.m., however, I found myself in a bathroom somewhere in Prospect, with two friends of mine, in the process of painting our bodies. Hardly your typical preparation for a Saturday evening, but then the Queer Bash is hardly your typical party.

Hosted and organized by the BGLTU, the Queer Bash is widely considered to be one of, if not THE best party on campus; certainly it’s one of the most talked about. Whether you love it or hate it, it’s almost impossible to ignore the collection of outlandish costumes that move across campus to congregate around Currier as 10:00 approaches: men in dresses, women in miniskirts, and members of both genders in practically nothing at all were just a few of the sights.

Acknowledging the party’s reputation for wildness, the theme of this year’s Bash was “Welcome to the Jungle: Where the Wild Things Are,” and for many, the celebration more than lived up to its name. “I thought the Queer Bash was the best party all year,” said first-year David Golden. “As far as I’m concerned, that’s what night-life on campus should be. People got wild, wacky, creative or whatnot, but most importantly had a pretty cool time getting all decked out. It was really a scene as well as a party.” Alexis Wruble, ’99, agreed: “I thought the party went really well. I thought the costumes were fantastic, and I think everybody who came had a really great time.”

Wruble, who was responsible for organizing the party, also noted that setup for the event took about seven and a half hours; an effort that certainly paid off in the end. Laser light, animal print balloons, and a strategically placed strobe or two helped set the atmosphere, but by far the most prominent feature of the decor was a sixteen square-foot wooden cage into which partygoers could climb to show off some of their inner animal, or perhaps to escape briefly from some of the animals on the dance floor.

DJ Manny Otero, ’99, did a tremendous job at getting the crowd moving and keeping it moving, and more than a few members of the crowd responded by REmoving an item of clothing or two; for many of the Bash’s devotees, appropriate attire means the less, the merrier.

In the end, people go to the Queer Bash for a number of reasons. Some go for the costumes, some for the dancing, and some for. . . well, maybe it’s best if I don’t mention some of the things that people go for.

Me, I go for a little of each of the above, but also because as a member of the Williams queer community, the Bash is one of the few places on campus where I feel totally safe and free to be myself. I think, in the end, that it’s that same freedom that draws just about everybody who comes to the Queer Bash, whether queer or straight: the freedom to act without being judged, and to party without prejudice. The freedom to like who you want to like, whether male or female, and the freedom to let the world know it. As first-year Suzanne Wall put it, “The women looked great. They brought out the animal in me.”