“Bop” – so few letters, so much mayhem. At Williams we are accustomed (unless things have changed radically since September and I don’t know about it, which, of course, could be the case) to the row house party. Well, at Oxford, bops are essentially the same thing, complete with alcohol, suggestive dancing and Madonna’s “Like a Prayer.” The main differences, I suppose, come as differences of degree.
Let’s start with alcohol. At Row houses, we have kegs strategically placed in Perry’s “Goat Room,” Wood’s kitchen or the side room of Spencer. At Oxford, the bops are at the college pubs. So while this means you have to pay for every drink, you have a great selection. (By the way, they have never heard of Beast in England.) And, thanks to the British government subsidizing alcohol (yeah, socialism), the drinks are relatively inexpensive. Add to this the fact that the drinking age is 18, so everyone is drinking legally.
The pub itself is about half the size of Baxter Lounge. Now you are starting to get the picture: small space, lots of alcohol, lots of people, loud music. Nine times out of 10, the direct result of these factors is suggestive dancing. There’s a lot of it. Allow me to get autobiographical for a second; I’m a dorky kid from Long Island who listens to Pavement records and translates ancient Greek. Jiggy I ain’t. That said, I’m jiggier than all of Britian. The British kids have less rhythm than Tipper Gore.
The alcohol certainly doesn’t do much to add to their coordination. In fact, if there is a particular “move” that the British students have mastered, it’s the ability to hold their drink in their right hand, their cigarette in the other, stand on top of each other, lifting their left foot while their right foot is on the floor and vice versa, while making sure that they don’t slip on the alcohol soaked floor (some, obviously, aren’t very good at holding their drink in their right hand). And this, my friends, is considered attractive. I might be exaggerating a bit here, but not much.
What music, you ask, causes such gyrations? At better points in the bop, as I noted above, Madonna’s “Like a Prayer” played. Instantly, memories of 2 a.m. freshman year dance parties in William D came to mind. But the kids, let me tell you, don’t love Madonna; they love Abba. That’s right, Abba. “Dancing Queen,” “Waterloo,” “Mamma Mia:” these songs are beginning to make me hate Scandinavia. In all fairness, Abba is not the only group you hear at a bop. My American pride swells when Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and the Backstreet Boys blast from the stereo.
I have neglected one key bop ingredient: the theme. Last term, Exeter had a bop whose theme was “Doctors and Nurses.” They also had a James Bond theme one night – guys in tuxes, girls in short skirts and go-go boots. The theme this week had a traffic light flavor. Each person was supposed to wear red, yellow or green depending on how available you are. (Some might say “desperate,” but “available” is nicer to say. I’m staying away from normative claims in this column.) I’m quite sure red was the dominant color, although there were more than a few yellows and even a couple of greens. I only have grey tee-shirts and khaki chinos. The theme extended to far than attire, though. There were red, yellow and green cocktails, which had a lot of alcohol in them and most of the lighting was red, yellow or green.
So while I don’t know what the next bop theme will be I’m sure that it will be loud, smoky and filled with sweaty students. I’m also sure I’ll be there. Whatever the theme, though, I’ll stick to the grey tee-shirt and khakis.