Despite the chilly weather last Saturday, groups of students dressed all in white – some even daring to wear summery clothes – could be seen walking around campus, smiling and chatting excitedly. Shivering in my own white attire, I followed the crowds to Hoxsey Street, where the much-talked about block party was in full swing.
The party, dubbed Sensation White Hoxsey, was organized Matt Ratajczak ’13 and Katherine Belk ’13, both of whom live in off-campus housing on Hoxsey Street, and Lizzy Kildahl ’14, whose summer internship at Reclaim Childhood (RC) in Jordan will be the recipient of profits. “Every RC Summer Camp volunteer pledges to raise $1000 for each week they are working at the camp. I’ll be at the camp for four weeks, so I’ve pledged to raise $4000 for this summer,” Kildahl said. “When I heard [Belk and Ratajczak’s] idea, I thought we could collaborate and turn the block party into something that raises money and awareness for a great cause.”
Organizing the party took substantially more work than just talking to the residents of Hoxsey Street: “Matt [Ratajczak] talked to a policeman and got in touch with the people who work at [the Williamstown] town hall,” Belk said. “The three of us went to the town hall meeting and proposed our idea.” After receiving a resounding yes from the leaders of the town hall, Belk, Ratajczak, Kildahl and their friends in 66, 71 and 63 began raising awareness for the event via a Facebook event and by tabling in Paresky. Belk also made sure to warn their eighbors about the noise.
The party was scheduled for Saturday afternoon and shut down Hoxsey Street to through traffic for four hours (from 4 p.m.-8 p.m.). In order to attend the event, partygoers had to buy a custom wristband for ten dollars. Belk and crew spent all week leading up to the event advertising the wristbands in Paresky. It was also hard not to notice the promo video posted on the group’s Facebook page that had an “Ephelia goes to Sensation White Hoxsey theme.” The wristbands, which it soon seemed like the entire school was wearing, were used as tickets on the day of for getting into the block party.
The money paid by attendees, however, did not end as profit for the organizers; Sensation White Hoxsey was chiefly a means of raising money for a charity. “Lizzy Kildahl had to raise money for this NGO she’s going to work for in Jordan, so we thought, ‘Oh, why don’t we combine the two?’” Belk said.
The program to which the money was donated is called Reclaim Childhood, a program that, according to the Sensation White event Facebook page, “offers a sports summer camp that seeks to empower at-risk Arab women in Jordan.” The organization’s main goal is to instill confidence, hope and ambition in Arab girls and women through team sports. The organization was, in fact, founded by two alumni of the College, Katherine Krieg ’08 and Anouk Dey ’09, in 2008.
According to Belk, the party was definitely a success, succeeding in both raising money for Reclaim Childhood as well as putting Ephs in good spirits throughout the afternoon. Since the party lasted a couple hours, various groups of students were continuously cycling up and down Hoxsey. Techno music, rap, hip hop and oldies blasted from the porch of 63 Hoxsey as student DJs kept the mood of the event lively from start to finish. Because the street was closed, students were able to walk, mingle and dance in the street without the worry of cars. There were couches set up outside for sitting and various rooms in the houses were open to the public, which was fortunate given the chilly weather and the need for bathrooms.
The temperature, however, did not stop students from dressing to the theme; everyone wore white, even if it meant just a t-shirt and shorts. “It was a little cold out, but it was a lot of fun!” Betsy Hart ’14 said. “There were a lot of people there, the music was good – [Sensation White Hoxsey] was a good start to the spring.”
Hart also said that there was a large turnout. The fact that the party’s revenue went directly to charity contributed to the high attendance numbers. “Having the money go to a good cause definitely made it easier for me to decide to go,” Hart said. “It’s not just you paying to get into a party. It makes going more worth it.”
“The event raised over $2000 for Reclaim Childhood, but the final wristband count/ number of attendees is not yet known,” Kildahl reported.
The theme was derived from a similar rave that occurs in Europe every year. “A lot of us were abroad in Europe in the fall and spring of our junior year and there’s a rave called Sensation White that a lot of Americans go to for some reason,” Belk explained. “Everyone that goes there has to wear white. DJs wear white, there are white decorations. We were sticking to that theme and we wanted to repeat it.”
The rave in Europe is not traditionally tied to charity work, which put a nice twist on the Williams version of Sensation White, since students were partying not only
for the sake of having a good time but also to help a good cause. As to whether or not Sensation White Hoxsey will be back next year, Belk has high hopes: “I would like for it to happen again. Matt [Ratajczak] and I are both seniors so we wouldn’t be able to host it, but I think everyone had a ton of fun, so whoever’s living on Hoxsey Street next year might try and do it.”