Tonight is a rare occasion: I’m going out. Okay, maybe not rare, but I actually want to go out as opposed to being coerced by friends, who simply want to dance and need a partner/wing woman. It’s currently 8 p.m., though, so that’s enough time to change my mind. This time of night is also known as the “lull” of weekend nights when it’s too early to start the preparations for a night of fun (i.e. a night of nachos), but it’s also kind of late for any real work to be done. The fact that I’m voluntarily deciding to put on pants tonight is pretty radical, since I’m usually pretty lazy, and the charm of going out has slowly dissipated over time for me. Let me explain.
As a first-year, you are inherently “thirsty for the social D,” especially as a first-year during First Days. During that wonderful time known as “Camp Williams,” entry parties are thrown and a solid amount of the first-year class, somehow, finds its way into crowded common rooms. I found myself walking into a Willy common room in September with some entrymates and tried to start up conversations with others. Despite the awkwardness that plagues these gatherings (note: new people, not very extroverted), one feeling permeates the building: you’re in college. You get to meet new people. You could meet your new best friend as you bond over something along the lines of, say, height (I made a friend during one of these gatherings because we are both 5’2”) and how totally cute her tank top is. But I digress; the real thrill of these functions is the fact that you’re introduced to a mix of new people. It’s very simple and acceptable to approach another person and introduce yourself and figure out what classes you’re taking. So it goes.
However, I’ve noticed that the introductions become less and less socially acceptable. When you’re at a party later on in the year, it’s still possible to meet new first-years, but the enthusiasm is not as prevalent as before. Suddenly, you’re going out to meet up with pre-existing friends, conversing with only them, and standing at the other side of the basement looking at your fingernails as if they’re suddenly the most interesting things in the world. This is mostly done when trying to avoid eye contact, but maybe that’s just me. I guess the reason for the lack of frequent introductions is the fact that people have already found their respective groups of friends and feel comfortable with them. It’s wonderful when you have a group of people that you’re comfortable with, but meeting people is still nice. It’s not that I’m unhappy with the people I’m close with already. It’s just always interesting to see new faces and interact with new people with different perspectives. Unfortunately, the environments that we frequent on weekends aren’t necessarily conducive to new relationships.
Another “gathering” that has lost its charm for me is the dance party. These are the type where you hang out with friends beforehand, trying to find the right outfit to wear but then realizing that this is Williams and not a hot dance club. And then you’re finally dressed and excited to hit the dance floor, but the you realize it’s only 10 p.m. To be completely honest, I would love to be in bed at this time, but for some reason, this time of night is deemed “too early” to leave. You have to wait until around 11:30 p.m. Even then, sometimes the dance floor is vacant and people start showing up 10 to 15 minutes later. The time span of this runs until around 12 or 1 a.m., after which people begin to filter out and hit up snack bar. Awesome, glad you’re having fun, but why do we have to wait until later? Why does it only last an hour or so? And though I’m always down for pizza, why do we always end up at snack bar, signaling the end of the night? If I want to dance I want to dance, but if I have this urge earlier in the night, why isn’t it socially acceptable to go early? Another problem I have with these events and most typical weekend nights is that the only real time you’re meeting people is if there’s a DFMO. And that’s not really meeting people. You can’t have conversations on the dance floor unless you want to be shouting in someone’s ear.
The two things that have sort of made putting real pants on and walking out of my entry difficult are the ridiculousness of waiting until later to get the night started and the fact that interactions and being friendly are no longer normal now that it’s not First Days. If you’re ever feeling like me, feel free to just come up and say hi. I won’t think it’s creepy. Maybe. But in all seriousness, if we all just decided to show up to dances earlier, we would be able move to the rhythm of the music for more than just an hour and actually make the 2 a.m. cutoff for Lee. Think about it: more dancing, pancakes for all and potentially new friends. I’ll put on pants for that.
Maria Guzman ’17 is from Greenwich, Conn. She lives in Sage Hall.