For those of you who don’t know, my senior year of high school I was a runner-up in my school’s Mr. Norwell Pageant, an all-male beauty pageant that doubled as a senior class fundraiser. Mostly, I wanted an excuse to wear a tuxedo speedo in front of the whole school but, unfortunately, participation required a talent. As the uncoordinated swimmer/mathlete that I was, I decided dancing would give me the best shot at winning. Regrettably, my efforts fell short and I only cracked the top three.
To this day, the feeling of failure I experienced on that fateful night in 2012 eats away at me, so when I saw the advertising for the Neighborhood Leadership Team’s Spirit Week event “Sync or Swim,” I knew this was my chance to redeem myself. I had planned to perform Robyn’s “Call Your Girlfriend” with my entrymate Catherine Egan ’16, but unfortunately she had to back out when volleyball qualified for NCAAs, and so I found myself the week of the event without a partner or a song. Luckily, I was struck with inspiration late Monday night in Schow when Adele’s “Hello” came on my Spotify and I began to envision the most amazing lip-sync performance ever.
Of course, I was still without a partner, but after talking to Sarah Cooperman ’17 about my vision, she was on board. Though she’s better known for actually singing, I was confident her performing experience would come in handy. Preparation was minimal, consisting of watching various contemporary dance videos on YouTube and a 45-minute extra-sweaty rehearsal in the basement of Prospect, but by Thursday afternoon we were ready save for one thing: We realized we needed a second performance!
Cooperman quickly texted her co-Junior Advisor David Hourin ’17 and was able to pull together a duet to “Breaking Free” from High School Musical, which she assured me, they had been preparing basically all year. I must admit I was a little worried about my part in the performance, as I’ve never watched High School Musical and knew none of the lyrics, but Cooperman assured me that they’d be able to fit me in somehow.
Fast-forward to Thursday night. I rushed over to Goodrich Hall from a TA session. I entered the room, palms sweating, knees weak, arms heavy. I had only a few minutes to compose myself before finding out that we were the first act. Most of the performance was a blur, though I do have a vivid memory of making eye contact with one of the security guards as I performed in nothing but compression shorts.
After a few quick notes from the judges (who clearly did not appreciate our contemporary take), Cooperman and I settled in with Hourin to watch the rest of the performances. This actually turned out to be the most hilarious part of the entire event. I had no idea that watching people lip sync could be so entertaining, but after some impressive and hilarious performances by my fellow students I was definitely glad that I had taken the time to not only perform but to stay and watch. My personal favorite was probably a duet to Justin Bieber’s “Baby,” mostly because of extremely skilled Usher lip-syncing in the beginning of the song.
Eventually it was Cooperman’s and my turn to perform again, this time with Hourin joining us. While I still didn’t know any of the words to the song, I have to say I held it down on the air piano before joining in for the final (unchoreographed) dance number. Unfortunately, despite all our hard work we were only able to snag third place, a cruel reminder of my failure at Mr. Norwell three and a half years ago.
Despite the disappointment, I had an unreasonable amount of fun preparing for and performing in Sync or Swim. For those unlucky Ephs who weren’t present, you definitely missed a good show, so make sure you show up next year.