Last Friday, as we walked into the grotto that has rather generously been dubbed the WestCo Café, we quickly realized that our nights had veered sharply from any of our high school prom experiences. In fact, had we not earlier been made aware of Dormal’s pre-prom theme, we might have mistaken the ostensibly upscale event for a conventional basement party. Those who have attended “formals” held by sports teams, a capella groups, and the like would recognize the scene. Replace the visibly un-mopped Fountain kitchen floor with a dusty and cavernous basement and replace the pair of kegs (the night’s entertainment) with live music and a sequence of chirpy DJ sets, and the event was no different from the archetypical Wesleyan formal.
Despite lacking any structural elements of sui generis, Dormal was unique in its own right. To accompany the faint smell of acetone that lingered somewhat hauntingly over the Café all night, at several points in the evening we watched two students race by us, with one in the basket of a shopping cart and the other manning the proverbial wheel. This type of eccentricity typified the night, which shouldn’t come as a shock to those who have attended their fair share of WestCo events.
For some party-goers, the hectic environment brought out qualities that had been previously been buried. Campbell Silverstein ’19 took to the stage at one point, making an impromptu foray into the world of vocal performance. Though it’s unclear whether his debut act will serve as a springboard to further musical opportunities, he still had very little negativity to express about the night.
“It was really sweaty,” said Silverstein. “That was probably my biggest complaint.”
Others agreed that the night was imperfect in a variety of ways, but still expressed their appreciation for it as a whole.
“It could have been improved by bringing in more students outside of Westco, if not simply to create more critical mass,” said Ben Saldich ’19, who spent much of the night on stage as frontman for the band Sneaky Boy. “But the presidents did a really good job setting everything up.”
Catalina Rojter ’19, who teams with Betty McGhee ’19 to form the musical duo DJ Grindline, had some trouble with the mechanical aspects of her set, but echoed the prevailing theme of contentment towards the evening as a whole.
“There were a lot of technical difficulties with the music, so that was annoying,” said Rojter. “But people didn’t really seem to care. Also, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, we do bar and bat mitzvahs. Tell your friends.”
The Argus spoke with multiple people who expressed some discontentment with the night’s very generic theming. As a dorm with a reputation for fostering creativity, many expected that it would take at least a slightly more experimental approach to its hallmark social event (after Zonker Harris Day and Duke Day).
Although it made attempts to stray from the typical prom, in many ways it managed to not only exemplify the high school proms that many of us have tried to forget, but also the high school proms that your parents likely tried to ditch. The hints of a former generation’s proms were induced by a variety of prom-inspired clothing that looked as though it had been stolen from the depths of a Baby Boomer’s closet. The hints of our generations were evoked by a three-way combination: the necessity to drink “the punch” prior to rolling up, the awkward mating call dance moves that were reminiscent of birds, and the number of couples who managed to hook up while dancing despite the lack of your typical prom “slow song.” (We counted 11, but there were probably more. In fairness, Sneaky Boy softened the mood and induced at least three of these with an alluring and bewitching rendition of Howie Day’s “Collide.”)
Yet, there were some aspects of Dormal that were strange, even for Westco standards. Noah Kahan ’19 left Dormal befuddled by his experience.
“The oddest part of Dormal was when this girl approaches me and confidently declares, ‘I think your uncle and my mom walk dogs together in Woodstock, N.Y.,’” said Kahan. “It was so bizarre because first, I have no clue who this person is, my uncle does not have a dog, nor does he live in Woodstock. After that moment, I collapsed in laughter because throughout the party I had been experiencing one strange moment after another.”
At every juncture in the night, our expectations were unrealized, sometimes in a negative sense and oftentimes in a positive one. Either way, party-throwers of Wesleyan who are looking to expand their entertainment repertoire: Stop by an event in the Café. You might leave confused, but at least you’ll leave with a slightly new perspective.