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Face the music

David Barrett | Wednesday, January 21, 2004

The year of our Lord 2003 ended magnificently. Months of careful planning crystallized into what many may or may not remember as the party of the year. In honor of MTV poster boy and choreographing prodigy Wade Robson, we printed pocket tees bearing his name. He made dancing cool, and we consecrated an entire evening to thank him for that. We shimmied and we shook, we laughed and we cried. We danced until delirium and her friend euphoria told us to sit down, stop shaking and accept the fact that life cannot get much better.It didn’t. Exam time was stressful. So was sitting at home over break knowing that I had forgotten to have the post office hold the paper. So were the lame end-of-year jokes – “See you in a year” – and the equally unoriginal New Year resolutions – “I’m giving up helping people, lima beans and going to class.” Nonetheless, I endured them, even offering up a few of my own. To be expected, though, they can be helpful at holiday parties as icebreakers with the uncle who can’t remember your name. As can the adult eggnog, which legality finally permitted me to partake of this season.Santa was once again very generous, sending me 50 hours cross-country from Boston to Big Sky, Montana. Armed with my brand new L.L. Bean luggage and my sole resolution to relish the remaining days of this ever-exciting collegiate experience, I traversed about 10 states in three days alongside 109 new friends in a bus with no working toilet, running water or significant leg room. We resurrected old favorites, like 20 Questions and Belittle the Bus Driver, and still had the time to play 13 hours of electronic Catchphrase. The cool kids in the back must have even played a few rounds of Capture the Flag. Most of them emerged unscathed, but one unfortunate would-be skier managed to tear his ACL somewhere outside Bismarck. Immobilized even before braving the blue squares, he brought new meaning to the week’s inaugural pub-crawl.It was a great week undeniably worth every hour I spent on the bus getting there. We savored larger-than-life burritos, six-hour beer pong tournaments with kids who like college way too much and mid-morning Blue Ribbons at the base of the mountain. By far the best moment though was the 4 a.m. dance party to which few were privy. It started off as the week’s capstone event, at which newcomers to the ski trip were to be initiated by way of the beer-ski and other hushed hazing rituals. It ended, however, with the reprisal of Flashdance in our living room to a score of ’80s recordings by a group of kids who should have ended up at Juiliard or as background dancers in “Jenny From the Block.”I take two very important lessons from my time in Montana, both of which I wish I had learned during freshman orientation. One, you shouldn’t restrict the title of “friend” to just those kids who happen to live down the hall from you in your dorm. People grow complacent in accepting as their friends only those that some computer randomly assigns them to live with and next to. Just because that nice boy who sits next to you in theology isn’t from your dorm doesn’t mean you can’t hang out with him on weekends. Pretty much all Notre Dame guys are the same insofar as they assume that all those that are not in their dorm are thereby not cool. It’s simply not true, and you are doing yourself an injustice in thinking so.Second, theme parties, and more specifically, dance and performance parties, are the missing ingredient in the elusive recipe for a great social life. My experience at the Wade Robson Project dance party, and the as-yet-unnamed 4 a.m. version, really proved that point. Perhaps a bit belatedly I have now arrived at a feasible resolution for the New Year. I resolve myself to throwing bi-weekly theme parties so that others may witness firsthand dancing’s therapeutic power in helping to cope with a long spring and an otherwise lackluster social scene here at Notre Dame. We already have a few marinating in our minds, and fully intend to bring them to fruition in weeks to come. Amongst them are Junior High Revisited and Springtime Slow-Dance, as well as a possible second installment of Wade Robson. Truly, the options are endless.With an open mind and the ability to literally think on your feet, you might have the night of your life and make a few friends in the process. It’s too easy to get bogged down in average entertainment, and, quite frankly, life is too short. Turn over that leaf, turn up the music and turn down the lights. This is the year of the theme party.

David Barrett is a senior economics and philosophy major. His column usually appears every other Tuesday. Contact him at dbarret1@nd.edu.The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.