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Mealtime serenades

Lesley Stevenson | Tuesday, April 2, 2013

South Dining Hall is well-known for a lot of things, but one of its best features often goes tragically overlooked by the typical Notre Dame gastronomist.
I’m talking, of course, about the music that sweetly serenades all who enter the hubbub of South Dining Hall. Famous for such hits as “Baby Got Back,” “Don’t Stop Believin'” and occasionally songs from “The Lion King,’ South Dining Hall’s playlist never fails to set my mood for a fulfilling eating experience.
Lest I provoke the great North versus South debate, let me be clear: As a North Quad resident and an all-too-frequent partaker of pasta stir-fry, I stand by NDH. But SDH has the advantage for music – and it’s a big advantage.
Imagine my ecstasy when, the day “Les Miserables” debuted as the SUB movie, I heard the glorious sound of Hugh Jackman and company belting “One Day More” as I prepared my usual salad. Suddenly, reaching for spinach became an epic battle of right and wrong, of justice and retribution.
Or take for example the days when House of Pain’s smash hit “Jump Around” blasts over SDH’s speakers. The vast majority of eaters begin bouncing to the beat rather than ambivalently strolling from station to station.
After observing the dynamic effects of what seemed to be a carefully crafted playlist, I decided to dig a little deeper into how SDH manages to please its wide range of patrons’ musical inclinations. The reality is pretty simple. Notre Dame Food Services general manager Marc Poklinkowski informed me the lineup comes from whatever XM radio station the managers on duty happen to choose that day.
“We generally like to keep it upbeat and music most students can relate to,” Poklinkowski said.
Poklinkowski told me SDH’s music selection garners compliments from patrons, particularly when the stations “80’s on 8” and “The Pulse” are chosen.
I’m not alone in my love for SDH music. Freshmen Jay LaFave, James Elliot and I once spent a good part of lunch discussing our favorite SDH hits.
I’m also not the only one with a particular dining hall jam. Freshman Paige Affinito lit up when I asked her about her music preferences in SDH.
“‘Linger,’ by the Cranberries,” Affinito gushed. “Every time it comes on, I feel so much better.”
From this highly informal sampling of three of my friends, I will confidently state most of the Notre Dame student body greatly appreciates SDH’s efforts to make the lunch and dinner rush that much more enjoyable. At least the four of us stand by Poklinkowski and South Dining Hall. Encore, sir. Encore.