Spring has arrived, and with it the usual activities: frisbeein’, tannin’, grillin’ and campus golfin’ have taken over the campus grounds, along with a general atmosphere of relaxation and awesome chill time. This year, the warm weather has brought with it more than just the seasonal outdoor events: it’s also brought back old-fashioned Amherst house parties. Has anyone else especially enjoyed the last few weeks? I definitely have. Besides finishing my thesis (which makes any social event all that much sweeter), I’ve also gotten the feeling that this semester’s parties have been extra, well, fun. And I think I know why: student maximization of our college’s social resources, aka awesome parties in the old frat houses. While the majority of this year featured all-too-frequent bookings of new Hitchcock and Seelye for large parties, students have come to realize that events there are workable, fine, decent, but really nothing special. The past few weeks, however, witnessed a shift in social activity and, for the first time since, like, 2008, the old frat houses - Garman, Marsh, Newport - have become the center of weekend life.
March 25: the Zu’s Full Moon bash, featuring DJ Walker and lots of indoor-outdoor, upstairs-downstairs, bathroom-hallway, Kyle Ramsay-Farris Hassan mingling, rages until 5am and causes three reported pregnancy scares.
Mar(s)h 26: Marsh, having recovered from Hurricane Grant-Knight, throws the best belated Mardi-Gras celebration this side of Spring Break. Staircase mingling, ballroom boogying and bathroom bantering are always signs of a great party, and this was among the greatest.
April 9: A suite in Pond hosts a party in Garman, taking advantage of one of the College’s most underrated social venues, and hilarity ensues.
April 23: Having recovered from Hurricane Mardi-Gras, Marsh throws another rager. The ballroom featured a crowded dance-party; the foyer was filled with excited minglers; the patio outside was packed with partygoers looking to take a break from the craziness of the interior.
Why have these parties been so great? Well, for starters, they were generally well-organized, well-publicized and well-attended. But, more importantly, the houses in which they occurred - with their fantastic party spaces - are designed for sociability: for groups of students to exist as a community and to throw great parties that the whole campus community can enjoy. The spaces themselves, even more so than the people throwing the parties, deserve credit for fostering a warm, interactive social environment. Simply put, people like partying in places where they feel comfortable and the old houses represent such places.
Thus far, my “Lost Amherst” column has been pretty negative, and for good reason - but the point of this article is to show that, although much has changed in the past few years, plenty remains. At Amherst, we’re lucky to still have some of the best social spaces that you can find at any college in the country. And for those of you underclassmen out there, get this: there’s more to come in the fall with the re-opening of Plimpton and Tyler. Marsh, Garman and the Zu have stepped it up in the past few weeks, reawakening the social potential of our campus. Parties don’t need to all be sweaty and uncomfortable, as the old houses have taught us. When the space is designed with student interaction in mind, sociability comes naturally.