Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Party Animals

I attended many parties in my time at the 'Tute. Some were good, some were bad, some were pretty ugly. We were a segregated floor, so we had a little bit of a challenge getting a good coeducational dance party to happen. But our social chairman in my freshman year had a girlfriend (and so did a couple of the other upper-classmen who handled our social committee) and our hall tutor that year was hitched to someone from Simmons, so we had ways to draw a half-decent crowd to Fassett Lounge (that dungeon downstairs from the East Campus desk and the mailboxes) where we held our parties. Eventually they graduated, taking their mixtapes of Queen, Clapton, Montrose and 10cc with them, and our parties went progressively downhill from there. But Ed (who was hall tutor both before and after the hall tutor who was there my freshman year) had a car, so when we couldn't bring the party to us, we went to where the party was. And we had a way of bringing the party back home with us.
Everyone knew what a good party needed booze, drugs, loud music, coeds publicity. Boston has dozens of colleges in the area, and that meant usually dozens of events each weekend competing for the youthful college partygoer (MIT had its share of those who did not go to parties - they could be found living in the Student Center library or working diligently on the problem sets posted on the wall in the Math building. There were also those amazing creatures who hung out in Walker Memorial all weekend playing strategic games). Two things were necessary for a successful party to happen - the right audience had to know about it, and they had to have a way to get there. A couple of us had cars, so that part was taken care of. But to get the right audience, we had to get the word out in the right places - Wellesley, Simmons, Emmanuel, Wheelock (all women's schools) and McCormick Hall (MIT's women's dorm). That meant a road trip the weekend before to put up posters. Being a creative sort, I ended up designing some of the posters.
This particular event was one of the last parties I ever witnessed at East Campus. Within six months, I would be off to Stanford, where I learned that a grad student lives an even more reclusive existence than the typical MIT undergrad. This was the late '70s. I had yet to find out about Ladies' Nights, Million Dollar Legs Contests and mechanical bullriding, which were all things single people in Dallas did for entertainment. I was too early for mosh pits, hip-hop, grunge and all night raves. But I was just in time for music videos; many a dull Strat's Rat could have been saved by a Michael Jackson moonwalk.