By Elizabeth Svokos
It was, literally, a party with no pants.
Crowded in a dimly lit basement, guys were dressed in their boxers while the girls showed off their best Victoria’s Secret panties. It was the No-Pants Party last weekend at Haverford College.
Parties are synonymous with college life. They’re in the movies, popular TV shows, and anyone who has been to college can tell you the parties on the weekend are what got them through the week. But at Haverford College, parties have reached a new level.
Toga parties are so yesterday. Theme parties are the new trend. With themes ranging from Club Miami, to the Prom Party, to the No-Pants Party, students never know what crazy outfit they’ll be sporting that weekend.
Coming up with themes for parties is definitely not a difficult task. Sophomores Laura Gilroy and Ellen Freeman hosted the Prom Party where people came with dates wearing bow ties, dress shoes, real prom dresses and even posed in front of the camera for the classic, awkward prom date picture. Why?
“My mom always said I would never wear my prom dress again,” Freeman said, “And we just wanted an excuse to wear our dresses again.”
This simple idea sparked a night of dancing to old music and drinking punch, just like a high school prom. James House, where the event was held, is the art house on campus. To get the venue, the girls had to be a little sneaky.
“To use James House you had to be doing something artistic, so we lied and told them we were using it to make a music video for our band,” said Gilroy. “Is this off the record?”
But it was all worth it to enjoy that night and act a little crazy.
“It gives you a chance to be someone who’s not yourself,” Gilroy says. “Like I was pretending to be a virgin on Prom night and my friend Krishnan was Goth, and my friend Eve was named Prom Queen.”
And as for prom king: “Oh,” Freeman said, “Her girlfriend, Grace.”
Gilroy and Freeman are not new to theme parties. Last year, they hosted a Harry Potter themed party with a live Irish music band. It was invitation only by hand-made invites.
“It was a little more elitist with the invitations,” says Freeman, “but we just didn’t want people we didn’t know showing up.”
A fear for theme party planners, besides that people won’t dress up, is also uninvited guests arriving, or people wreaking havoc on the night of the party.
“The annoying thing is when people I don’t even know show up,” says Gilroy. “I feel like the party is my baby, and I don’t want strangers touching my baby.”
Gilroy and Freeman raise money for these events by asking for a small donation from friends, but they usually end up paying a majority from their own pockets.
“It’s all right though,” says Freeman, “I feel like we have to give back to the communities and we do that with theme parties, so we get to have fun too.” Freeman went all-out for the Harry Potter party and dressed as Hagrid, the giant with a huge beard and burly voice, and even spoke with a British accent the whole night.
Club Miami was another theme party hosted in the cold month of December. The inspiration was simple. Host Jake Zoghlin, a sophomore, explains, “Everyone missed the beach so we wanted to entice people with things they couldn’t have.”
It was hosted in a dorm hallway, and people were encouraged to “dress trashy,” as if going to a club in Miami. Zoghlin asked each resident on the floor for a donation and if they’d be willing to host. No one refused.
“It was more interesting and more enticing than a regular party,” Zoghlin said. “Plus, everyone likes the beach.”
And the set up was simple. The local dollar store supplied Zoghlin with everything he needed to turn the dorm into a tacky Miami club.
One thing that Zoghlin did not plan on was the police showing up after a girl passed out from excessive drinking.
“She drank entirely too much before she even got to the party,” Zoghlin said. “She should have taken care of herself.” The police came and broke the party up and the girl ended up all right, but Zoghlin decided to take a rest from theme parties for a while after that experience.
Instead of missing the beach or paying homage to Harry Potter, the inspiration for the Pirate Party held last year was pretty specific. Host Josh Mikutis, 20, was born on February 29th on a leap year, so it was technically his 5th birthday celebration.
“From the ages 2-5, I would only wear pirate clothes,” he said, “So the fact that I was turning five presented me with an opportunity to have a Pirate Party.”
The hall was filled with pirate-like décor and the guests were prompted to dress like Mikutis’s mother because “she’s a generally awesome person.”
“Overall,” said junior Christian Rice who attended the Pirate party, “people didn’t really dress to impress.”
Well, dressing up like someone’s mom may be asking a little much.
Some theme parties have become campus-wide traditions. Instead of creating fun and interesting themes whenever the inspiration occurs, the infamous lacrosse apartment ‘Apartment 14′ has a history of epic theme parties.
Apartment 14 houses the men’s lacrosse team and their friends at Haverford College and they are known for annually hosting the White Party, the Jell-O Wrestling Party, the Beach Party, The Rastafari Party, the Holiday Party, and just added the No-Pants party this year.
The White Party’s theme is to dress entirely in white. Yes, there are bouncers and No you will not be let in if you are not wearing white. The Jell-O Wrestling party is self-explanatory and all attendees should be advised that their clothes will get messy, no matter if you are wrestling or in the audience. The Beach Party requires real sand and people willing to dress as if they were on a real beach. The Rastafari Party came about because of a group vacation to sunny Jamaica. The Holiday Party is held during the Christmas and Hanukah season and people are required to wear those heinous holiday sweaters that your grandmother thinks are just adorable. Everyone has one. For the No-Pants party, people just take their pants off.
These theme party traditions started with the class of ’08. After vacationing in Jamaica, the Apartment 14 guys decided to bring a little of Jamaica to chilly Pennsylvania.
Graduate Charlie Rubin, 22, was witness and host to the beginnings of these theme parties, staring with the Rastafari Party.
“We just got back from Jamaica and had all this cool stuff, like t-shirts and art, and decided to make a party out of it,” Rubin said.
The first Beach Party was hosted in the apartment and truly set the ultimate standard. Real sand, paid for by the hosts, covered the entire apartment floor and a giant inflatable pool full of water gave the guests a place to relax while they drank the colorful drinks.
“There was sand all over the apartment until the end of the year,” recalls J.P. Cashiola, a member of the lacrosse team.
“The parties started as something we just wanted to do,” Rubin explained. “We didn’t really know it was going to become a tradition, but as we got older the people in the grades below us wanted to keep it alive.”
Jell-O Wrestling is the theme party that requires the most preparation, but is known to Cashiola as “by far the craziest night of the year.”
Cashiola explained the process: “We make-I dunno-a (expletive deleted) ton of Jell-O and put it in a giant pool and people come and wrestle in it.”
A ton of Jell-O is not so easy to make. “We have to put two gallons of Jell-O in one of those giant black trash bags,” said. Cashiola. “And there are 30 or 40 bags total, and since it’s in the winter we just leave it outside until it’s ready.”
Theme parties on this campus are new and gaining popularity. In fact, rarely will you see a party advertised without a theme because of the excitement that builds around the event.
“You get to dress a little more ridiculous than usual,” said Rice. “You really take it that extra step.”
Junior Matthew Bessey agrees. He says, “Even if you’re not into the theme, you can go and watch people make fools of themselves.”
“They’re also a trick to make people stay,” Gilroy said, “Cause they’re dressed in costumes so they can’t leave.”
Theme parties are also a way to connect with students on campus and meet new people. “When people show up dressed up, it establishes an instant connection with everyone else there,” said Cashiola. “It fosters a more theatrical environment and people are more outgoing.”
Even five years at Haverford College has not deterred fall ‘08 graduate Taylor Sundby from theme parties. “I like theme parties a lot — when people actually participate,” he said. We try to enforce dressing up, but it doesn’t really work.”
This might be due to the dichotomy between what girls and guys can wear. For the Beach Party, guys can throw on some swimming trunks but a bikini is expected on a girl.
“Because of that,” Sundby laughed, “People find it hard to trust our motives.”
Sophomore Mary Elizabeth Taylor said she doesn’t feel pressured to wear anything too promiscuous. “You dress in what you’re comfortable in.” She laughed and added, “but sometimes you do wonder where guys are looking.”
But it is not just the women who question the theme party motives.
“I don’t think theme parties are good,” junior David Ivy-Taylor said. “It’s an excuse to party and I don’t think you need one.”
Sophomore Tucker Smith chimed in, “Is it an excuse or an enhancement?”
This question seemed unanswerable with so many opinions and attitudes surrounding theme parties.
Crystal Fraser, sophomore, has a different opinion. “I go to a party to dance and have fun and wear my best outfit,” she said, “so if I can’t wear what I want and have to stick to a theme, I don’t want to go.”
Bessey argues, “Theme parties get people excited, everyone takes pictures before the party and plans their outfit a week before. People really get into it.”
“They spice things up,” said junior Jake Ralston. “They allow you to do fun things you wouldn’t normally do.”
Sundby, who has thrown his fair share of theme parties, says there is always a fear that people won’t come or the theme will totally fail.
“We’re always nervous of that, but at the end of the night, people just want to come together and have fun,” Sundby said. “It’s just a perk if everyone’s dressed crazy.”