Personal ad #102: looking for a manly man, smiled my way into Harvard and currently in the cooking and sewing concentration. Don't bother responding if you can't belch your way through the alphabet.
At a school where jokes of sexual repression run rampant, Freudian slips are welcome and the idea of Kirkland House's Incestfest is looked upon with envy, the next step in the Harvard Board Game d'Amour consists of spurning the idea of companion-ship altogether. Harvard's Anti-Valentine's Day Dances--Friday at Eliot House, Saturday at Leverett--promoted the new-found acceptance of going solo, giving swinging singles not one but two opportunities to flaunt their freedom. Both dances charged $3/person or $7/couple, clearly discouraging the attendance of couples. Both had DJ's with the strict instructions to avoid slow, smooshy love songs at all costs.
Eliot's dance attendees exhibited the "Love sucks" attitude, requesting the DJ to play such tunes as "I Will Survive," Grease's "You Better Shape Up ('cause I need a man)" and the always bitter "Love Bites." About fifty students danced hard under a strobe light, and according to second-year grad student Tony Zhang, had "a really good time." Leverett's dance attracted roughly two hundred students (mostly first-years and Leverett house residents) with the promise that "the first 100 will receive a kiss" -a rich, sweet Hershey's kiss. An additional perk was the personal ad board where students could advertise their availability, and perhaps even get a response.
Marta Rivas '96 wrote the alphabet belching message in the free spirit of the night. "That was a lot of fun," she said. "I actually put up that message about belching your way through the alphabet to scare people away." Although she did rake in responses from her charming ad, she ended up with a date by responding to someone else's. "I responded to someone who said that he liked to watch the Simpson's, sit around and make fun of people," Rivas said laughing. "So I have a date to have a TV-dinner with a guy who likes to make fun of people."
Other ads included "a really skinny sophomore male seeking woman with pulse" and a "female junior seeking male 6'5" or above with 2 Ph.D.'s and who sings opera, someone who can design a tunnel converting the towers and the dining hall preferred." Both ads some-how attracted responses.
After last year's successful Anti-Valentine's Day Dance, Leverett decided to turn couple-bashing into an annual tradition. As for Eliot, people in the House Committee were, in the words of Co-chair John Malleis '96 "tired of the idea of Valentine's Day. If you don't have a girlfriend or boyfriend, it can be kind of a bummer. We were just like 'All happy people should be shot."
Dance attendees seemed to relish the theme of Anti-Valentine's not merely out of bitterness, but also out of playful cynicism. Although people did not go as far as calling Valentine's Day a spawn of Satan, many view it as a commercialized ploy. Leverett's Aaron Caughey '95 found the idea of Anti-Valentine's Day Dances "fabulous. I think Valentine's Day puts a lot of pressure on people. But this says it's okay to be single--there's no pressure. Valentine's Day is a bit of a marketing thing--you know 'how much stuff can we sell.'" Ingrid Dombrower '98, who attended Eliot's dance, considers the Anti-Valentine's Day movement "great for people who get wrapped up in the spirit of Valentine's Day but refuse to feel less valuable because Hallmark says to be in a relationship."
Of course, at Harvard you'll never be able to please everyone. There were some Anti-Anti-Valentine's Day advocates, such as A. Sinclair Chen '96-'97. Although he considers Valentine's Day to be "the most materialistic, superficial, commercialized holiday there is," he does not think much better of Anti-Valentine's Day efforts. "They become," he explains, "the commercialized counter-culture. For every movement, there is a 'hip' anti-movement that makes it all commercial." I guess this would make him the hip anti-anti-movement or something. Hummm...something to consider while I send out my Hallmark.