Just Another Foam Party

Posters have been spotted all around campus touting Mather Lather, the newest exercise in foam festivity to hit Harvard. Promising to transform our puritanical little college into “Harvard State University,” flyers lure students with suggestions of suds-soaked decadence and endorsements from a well-known campus figure. What is behind this sudden rise in the popularity of frothy parties?

According to its organizers, Mather Lather is more than just good clean fun. It is an attempt to  “re-establish the dominance of Mather as a party house,” says House Committee (HoCo) Chair Zachary A. Corker ’04. The rise of the Quad as a partying mecca, he says, has meant that “Mather’s reputation as a party dorm has slipped.”

Mather HoCo is betting that 10,800 cubic feet worth of foam, blacklights and barbecue grills will combine to produce what Corker describes as Mather’s “second coming—a reawakening, if you will.” HoCo Secretary Darren S. Morris ’05 enthuses, “This event is totally unprecedented in what it will do for campus social life.” Publicity Chair Aditi A. Prabhu ’04 adds, “They are also hoping to create a tradition for people to rally around,” referencing the Leverett ’80s dance as an example.

The party’s organizers are having a $2200 foam machine shipped in from Kentucky, a state apparently renowned for its foam industry. The party will feature foam dance floors, non-foam dance floors and lounges set up in the hallways in order to fully transform the cinderblock palace into “Club Mather.” Comfortingly, the promotional website (www.matherlather.com) assures the foam-fearing that “if you don’t want to dance in the foam, no one will force you. There will be multiple dance floors, some of which will be foam-free.”

If Mather is truly to rise from the ashes, it needs to attract hundreds to revel in the bubbles—hence the poster campaign that is currently blanketing every surface on campus. The poster designers strategically chose to use Louie, of Louie’s Superette, as their celebrity sponsor. Pictured on the flyer in a Matherhaus T-shirt and sweatband, Louie is “symbolic of partying,” says Prabhu. Taking advantage of what he calls a “close personal relationship” with Louie, Corker says that after he presented him with the free t-shirt and sweatband, Louie was “more than happy to pose.” Corker also notes that Louie “appeals to a younger demographic,” being particularly popular among first-years. Corker declines to speculate on the root of this youth appeal.

Posters implied that pre-frosh girls will be admitted free of charge, in a nod to last year’s controversial Decadanza posters that promised free entrance to Roman Vestal Virgins, a.k.a. first-year girls. But the high-minded shouldn’t work themselves into a lather over the reference—organizers say it is meant as a joke.

The people behind Mather Lather also repudiate the idea that the party is merely another attempt to ride the wave of foam currently sweeping the campus. There was the infamous Winthrop foam party, which featured mud wrestling and 80 cans of shaving cream—a more low-budget, down and dirty incarnation of Mather Lather. However, the foam tradition at Harvard may stretch back further than the past two weeks. Corker says that in the early ’70s, Tommy Lee Jones ’69 and Al Gore ’69 held a foam party in Dunster, and this is rumored to be the occasion on which Al first hooked up with Tipper. It remains to be seen whether Mather Lather will be such a historic occasion.