On evenings when the sound of clinking silverware and guzzled soup makes Dunster House diners reach for the cotton, the salving melodies of Dunster's harmonious "Dances" comes floating over the table-tops like so much musical manna.
In observing its first birthday this month, the College's band of 14 troubaders, who give out "for the hell of it," will be commemorating a year in which they have rendered "everything that can be sung and everything that can't."
This amazingly versatile repertoire has been wafted to more or less appreciative audiences in such cultural establishments as Wellesley College, Eliot House, Hazen's lunch counter, and some of the more receptive saloons located between Massachusetts Avenue and Wayne, Pa.
Group Formed Last Fall
When present leader Charles H. Vivian 5G posted a sheet in the Dunster lobby last fall asking for residents interested in a House Choir, several vocally minded Funsters penned their signatures, and the new chanting society was conceived.
Immediate objective of the Choir was to lend Yuletide atmosphere to an impending House Christmas play. While rehearsing the traditional hymns and narrative songs, including "White Christmas," the Dunces began to loosen up and let go, and soon found themselves at various Dunster and other House dances.
With some mellowing beer in them, and with the vocal mutes out, the boys soon found that local barkeeps and restauranteurs were not always appreciative of voluminous, if slightly alcoholic, 12 to 14 part harmony.
Dunces Storm Cronin's
One wintry evening, the Dunces entrenched at Jim Cronin's tavern and proceeded to lend the patronage some well-tuned culture. Cronin's, which likes to compare itself to Mory's down at Yale, soon decided that it would not institutionalize the Dunces, as its Eli counterpart had glorified the Whiffenpoofs.
The Dunces had just commenced a medley of Crimson football songs, when burly Jim Cronin wound up and pegged his melifluous clients out into a cold Dunster Street. Subsequent attempts to establish themselves at Cronin's netted them only further icy receptions.
At McBride's, the Oxford Grill, Club 100, and other Square emporiums, bouncers and bosses have enjoined the chanters to silence their serenading At last abandoning their attempts at mixing beer and barbershop, the Dunces settled in spiritless Hazen's lunch counter.
Home at Last
Here they were treated like long-lost relatives. Mary, the waitress, treats them like a "godmother," serving them a strict diet of cheeseburgers and "chocolate malted frappes." "Here we can sing until the frappes curdle, and nobody says a word," the choresters exclaim.
If the songsters couldn't stock up on malt beverages, at least they could have their fill of ballads, some classical, some not. At first "we used a Yale song book, which, of course, started us off on the wrong foot."
So with help of the "smaltzy" arrangements of former student Jack Brundage, the Dances gradually built up their own repertoire. With Brahms' "Liebeslieder" and Rodgers and Hart's "Dancing in the Dark" on the tip of resonating tongues, they soon drew invitations to women's colleges.
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