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Talcott Parsons, professor of Sociology, walked into the Soc Rel sherry party yesterday afternoon and said, with significant experiential overtones, "Is this something special, or is this the same old Friday afternoon?"
He had every right to ask. All the chairs that were supposed to be in the 15th floor lounge of William James were out in the hall. All the tables (except the bar) were turned upside down. Instead of doing typical cocktail hour things, people were sitting on the carpet with their shoes off, laughing, drinking wine, eating bread, and beating out rhythms on upturned trash cans.
A Weekly Affair
The sherry hour is a weekly occasion for the Soc Rel department. It is attended mostly by graduate students and undergraduates. Only a few Faculty members usually show up.
Yesterday's coup was pulled off by a few graduate students who were unhappy with the traditional cocktail party atmosphere. John Newmeyer, a sixth-year graduate student in Social Psychology, and one of the leaders of the coup, termed it a success. "This is only the first time." he said, "and people are a bit uneasy about sitting down. They've never done it before, you know."
As Newmeyer had expected, about half of the 40 graduate students and undergraduates present did not take off their shoes or sit on the floor, Neither did the four or five Faculty members.
Parsons and David J. Armour, assistant professor of Sociology, stood talking near the door most of the time. Later, just after a player piano had been wheeled out of the middle elevator, they stepped in and disappeared.
Meanwhile, a large group of peoplegathered around the player piano. which belted out a variety of old tunes. Several people danced the Charleston. Others just danced.
"What we are aiming toward." Newmeyer said. "is a thing where people are more into grass than alcohol. where there's more flowing speech than barking, where the atmosphere is smooth and relaxed, not sharp and biting."
Marge Theeman, a teaching fellow in Social Relations. another of the coup's leaders, said that they planed to continue having this new-style sherry hour in the future.
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