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30 June 2007 @ 11:24 am
The Antioch party is a rare and mysterious thing. The combinations of good and bad pop music, of drink and dance, of smoky pool rooms and shouted conversations, of raw sensuality and social anxiety add up to an experience which is almost impossible to duplicate in a house party, bar, club, or even a larger college, because Antioch has so few students that they all come to the parties if they want to. The problem is, they almost always promise more in theory than they can deliver - that social anxiety I mentioned, or some relationship drama getting in your way, or you get dragooned into a debate about the various waves of feminism, or just not enough people show up.

So when one of the CMs kept making noise about having a party in the Dance Space on Saturday evening, "because dammit, after all this, we need a party" it seemed like it would have a high potential for failure. In the aftermath of the fundraising dinner, we dragged the booze and people over to the stoop, for some DJing and talking and "Oh my god did that just happen?" conversations, while the Dance Space got set up. It was a generally good time, and I got to finally talk to those interesting-looking and sounding older Antiochians who had been bouncing around all weekend. It slowly transitioned up to the Dance Space, as I got distracted by a phone call from an interested Obie friend, and there was some drunken mayhem involving a Sharpie.

So when I headed into the Dance Space, it was, surprisingly, full, active, and being DJed by the Lesbop Media Empire, who had pretty much DJed every single party when I was a student. Nostalgia? Sure. Dance? Why the hell not? And then, as I started, those old socially awkward inhibitions were gone. I was with my people. In my space. We had done the best possible job in extraordinary circumstances. It was only a first step, yes, but oh what a first step it was. Why not drink and dance the night away? Current students, recent students, older alums, even some faculty and alumni board members. There was such an intense, obvious collective joy. I found myself exclaiming "I've never felt this uninhibited about dancing!" When they play Decepticon followed by Hey Ya, it's a little too easy, really. During a brief break, I got in a discussion with a slightly older alum from the late 90's, who said "Wow. All those people, trying to relive their youthful fantasies in there." "Yeah," I replied, "but it's ACTUALLY WORKING."

The DJs tried to pack things up at roughly 4AM. We wouldn't let them. I wasn't gonna go to sleep - I was supposed to leave at 7AM, and who's gonna go sleep in a tent for 3 hours after a night like that? Then again, a musical misstep or two, and suddenly the dance floor is pretty much empty. They have to pick a song to immediately start up the party, or no more party. What else could they choose? I shouldn't even have to say it. "Life is a mysterrryyyyy......."

It was basically done at 5:30AM or so. A few straggling all-nighters were left, talking, and in one amusing case, having drunken makeouts (surprisingly few that I saw, all things considered). I got to about 7:30 when I found out my ride had left without me. Oops. I had a backup, and they knew it, so it wasn't that big of a deal, but what to do until then? A stray Alumni Board member found me and almost dragooned me into a Negotiating Committee meeting - they wanted a CM group representative. Happily, my phone rang and I was able to get out of that before I was forced to admit that I had been up all night dancing and drinking, so it probably wasn't ideal to bring me in. Ahhh, leadership!

On the way home, the other person and the car and I discussed, while navigating the Chicago traffic, just how on earth we were going to explain to people who weren't there, what this weekend what like? What it meant?

This is the best I can do.
 
 
30 June 2007 @ 01:26 pm
Coda  
It was difficult to describe the feeling of Antioch being closed, as I mentioned at the start. Like losing a part of myself? Family? A home? Some of those things, but nothing fit it perfectly. At the 60/70's alumni gathering, I spoke with an alum who compared it to losing a nation - we were becoming ex-pats. I liked this idea, and brought it up a little later, when I was at the 80's+ alum gathering. An alum from the 80's spoke up and said, roughly:

"I was born in one of the very few countries in the world to disappear in the last 20 years (Somalia). It was a beautiful place to be and grow up, and now it's not. Losing Antioch is the same feeling."

Consider, historically, the strength of feeling from people chasing their tribes or nations. Consider the Poles, nationless and rebellious for 130 years. Or the Palestinians and Israelis, each considering the same land home, for the last 60 years.

This is how we care.