SAE’s Champagne and Phi Delt Block Party

For one brief evening, SAE resembles the inside of the Union League.

For one brief evening, SAE resembles the inside of the Union League.

With campus abuzz about the upcoming Green Key weekend, Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s heavily attended Champagne event is a party worthy of mention. This termly formal happens theThursday before every big weekend including Homecoming, Winter Carnival, and of course Green Key. For some of us, it commences the highly praised weekend. And for others, it gives us an excuse to skip our 9Ls the next morning and continue the marathon of merriment.

Perhaps even a lucky few drag themselves to 7:45AM drill the next morning with an exciting story to tell, but find they know none of the French, Spanish,or Italian words to describe the revelry. Apparently, some things are entirely untranslatable. Either way, attendees are always fresh faced and eager to begin the weekend and their subsequent downward spiral of sophistication. Still, it’s best to start off with your best foot forward.

Guests are encouraged to break out their formalwear that’s been hiding in the depths of their closets since freshman fall. “The attire is coat and tie for men and dresses for ladies,” said SAE Social Chair Rob Meyer ‘15. In order to keep the evening more intimate, “each brother is allowed to invite up to five guests,” said Meyer. Although the brothers of Sigma Alpha Epsilon didn’t specify shoes or jackets for women, it’s recommended to keep frackets and frat flats at home. After all, why not take one night to be fancy?

Be prepared to receive blitz after blitz of requests for high heels. These rare sights are a staple at Champagne. The prestige of this exclusive event is heightened when guests of legal age are provided with an ample supply of champagne upon arrival. Well, not quite champagne, but the college equivalent: André. The source of the buzz from André is debatably sugar rather than alcohol, but it properly fulfills its duty of nudging formal guests toward the dance floor. André might not satisfy a wine connoisseur, but to a poor college student deprived of anything better than warm Keystone or cheap vodka, it begins to resemble Dom Perignon or Veuve Cliqeut Rosé after a few glasses.

Although dinner is not served, delectable hors d’oeuvres are offered in place of the normal EBA’s garlic knots. A key feature must be noted in order to rightly distinguish this event from other Green Key celebrations. Whereas most parties over Green Key resemble the Theta Delt basement at 2 AM with sweaty half-clad bodies, Champagne is unique in that swing dancing in the living room is customary. Instead of the usual DJ or iPod blasting out the newest One Direction song, SAE hires a jazz band. This year, The Green Room will be playing songs from their danceable jazz, funk, blues, and soul repertoire.

The origins of this elegant event date back to the 1970s, but the inspiration behind its founding remains unknown. One can surmise that an array of elements contributed to the birth of this classiness. The way I imagine it, the SAE President was probably sitting down one evening to read The Great Gatsby when he suddenly started comparing his juvenile nights in frat basements to the extravagant social gatherings that Fitzgerald makes us dream about. If Champagne seeks to accomplish one thing only, it is to remind Dartmouth students of what is expected of them. Drunken dance floor make outs in the bottom of a frat basement are only acceptable during these four (or possibly 5 – sorry engineering majors) precious years in college. When we venture into the real world, we are expected to conduct ourselves in a polished and cultured manner. Champagne enables us to momentarily glimpse of real world raging, and it is certainly a welcome break from a weekend that is always chockfull of unrefined madness.

After Champagne on Thursday evening, you can wake up and stumble over to Phi Delta Alpha’s celebration of spring. On Friday afternoon, students of all classes and shades of pastel will be gathered at the Block Party on Phi Delt’s lawn to celebrate the start of Dartmouth’s best weekend of the year: Green Key. “Green Key is the biggest weekend of the Greek weekends because all of the other big weekends have some sort of tradition behind them, but the Green Key tradition is just partying,” said former Phi Delt social chair Dan Bernhard.

Webster Avenue will be shut down Friday morning in preparation for the flocks of students and alumni whowill congregate at Phi Delt’s Block Party to hangout in the sun and enjoy the live music emanating from the front lawn. Throngs of red-eyed students, tired from their second wave of midterms, will don their favorite sundresses or salmon shorts and head to the Big White Funhouse to join in the daytime festivities. “Basically, we’ll listen to good music, provide everyone with water so that they stay hydrated, and hang out,” said Bernhard.

This year, the Block Party will feature two bands hailing from Providence and Chicago. The Clyde Lawrence Band, led by Brown University sophomore Clyde Lawrence, will return to Hanover to open the Block Party’s live music acts for the second consecutive year. Last year, the band delighted the crowds on Webster Avenue with its piano-based, blues-inspired alternative rock, which included groovy covers of songs like “Ignition” and “Toxic,” as well as the band’s own feel good originals.

Following The Clyde Lawrence Band, the Chicago-based JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound will take the stage. An indie soul band that has described itself as “Otis Redding fronting the Stooges,” they skillfully blend JC Brook’s soulful vocals with instrumentals reminiscent of Velvet Underground. The band’s music video for “Rouse Yourself,” an original song released on their 2013 album “Howl,” stars actors Aubrey Plaza and Jake Johnson, best known for portraying April Ludgate in Parks and Recreation and Nick Miller in New Girl, respectively. The groovy tunes set forth by JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound will challenge even the most sober partygoer to resist dancing.

The Phi Delt Block Party provides a unique opportunity to listen to great music and party outdoors “because Dartmouth doesn’t have very many live music events in the Greek culture,” said former Phi Delt social chair Matt Vetter. “You can listen to bands that you wouldn’t normally hear at a unique venue.” 

Be safe, hang out, and make sure to stay hydrated. You wouldn’t want to miss Green Key due to sunstroke.