Friday Night Clubbing… Andover Style

Jaded seniors, ambitious Uppers, confident Lowers and nearly-oriented Juniors all made their way to Uncommons on Friday night for PA’s start-of-school club rally. This event is organized each year by the Phillips Academy Student Activities Board (SAB) and offers students the opportunity to commit to and plunge head first in various clubs—all in a few hectic hours. The various clubs’ booths were crammed into four rows of tables near the entrance, and a combination of club leaders’ yells, blaring music and student chatter created a cacophonous evening, though it was cool ad rainy outside. New Lower Ann Doherty ’11 said of her first Club Rally experience, “All of the clubs were really ridiculous—in a good way—but ridiculous nonetheless…I liked the whole atmosphere because everyone was in the same place at the same time. It was crowded, but that was fun.” To avoid being swallowed up in the hustle and bustle, clubs employed every trick to lure new members; poster boards splashed with a healthy dose of glitter were exhibited proudly, photo boards were frequently displayed and candy bowls were evident at practically every stand. Louise Ireland ’09, Co-Editor in Chief of The Courant, described her tactics for catching students’ interest. “Since we’re a publication and not an actual club, our main goal was to attract publicity, rather than sign up hundreds of new members. We stuck mostly with huge posters and screaming—and occasional harassment of freshmen we knew.” Some clubs employed techniques to attract student interest that had seemingly no relation to their focus. Andrew Pohly ’09, a co-head of Model U.N., said, “Many clubs effectively used posters that had nothing to do with their clubs, but rather grabbed the attention of passing students.” As always, the myriad of clubs ranged in focus from Oxfam and FaceAids, to the Yorkies and Under the Bed, to Barbeque Society and the Entourage Club. Kennedy Edmonds ’12 said, “I’m really excited for Model U.N. because I’ve heard a lot of good things about it.” Pohly said, “It was great to recruit new people into our club to spread our interest in foreign affairs to new and eager students.” Judging by the full stacks of sign-up sheets for each club, the attendance of every club seems to have surged. Doherty said, “I signed up for at least ten clubs. I either saw someone I knew at the booth, or they lured me in, so to speak. When they start talking to you about their club, you just can’t say no…I’ll probably end up actually going to two.” Ireland agreed. She said, “I think the club rally is effective to get people on clubs’ mailing lists—that doesn’t mean the students will necessarily attend, though. Sometimes you sign up for too many and just can’t make time for all of them.” As opposed to previous years when the club rally has been held in the early afternoon on the Gelb lawn, this year’s was held indoors at night. Although the crowded atmosphere guaranteed a fun time at the club rally, it could become disorienting at times. It was not unusual to be held up in the narrow pathways between tables. Individuals battled tedious traffic flow between stops at the clubs’ tables. Berol Dewdney ’09, Model U.N.’s co-head, said, “I thought that the layout wasn’t particularly effective because there wasn’t a lot of space for different clubs; it made it a lot harder for any club to be organized.” Ireland said, “The club rally was a meat market this year. I think spreading the tables out a little would have been more manageable and made it easier to get around. The club rally is always hectic and this year it was overwhelming. I can’t imagine being a freshman and being attacked by the presidents of clubs.” However, the swarming students and crowded tables did not deter the students from having a good time. Edmonds said, “I really liked the school spirit that was displayed. Everyone obviously wants you to be in their club, and it was so much fun seeing all of the different posters and listening to the club leaders shouting. The energy felt really good.”