This past weekend marked the first “Gelb at Commons” Dance, in which the popular Gelb Dance was effectually moved to Paresky Commons. Instead of each of the three floors of Gelb playing a different style of music as was tradition, three floors of Paresky — Upper Right, Lower Right and Susie’s — became dancefloors.
It was a good attempt. After the dance was cancelled last year when $200 worth of science equipment was damaged, the Student Activities Board did its best to recreate the feeling of the traditional Gelb Dance, even sectioning off parts of the roomy dining halls for a more intimate feel. But I believe that the Gelb Dance seemed to have lost its authenticity, uniqueness and allure with the change of location.
I, along with other Juniors, decided not to attend the dance last Saturday due to the pessimism of upperclassmen who have experienced a Gelb dance and the widespread consensus that the dance was uninspired and conventional. Before I even applied to Andover, I remember my tour guide enthusiastically describing how Gelb magically transformed every winter; that excitement seemed entirely lost as my peers convinced me that attending the dance would be a disappointment and a waste of time. This was no longer the dance that Nancy Kim ’17 described as a “hallmark of social life at Andover” and “an outlet for students to relieve their stress” in the September 26 issue of The Phillipian.
Instead, what otherwise would have been an opportunity for the whole school to bond has instead created a negative culture surrounding the dearth of dances on campus. While moving the dance to Paresky seemed innocuous, the school destroyed an important Andover tradition.
Rather than changing the entire nature of the popular social event, preventing future damage is a far more logical solution. Although the damage done to the equipment was costly, the solution does not have to be so radical. Once students and faculty negotiate and decide on who will be responsible for taking these preventative measures, students can start taking steps to prevent a similar incident from occurring again.
If we are truly committed and determined to have the dance at Gelb, we can take even more thorough precautions. For example, we can move all lab equipment to a different location, such as Paresky. Located right next to Gelb, Paresky has ample space to hold and protect the fragile equipment during the dance.
It is unfair to burden the staff or faculty with a task that only serves our recreational desires. Student Council, which is responsible for reflecting the student body’s concerns, should organize a group of student volunteers to move the equipment. As an extra precaution, to prevent equipment damage from aggressive vibrations from the music, there could be a limit placed on the number of decibels. Student DJs and the Student Activities Board could work out a range of decibels that would keep the equipment safe and ensure the continuation of Gelb.
Part of the allure of Gelb Dance is that it is held in an academic building. Unlike the dances held in Paresky Commons or Susie’s, Gelb represents a fusion of academic and social life that accurately symbolizes our lives as students here. Students are willing to go the extra mile to bring the dance back to its original location. Denying students one of the most memorable events of the year is not a suitable response for a preventable problem that many students would be willing to resolve.
_Adrienne Zhang is a Junior from Hong Kong, China._