To sign up, we had to pay three dollars and read through the rules of the dance, which basically said "Do not get overly intoxicated, and do not fight with the cadets. DO NOT FIGHT WITH THE CADETS."
Fun Facts about West Point and Sarah Lawrence:
- SLC - 70% female, 30% male.
- West Point - 17% female, 83% male
- SLC - most expensive college in the country
- West Point - Free
- SLC - Liberal Arts College
- West Point - Military Academy
- SLC - Distribution requirements
- West Point - Core curriculum
A match made in heaven.
Friday night I dressed in my finest. I didn't have a tuxedo, but I did have a suit, which I wore with my roommate's black bow tie. I was going to wear a rain jacket, but my other roommate let me borrow his trench coat, and since I just got a haircut, he let me borrow his winter hat as well.
Even more class.
SO MUCH CLASS! MOSCOW SWAG!
We loaded into three vans and left for West Point, which was an hour long car ride away. Our driver got lost and turned into a street on the side of the road and got stuck in a ditch.
Yes. The wheels got stuck in the mud, and we were stuck on the side of the road.
So, dressed in our finest, 13 girls and I piled out of the van into the cold and the mud and we pushed the van out of the hole. It took three tries, but we did it, and we felt more than ready to talk to the West Point cadets, since we now had something in common: physical exertion, heavy machinery, and victory.
We made it to West Point and unloaded into the ballroom. There was a live jazz band, the West Point Jazz Band, uniformed and on-point. I talked to a couple of cadets and attempted to "mix". A bunch of the West Point students were wearing grey uniforms, but others were wearing dress shirts and slacks. After some brief introductions, a guy who looked remarkably like Andy Garcia took the microphone and told everyone to line up, girls on one side and guys on the other.
We did, and once everyone was in position he gave us a crash course in ballroom dancing. We learned the basic move, which includes rocking twice and then doing two quick steps, which he had us memorize with the words "step... step.... quick-quick step... step.... quick quick step..." We practiced for a couple minutes, then he told us to find a partner and try it out.
I danced with a SLC girl who is actually in my Oral History class. We weren't bad, but over her shoulder I could see a girl from our school in a red dress doing crazy spins and other moves with a cadet. I was bumping knees and steeping the wrong way sometimes, and I was constantly looking at my feet muttering "step... step... quick quick step...".
Eventually we left the dance floor and I entered a circle of cadets and started talking to them. I met Georgia, a stocky blonde girl in a grey uniform. She explained to me that all the first-years have to wear the grey uniforms.
"I'm really disappointed in my friends. A lot of the guys are chickening out and not asking girls to dance, which doesn't make sense to me."
"I guess you could tell them to man up." I said. " Or, maybe that isn't the best thing to say to a cadet."
"Probably not." She said, looking over my shoulder. "Oh look! Rob's dancing with a civilian."
"Civilian?" I asked.
"Yup. You're all civilians." she smiled. "Ah, that guy. Good for him. I can still bench more than him though."
This was my favorite phrase of the evening.
I asked her to dance, so we went to the dance floor and Andy Garcia taught us and all of the other dancers how to salsa. This is very different from the basic step. Instead of "Step... step... quick quick step..." the pattern is "quick-quick step.... quick-quick step..."
I placed my right hand on Georgia's waist and held her hand with my left. It was very calloused.
We danced awkwardly and I asked her about school.
"I'm taking six core classes," she said, "American Politics, English, Calculus, Engineering, Combatives..."
"Yeah, we learn how to fight. Right now they're teaching us how to choke people out with our legs."
This was another favorite phrase of my evening.
"What about you?" she asked.
"Well, um....I'm taking three classes."
"Three?!" She stopped dancing. "What? What three classes?
"Um... Child Psychology, Oral History and... Spanish... Intermediate.... Spanish...."
She shook her head and left the dance floor. I sat down at a table with some Sarah Lawrence girls.
"How did it go?! We saw you dancing!"
"It went great." I said. "I'm going to the bathroom."
I walked out of the ballroom and across the lobby to the bathroom. Inside were the stranges urinals I have ever seen in my life. For those of you who have had many experiences with urinals, these jutted out of the wall and looked like toilet bowls shaped like tear-drops. A cadet was urinating one-handedly into one of the urinals, and I knew I would make a fool of my self if I even tried, so I locked myself into a stall and did my business there in privacy.
When I was done, I left the stall and the man was washing his hands. I couldn't help notice how thick his neck was. I washed my hands as well, and I watched in the mirror how in one fluid motion, the cadet turned off the water and swept his hand over the motion sensor on the paper towel dispenser. He dried his hands and left. I waved my hand in front of the paper towel dispenser several times and nothing happened. On the fourth try it finally worked, and I felt very weak and small, like I wasn't bulky enough for the West Point paper towel dispenser to recognize me.
I couldn;t find any more female cadets to dance with, so I danced with a couple more SLC girls until the dance ended. There was a dance contest and some girls I knew won "Call of Duty" the first-person war video game.
The band closed with "Army Blue", a slow song, which I shared with an SLC student, and then we left for our vans.
The mixer was apparently a success. A girl I talked to in the van said she met a guy who asked for her phone number, and that they were going to meet in the city the next day.
"I don't know if he's a novice to dating or what though." she said. "He texted me twice already, and I haven't even responded yet."
We got back to Sarah Lawrence and I returned my roommates' clothes and changed into my pajamas. I pushed a van out of a ditch, I learned how to ballroom dance, and I salsa'd with a cadet from Georgia.