Britney Spears. OutKast. Lil Mama. 50 Cent. Do those names ring any bells? Hit songs from the 2000’s rang across campus this past weekend, as Bates celebrated the final decade’s dance of the year, Millennium Dance.
The decade’s dances were introduced a few years ago as a way to bring all of campus together in celebration of a particular musical and cultural era; now, the dances have grown to be some of the biggest social events on campus. The three dances, 80’s, 90’s, and Millennium Dance, often involve era-themed music playlists, outfits, and celebrations across campus. They typically occur in the Ladd Library Arcade, and a DJ or live band performs on the elevated platform as students bump around on the main arcade floor.
This year, Bates celebrated the last decade’s dance of the year in style. The DJ played chart-topping tracks from the early 2000’s, and I loved the mix of music. Hits from childhood, though now realized to be inappropriate, included “Yeah,” by Usher, “Gold Digger,” by Kanye West, “Stacy’s Mom,” by Fountains of Wayne, “Since You Been Gone,” by Kelly Clarkson, and “Turn Me On,” by Kevin Lyttle. As students gyrated to the beat, each time a new song came on, students screamed and started yelling lyrics at the tops of their lungs.
Summer Peterson ’18 also enjoyed the music; according to her, “the music was fun. The dancing was fun. It was music we all actually knew, because we were alive when it came out.” Here, she brings up an interesting point; in a few years, all college students will be born after the year 2000, and, consequently, may not remember many of the songs featured in the Millennium Dance. I wonder what their experiences will be like, as they will be less likely to have grown up with the music of the dance.
As the music blared, students were grinding and bumping to the throwback tunes. Taryn Bedard ’18 observed that, “It was less of a culture of slimy interpersonal interactions,” then continued to clarify that people seemed to be more respectful. She observed less unsolicited contact between dancers, such as inappropriate touching or unwanted advances. I also picked up on this pleasant trend; while I am sure that many dancers experienced undesirable physical contact, I saw much less of it compared to past years.
Despite these positive reviews, something peculiar occurred at Millennium this year. I recognized several Lewiston High School students in attendance, brought to campus by family members or friends. I taught in the high schools this spring and was shocked to see some of their familiar faces amongst the fray in the Arcade. While Bates dances remain open to all community members by default, I wasn’t expecting to see my high school students mixing in at our college dances. Despite my discomfort, they appeared to be having a good time, which is the entire purpose of the dances in the first place.
As my last decade’s dance, it was bittersweet to participate in this Bates tradition for the final time. The 80’s, 90’s, and Millennium Dances have been a huge part of my Bates experience, and I hope that other Bates students take the time to determine what traditions they enjoy and choose to participate in them prodigiously.