“I don’t get Lick-It. If it is about individuality, why does everyone dress the same?” This was the first comment I heard on the Friday morning before Lick It had taken place. At the time, my answer was simple but genuine: “I don’t know.” Maybe there was something about nakedness that made evident the uniqueness of each body. Maybe Lick-It was about being (or seemingly being) confident with oneself. Maybe it was simply beyond clothes, deeper and more profound than appearances. Later in the night, I was pleased to see that, whether dressing similar to one another or not, many people were having fun experimenting with clothing.

Lick-It is Bates’ annual celebration of individuality, organized by OutFront. This year was themed “the world of fantasy – dragons, magic, and melodramatic family affairs.” Lick-It has been a tradition at Bates for 23 years and it is considered one of the college’s dearest events. While the theme was brilliant, I was hesitant to consider the possibility of people transforming identities into costumes (see: Halloween). Despite my initial concern, Lick-It was more than costumes and “the naked dance.” While the Benjamin Mays Center had indeed more people than articles of clothing, this was simply one aspect of the night.

Aimee Oakes ’20 mentioned that she loves Lick-It. “You could go in your PJs,” mentioned Oakes. Even though there were many positive reviews, not everyone was comfortable with the atmosphere. Josh Andino ’20, described it as “a wild crashing of bodies. I’m not saying it wasn’t good, but it was much more crowded than other Silo events, and it did get a little bit sweaty and nasty after some time.” Jin Wei ’20 took another perspective: “I wished to see more people being themselves during Lick-It,” he mentioned.

On Saturday, March 25, Gala happened. It was the 28th annual event, themed “Under the Sea.” There were two different live performances happening simultaneously, intertwined with student performances. Drew Collins ’20 mentioned that “the bands were awesome; it was great to have two different ambiences and rooms.”

While the music and ambience were impressive, I was truly astonished by how people dressed. Having both swing music and top hits made my night. “It was two different scenes coexisting,” mentioned Collins. Needless to say, Gala had countless articles of clothing in comparison to Lick-It.

Much like Lick-It, Gala did not please everyone. Oakes ’20 said she preferred Lick-It over Gala. “Gala was different. It wasn’t about being comfortable; my feet hurt all night,” said Oakes.

Gala and Lick-It are very different, and yet very similar. There is no contradiction in wearing a suit one day and flowery skirts in another. In contrast, these events show that identity and individuality are complex.

This weekend, comfort and discomfort coexisted, boundaries were broken and reinstated. A Bates Student article on Lick-It from 2013 by Grace Pezella quoted previous OutFront coordinator, Jarron Brady ’15, and is worth comparing to this year’s event. Brady mentioned that “Bates doesn’t want to be a sexually repressed campus, but it doesn’t really know how to express itself.” I have heard from people that loved Gala and Lick-It and from people who did not. Four years have passed but Brady’s comment is still relevant to our community.

At least Batesies seemed to agree: Gala’s food was exceptional.


The band in Alumni Gym rocks top hits