Romans Get Loco for Hoco


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After two years of attending on-campus Homecomings, Latin students celebrated the chance to go to an off-site dance.

The idea of attending Homecoming at an outside venue was foreign to all four classes of Latin’s Upper School students until September 30, when Romans flocked to the Museum of Contemporary Art, or the MCA, thanks to the work of Interim Upper School Director Nick Baer.

Homecoming has been held on-campus for the past few years due to the lasting effects of the pandemic. However, hosting the dance at school generated complaints from both students and the school itself. Last year, the presence of alumni gatherings caused the dance to take place in the roof gym. “Because of events for alumni, there’s always a party or a reunion happening here, so we had to find a place off campus,” Mr. Baer said.

What solved an inconvenience for the school also provided a much-needed and highly anticipated change for students. As appealing as dancing in the same place where ninth graders take P.E. may sound, spending a Saturday night at Latin is not exactly fun. “When it’s at school, you’ve always seen that same gym,” sophomore Zoe Curry said. “I like the change in setting.”

However, few people know of the challenges that Mr. Baer and the student government faced in securing an off-campus site. September is peak wedding season, so prices for venues were significantly higher than they were for Winter Ball and Prom. But appreciation on the students’ part is required as well. “When we do pay a lot of money for a venue and it’s cool and we’re really excited about it, it’s always a bummer when kids only stay for a little length of time,” Mr. Baer said.

This year, the selection of the MCA was based on feedback from recent years. Senior Julian Lopez said, “It was a lot better than not having Homecoming, and a lot better than being in the gym.”

Located far enough from school that it felt separate from the on-campus dances, but close enough to avoid transportation troubles, the MCA was the ideal location. The space itself differed from previous years in its more divided floor plan, and some felt that this change was unnecessary. “I thought the galleries were kind of separate,” Zoe said.
On the other hand, many viewed it as a step up from what Latin had to offer on-site. Junior Kate Weiskirch shared, “The venue met all of my expectations.”

The MCA event space was split into three main areas: the balcony, the hall, and the galleries. This separation did take away from the sense of togetherness that these events promote, but, at the same time, provided everyone with options apart from simply spending the night on the dance floor. Rather than being in one room together, students could explore the space and choose how they wanted to spend their evening.

Mr. Baer said, “There were so many different areas to hang out, whether you wanted to dance, of course, or whether you wanted to just walk around and look at the art, or whether you just wanted to sit and chill outside or inside.”

Another well-received change this year was the refreshment station. Instead of having the notorious room labeled “refreshments” from previous dances, which displayed only giant Gatorade-style jugs of water, the dance had a snack station similar to something one might find at a bar mitzvah party.

So what should newcomers to these events expect to stay consistent across venues? Undoubtedly, one of the factors that distinguishes Latin dances from other schools’ events is DJ Swerve. After his first appearance at Winter Ball last year, many were excited about his return at Homecoming, as well as at Convocation the day before. “[Winter Ball] went so well that we’ve used him ever since,” Mr. Baer said. “He’s super reasonable and likes our students.”

Nevertheless, Latin students’ positive view of DJ Swerve did not extend to his soundtrack. The music choices were recognizable but were not necessarily songs that everyone might have wanted to dance to.

“We were dancing to a good song, and then the DJ started playing music that was just undanceable,” Kate said. “He played the right songs, but not at the right time.” She distinctly remembered his decision to turn on Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop” when everyone was in the mosh pit.

Those who had the chance to dance may not have been the happiest with DJ Swerve’s music choices, but the tunes brought everyone together. Zoe noted that the music created an environment previous Homecomings have lacked. “It was loud and very lively,” she said. “People were there to have fun.”

Despite its minor difficulties, the combination of location, music, and refreshments created a successful event where students wanted to participate in the activities the night had to offer. The refreshing change from an on-campus dance to an off-campus dance, mixed with similar changes in other aspects of the event, resulted in a broader range of attendees. “It seemed like attendance across all the grades was really great this year—I think it ticked up if anything,” Mr. Baer said. “Maybe even more importantly, I think kids stayed longer than they have [in the past].”

A perfect dance is nearly impossible, but every year, students’ participation and enthusiasm fuel ideas for the next one. The annual night of community and celebration is an experience that should be appreciated in itself, not just in anticipation of future dances. “If you’re open minded, I think you’re more bound to have fun,” Zoe said.

So if you’re hesitant about showing up to the next school dance or too focused on whether DJ Swerve played enough Taylor Swift, take a word of advice from Julian: “Try to have fun. You only have a few [dances], so it’s important to enjoy them.”