Grinnellians love to dress up. We embrace every chance to put away our homework and don the most ridiculous, fantastic costumes you’ve ever seen — and we do it at least three times a semester!
Part of the fun is designing and crafting the costumes — a ritual filled with frantic runs to Goodwill, the consignment stores downtown, and friends’ closets to borrow a hallmate’s couture: neon green tights and fedora? Halloween is, of course, the costume favorite, but there are several other big themed events that attract those who love to dress up: ’80s, Disco, Mary B. James (our annual cross-dressing party…“Mary, Be James!”…get it?), and the Spring and Winter Waltz evenings, to name just a few.
What amazes me isn’t so much the sometimes bizarre costumes, but the precision with which they’re done, and the vast range of ideas people come up with. Costume designs span the decades, from Danny in Grease to Lady Gaga, from Mary Poppins (umbrella with parrot’s head on the top, giant bag, hat, tape measure, and all) to the yellowjumpsuited revengeful bride in Kill Bill. Last Halloween, some particularly notable partygoers wove academics into their costumes. Representing the world of the fine arts, roommates Heather Riggs and Mandy Fassett (both ’12) dressed up as Van Gogh’s Starry Night and a Jackson Pollack piece, respectively. A trio of Grinnellians currently studying Russian dressed up as characters from an old Soviet TV show they’d recently watched in class. They dropped by the Russian language house and their professor’s house for trick or treating. The sciences were represented by a student dressed as a very convincing Rubik’s cube (handmade, with rotating sides). My personal favorite costume for this year: H1N1. Not only did the wearers of this costume have the molecular structure of the virus quite accurately depicted between the two of them, but the pig ears, nose, and tail, and accompanying oinks helped make it very clear what they were for the night. Needless to say, the sign on their backs was unnecessary. I did love that it took two people to rock out the H1N1 look.
After Disco, glitter seems to turn up everywhere on campus. The following Sunday, I even found some in Burling Library! Nor can I forget just how many Grinnellians own spandex and seize any chance they can to rock out in their favorite fabric.
Costuming here isn’t about buying the snazziest outfit online, but rather how creative you can be with the resources you have. That includes awesome peers who will own a feathery pink boa, available for loan, or a sewing machine to make your sneezing-panda-from-YouTube outfit. It’s about being passionately creative, resourceful, and different.
To me, the love Grinnellians have for costuming says a lot about who we are: passionate, goofy, wildly inventive, socially conscious, bold — and very sparkly under the lights at Disco.
Sunanda Vaidheesh '12 is a Sociology Major and Global Development Studies concentrator from Mumbai, India.