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Bingham/Welling & Canfield Party Reviews: The Semester Ends, Unassumingly

Ah, yes, the biannual Bingham-Welling courtyard party: A walled-in space, but outdoors; a Bennington party, but earlier than usual. Sadly, however, despite the advertised start time of 7:00, music didn’t even begin until 9:30, by which time it was already dark, and the party remained mostly empty until the typical time of 11, anyway. The aimed-for darty was not achieved, and so the question became: What if we did day drinking, but at night? As it turned out, perhaps unsurprisingly, the answer was: It would be kinda fun.

The theme was Phineas and Ferb, because remembering TV shows you watched as a child is fun. Cups had fine-tip Sharpie drawings of character’s heads, some people wore green, and others orange, and some DJs even dared to include a song from the show in their set—only to discover that, no matter how clever the lyrics or premise, “There’s a Platypus Controlling Me” is simply not good dance music.

There was also an alleged sub-theme of Get Wet at Welling, and so, on the hill between Noyes and Sawtell, there was a DIY Slip ‘N Slide which, according to user testimonials, “you had to scoot down.” Also, water guns, which were annoying to be randomly sprayed with, but pretty fun to spray at someone else. At least everyone was staying hydrated, with plenty of partygoers treating them as hard-to-aim, two-person water fountains. If the party had been happening at 1 in the afternoon on a Saturday, perhaps all the water would have made sense. But the fundamental problem remained: If you get wet during the day, you dry off. If you get wet at night, you go to bed. 

A keg stand (after the keg was finally more beer than foam), mellow dancing, a fire, outdoor couches, food—Bennington students attempting to seem a normal college for the evening isn’t a new idea (see Swan’s April frat-themed party) but Bingham-Welling came pretty close to actually achieving it. “Real colleges” have parties that come with a certain type of strange outdoor lingering and awkward energy, which was (intentionally or not) present on Friday night. So congratulations, I guess? 

Canfield closed out the term, as usual, on Saturday night. In regards to the theme department, they confusingly decided to eschew their standard binary oppositional format for a six-way versus between two sensations, two body types, and two categories of person. How does one dress as a twink? For most Bennington students, they just showed up as they were. Others, seemingly unaware of the transfeminine usage of the term “doll,” dressed up as antique children’s toys. Which was pretty cool, too. 

Though attendance was good, the decorations were tasteful, and the fire was warm, the music never managed to leave behind the spiritual feeling of the 12:00 to 12:30 DJ slot. The sound also randomly cut out throughout the night, which is, at this point, a trademark of the Canfield party, and has the equivalent effect on dancing-energy of repeatedly kicking someone in the leg. 

Both parties this weekend seemed to be interested in the idea of setting up, essentially, death traps for drunk people. Canfield’s massive, LED-stripped trampoline seems like it could provide endless fun for being a $50 Facebook Marketplace find, but perhaps needs a sort of ignition interlock-like device for anyone wanting to go on it. And though the Slip ‘N Slide at Bingham-Welling played it safe by apparently lacking any soap for the slipping and sliding aspect, it’s still baffling that someone genuinely spearheaded the idea of encouraging inebriated people to barrel down a hill, full-speed, in the dark. 

All in all, it felt less like the last two parties of the term, and more like the last weekend before Thanksgiving break. No peak was ever quite achieved, and with every song that ended, the crowd seemed to pause awkwardly before hearing the next song to confirm that the party was, in fact, not ending. No moment came close to matching the grand-finale energy of the end of Dewey’s bacchanal, with a crowd, united in the joy of doing something mildly illicit, going for two last dances, the threat of a campo officer coming back around the corner of the house at any minute hanging overhead.

At Canfield, the decision was made at about 2:20 to move the speakers and dancing inside, presumably to avoid being shut down. People followed, but barely 40 minutes later, the projector shining against the trees was turned off, the music stopped, and fire pits were dragged off and unceremoniously filled with water, and that was that. Not pain, some pleasure, mostly just—fine. 

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