First-year Cxntry Wall hosts want to keep New College’s norm-defiance alive
Mechanical bull. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

First-year Cxntry Wall hosts want to keep New College’s norm-defiance alive

For days, first-year Ellary Combs found herself walking through the bustle of New College’s cafeteria with a petition sheet in hand. After having seen current students’ Wall ideas in the fall for the first time, Combs and first-years Abigail Nelson and Emma Braun knew that they wanted to throw their first ever Wall in the Spring semester. The Wall they wanted to host was ambitious. Combs would have to depend on her fellow students to help petition for its funding. Combs, Nelson and Braun spent hours in student spaces stopping anyone who was willing to listen to their ideas. Getting enough student support was just the first step in their successful mission to fund a Wall activity that would make New College history – the incorporation of a mechanical bull. 

Weekly-themed New College parties, called Walls, have been described as the “central rite of New College social life” by alums. Student participation in these events date back to the 70s. The campus tradition of these themed parties has continued on into Spring semester, where students voted for the top 10 themes they wanted to see. Most winning themes this semester are being hosted by second-years and upperclassmen, with classics such as Anything But Clothes (ABC) Wall and Punk Wall making a reappearance in the schedule. Cxntry Wall also made the grade. The Wall’s theme hopes to merge country aesthetics with a word that has been reclaimed and redefined by the LGBTQ+ and drag community to mean acting in a powerful, bold and unapologetically feminine manner. 

“Country as a theme had been thrown out but we didn’t think it was New College enough,” Combs commented in an email interview with the Catalyst. “We sort of discarded it until we were able to rephrase it and accidentally came up with a theme that was able to encapsulate just what we were looking for. [Cxntry] completely takes back the preconceived notions about country and turns it into something that everyone can enjoy, even without being a country fan.”

Combs stated that the music will range from country classics to raunchy remixes of country songs, and that attendees are encouraged to “go big or go home” with their outfits – assless chaps, boots, obnoxious hats, rhinestones, cow print and more. 

“We want the vibe to be the vibes of a backyard barbeque mixed with a rodeo where Dolly Parton is the bull rider,” Combs told the Catalyst

Combs, Braun and Nelson have been planning the Wall over the course of the entire semester. The planning has included the Student Allocation Committee (SAC) and Student Activities and Campus Engagement (SAUCE) meetings, dozens of email correspondences, word of mouth communication and petitioning for the SAC to fund a mechanical bull for the party. Because showing student interest is a crucial part in securing funding from the SAC, these student petitions were the biggest factor in successfully receiving the funding. 

“The biggest challenge has definitely been the fight for the mechanical bull,” Combs stated. “Admittedly though, almost every single New College student was in support of our mission, which was great. We are definitely thankful for everyone who has shown support and hope to create an amazing night for everyone.”

The bull will be rented from a local business in Bradenton and a trained employee will operate the bull for the night to ensure rider safety. Partygoers will be asked to sign a safety waiver and receive a wristband at a table near the bull, which will let the operator know who has signed the waiver and who has not. To ensure complete safety, any person who is determined to be under the influence or in an unsafe condition will not be allowed to receive a wristband or ride the bull. 

The hosts also hope to have some friendly competition to see who can stay the longest on the mechanical bull. A top-secret mystery prize will be awarded to the winner. 

“Everyone thinks they can ride the bull the longest,” Combs exclaimed. “But the person who actually does will receive this prize at the end of the night, so come ready to ride.”

The Wall will take place on April 26 from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. at the Nook. There will be dancing under the banyan, decorations and twinkle lights hanging from the branches and corn hole in the yard. Adjacent to the main party will be the mechanical bull, stationed in the grass. 

“We want to create a space for people all over campus to come together and have fun for the night,” Combs noted. “We hope by doing this we can encourage and keep the New College culture alive, continuing to reach out of bounds of the norm. As first years, we have seen the environment that everyone here has created and the community you all have built. New College is a very special place to us and we can’t wait to host our first ever Wall, and hopefully many more.”

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