The Catalyst previews upcoming Halloween COUP
Second-year students and COUP hosts Calypso Camacho and Lainey Rose hold up designs for merchandise on Oct. 12 in the Equipment room. (Taken by Maya Rish.)

The Catalyst previews upcoming Halloween COUP

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In the Equipment Room, second-year students Calypso Camacho and Lainey Rose have been hard at work planning this semester’s Halloween Center of the Universe Party (COUP). Piled full of equipment, old decorations and festive purple lighting, the room emanates the excitement and anticipation of something fun coming to town. There, the Catalyst met with the pair to get details on what exactly the carnival’s ringmasters have planned. 

Rose and Camacho describe themselves as “experienced party planners who are looking to take up the mantle of event hosters,” after the graduation of Nick Beck (‘23), who had historically thrown events such as last semester’s Vampire COUP. According to Rose, there was an absence of other students to fill the role, and for them, it’s important to keep the New College culture alive.

“We want to be the new Nick, One hundred percent he is our inspiration. And so far, he said we are carrying on the legacy,” Rose reported. “We want to show the incoming students what a COUP is all about, there’s a lot of tradition to it.” 

Camacho and Rose described the motif for Haunted Carnival as “festive, but creepy,” and suggested costumes such as a trapeze artist, mime and a strong woman or man. When asked what they will be wearing, the pair said in tandem, “We’re the ringmasters.” Rose plans on dressing in blue, and Camacho in red.

“You definitely don’t have to dress up for the theme, but that’s the most fun aspect,” Rose said.

Students told the Catalyst they are looking forward to creating expressive costumes and thrifting for materials. “I’ll be going thrift shopping and getting some ideas after I get back from fall break,” second-year Olivia Mikkelsen said. 

“I think absurd costumes are really fun,” said first-year Mahalla Hynes, who will be dressing up as a merry-go-round. “Halloween is a time for people to be their weirdest self and for me that means trying to costume in a way that’s a little bit absurd and whimsical. It’s a good excuse to be a little bit ridiculous.”

The ringmasters will be fundraising throughout COUP week by selling posters, stickers and T-shirts in front of the Hamilton “Ham” Center. The merch will feature the Haunted Carnival poster, which was designed by second-year Beaux Delaune and third-year Andy Trinh, as well as special throwback designs from past NCF events, such as the events formerly known as Palm Court Parties (PCP) and previous orientation years. 

Rose and Camacho described how labor- intensive looking through the New College Student Alliance (NCSA) Archives was. “We have a bunch of old screen prints that we’re making shirts from, which we’re thrifting,” Camacho said.

“We had to go through a huge stack. There’s a bunch of screens but only three work. It took so long,” Rose said.

Camacho said it was interesting to see the archived designs, and described how they represent the unique culture and history at NCF. 

“It’ll be nice to have things that are so ‘New College’, especially when so many things are changing, [we can] keep the culture alive,” Camacho said.

Old Mail Room: “The Funhouse”

The Old Mail Room (OMR) will be transformed into the “Funhouse,” where beyond the clown face doorway there will be distorted mirrors, UV lights and fog machines to get lost in. Student DJ sets will change every 30 minutes, and anyone is free to rule the AUX.

“I’m really excited to see what the funhouse looks like. The hosts for Halloween COUP this year, I’ve been to their parties before and they’re always amazing with their planning. They’re very organized. They have a great vision and I trust them,” Mikkelsen said. 

Mikkelson told the Catalyst that she is considering doing a DJ set with second-year Ash Havel.  

“It’s fully inspired by us listening to a genre I’d describe as queer pop. That’s the vibe we’re going for,” Havel said

A Google signup form will be sent out on Oct. 20 for the opportunity to control the music via AUX in both the OMR as well as Palm Court.

Z-Amp: “The Big Top”

Over in Z-Amphitheater (Z-Amp), the space will be teeming with live music and dancing. The band, The Tilt, who played at the first Wall of the semester, will be back and performing from 12:30 a.m.-1 a.m. Several student bands will also be performing, along with a live DJ. Specific musicians, times and locations are yet to be decided.

“I’m really excited for the live music. That’s been really good in past years,” Mikkelsen said.

Palm Court: “Carnival Extravaganza”

Palm Court will present a Carnival Extravaganza, boasting a variety of games and fun while surrounded by palm trees, student music and a bubble-fog machine. Entertainment is set to include tarot readings, ring toss, Whac-A-Mole and a dunk tank. 

The week of fall break and COUP, students will have the opportunity to nominate others for the dunk tank, as well as sign up themselves. The tank will run for one to two hours early in the evening, and there will be a liability form that must be filled out beforehand. Towels will be available for students who participate.

The Nook: “Trapeze in the Trees”

Over in the Nook, the banyan tree will be decked out with lights, a chandelier and clowns. A stage will be set up for live band performances. When asked about who will be playing, Rose explained that musicians are hard to contact. 

“We have a lot of options, bands are just really bad at responding. … There’s a lot of people who haven’t really given us a final answer yet,” Rose said. 

Camacho agreed, “it’s the Saturday before Halloween so a lot of people are already booked.” 

The GDC: “Deathsticks After Dark” 

The knitting club, Anarchy Deathsticks, is hosting an event in the Gender and Diversity Center (GDC) as a COUP alternative for students who want to take a break from the festivities and make crafts.

“Our point is to make it as inclusive as possible. If partying isn’t your thing, but you still want to be out, you can play a board game or craft,” Rose said.

When planning for COUP, the pair said that they have plans to solve some common problems, such as not having enough people to fill a space.  

“We tried to think about some of the issues at other COUPs, and tried to change that. For example, a lot of people come really late, and you don’t really know where to go at first, and everyone is all over. When you’re at a party and there’s only ten people you feel less like you want to dance. It’s so much fun when the OMR is packed and everyone’s dancing. So the idea is to draw people to different spaces at different times,” Rose said. 

This year, Camacho and Rose will be in charge of distributing wrist bands to attendees instead of Student Activities and Campus Engagement (SAUCE), which has handled admission in recent years. Each student is permitted to bring two non-NCF guests, who will be required to show a legal ID to gain entry. 

Other changes to the first COUP of the year include the erasure of Fairies and Dryads, who have historically kept the environment safe, and been the first line of defense for students who are overly intoxicated, as well as making sure no major problems arise. The long-standing position has typically involved handing out water and snacks, and ensuring overall safety during the event. According to Rose and Camacho, SAUCE was the one to break the news, but it’s “higher administration” who want to get rid of the system, because they “don’t want students to be responsible for other students.” At the moment, without the Fairies and Dryads and no functioning system to replace it, the Halloween COUP is left without the support system it has had historically. 

“Their [administration’s] proposal is that there will be an alternative, with an actual training people can go to, and I don’t know if it’ll be a training for students. We might have staff that is going to be here to act as that system, but we won’t be getting that [at this event], so we just get nothing,” Rose said. 

There will be one pro-staff member to oversee COUP, as well as the RAs in attendance along with police. The pair agreed that the change in safety procedure could negatively impact the vibe.

“That’s the conversation that we are having right now, because we don’t want our party to feel overly policed, because that’s going to make students feel uncomfortable,” Camacho said. 

“Normally they’re around the perimeter, making sure people from outside of campus who aren’t supposed to be there don’t come in, but now it’s going to be because there’s no fairies and dryads, there has to be patrolling to make sure everyone is okay,” Rose explained. 

Rose and Camacho said  the safety system hasn’t been finalized yet, and they don’t know exactly what the administration will want to put in place long term. They described the current situation as “very up in the air, and last minute” emphasizing that when police will need to intervene has not been defined.

“It’s been very stressful for us because as hosts we are thinking about these things, and we have enough on our plate. A lot of the pressure has been on us,” Camacho said. 

Other changes include getting rid of the ‘chill room’, which was historically held in Hamilton Classroom 7 (HCL7), and provided food, water and air conditioning so that students could take a break from the heat. Rose and Camacho said they were told that the reason is liability.

“At the end of the day, this isn’t detrimental. It’s still going to be the same,” Rose said. Camacho agreed. “We are sad that these traditions are leaving, but me and Lainey want to do the best we can to keep everything else the same, and make it feel like a COUP is supposed to be. I have high expectations,” she said.

Snacks at COUP will include popcorn and possibly a cotton candy machine, adhering to the carnival theme. 

Volunteers are needed to help run the show. As a fun way to participate in the carnival, volunteers can sign up for 30 minutes to an hour to assist with things such as handing out popcorn, cleaning up the day after and running the dunk tank. A form will soon be available to sign up.

“Since you can’t sign up for Fairies and Dryads now, a good way to get involved is to [volunteer],” Rose said.

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