Late February is usually the height of social and extracurricular spring semester busyness at Macalester. On one packed Friday night on campus, we observed the action. Conclusion: It’s fun to be out enjoying a college weekend evening.

February 26 was a temperate night, with unseasonably warm weather predicted for the next day. Right at the dinner hour students and professors were packed into 226 Neill Hall to hear noted critic Ben Davis ’01 discuss art and class. “Like entrepreneurs, artists often come from families with money,” Davis pointed out. “It’s easier to be creative when basic needs are met.”

Meanwhile, just across the lawn, the Leonard Center field house was jammed with the Kilt Classic, the final indoor track and field meet of the season. The scent of sweat and popcorn mixed with the cheers of the crowd as contestants from local colleges competed with Mac athletes in multiple events. The Mac men’s team was cheering the women’s team (“Come on Rosie!” “Go Sarah!”) in the mile as high jumpers sailed across the bar.

For an even more quintessential Mac experience, one need only recross the great lawn and enter Macalester-Plymouth United Church. Even before the door was opened, the blasting bagpipes of the Macalester Pipe Band were easily audible. The band was holding an open house and pasta dinner to “connect with the community and help people think about pipe band in a positive way,” said Meridith Richmond ’12, who has been involved with the group since college. Neighbors ranging in age from infants to elderly listened to the pipes and drums, tried out chanters, and happily dug into piles of spaghetti.

As the dinner hour turned to evening, the action heated up at Janet Wallace Fine Arts Center. Down in the theater building, it was the second performance of The Clean House, a 2005 Pulitzer-nominated play directed by Stephen Yoakam ’75 and starring a five-member ensemble. Over in the music wing, the Mairs Concert Hall was filling up for the Orchestra Concerto Competition Winners concert, featuring Stephanie Van Fossen ’19 (Madison, Wis.) on flute and Yihao Zhou ’16 (Beijing, China) and Alex Ramiller ’18 (Portland, Ore.) on piano.

As always, the Campus Center was a buzz of activity, with Black History Month keynote speaker and comedian Phoebe Robinson in the John B. Davis lecture hall, the usual roster of pool players next door in The Loch, and dozens more students chatting and studying upstairs. Still later in the evening The Loch would be taken over by the Chinese Culture Club’s game and karaoke night.

Down in Dupre’s basement—in the space affectionately known as 10K—The Spark magazine was holding a release party for its latest literary effort.

But undoubtedly the jumping-est joint on campus this Friday night was Kagin Commons, where more than a hundred students—with team names like Mom’s Spaghetti and The Eggs— were lining up to play laser tag. The excitement was palpable as they were issued their color-coded lasers and set off to chase each other in the dark amidst giant bean bags.

Okay, so some college students are really just big kids. But if February 26 is any indication, they are also art and racial critics, writers, pianists, sprinters, bagpipers, actors, and so much more. All of which can be seen most weekends at Macalester—after dark.

March 14 2016

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