Ah, the timeless debate; to rush or not to rush.
For me, it was never a question. I didn’t want to rush. I didn’t want to spray myself orange or buy a skirt or Golden Goose shoes. I didn’t want to sacrifice too much of my time to a social club. I had academic plans, athletic plans, and professional goals of my own that I knew a sorority membership would only hinder.
I would like to state that these were preconceived, stereotypical notions of Greek Life, and by no means do I now believe that every sorority girl has a fake tan and at least two Lululemon belt bags. I’m friends with many members, and I know them now to be experts at time management and social skills and are overall fun people to be around. However, I still opted out of rushing my sophomore year and happily live in the in-between space among my friends.
The problem is, I love a good time. One of my personal goals is to dance more and let loose, so when my roommate’s first sorority formal started creeping up, I jumped at the opportunity to attend a party and play some dress-up. Under the threat of murdering my competition, she graciously allowed me to be her date. We got all dolled up on a Friday evening- nails done, hair curled, the works- and headed to take pictures and grab some dinner.
Those affairs were normal, nothing you’ve never experienced before. But once we headed to load onto fancy charter buses, I suddenly became aware of the fact that I was not meant to experience this. Formals were exclusive events. Fraternities and sororities only (for the most part). I was a relative outlier. Approaching felt like someone made a mistake and I would unknowingly become a witness to previously secret events.
Executive members checked us in, and my roommate and I boarded a bus. The inside was lit neon blue, the kind of light that makes white teeth and shoes glow. The seats were filled with girls in glittering short dresses (with a surprising ode to the 80s as an abundance of them featured puffy sleeves or ruffle details). Most girls had brought guys as their dates (of course) and I began to feel bad for forcing my roommate to take me instead of meeting her future husband. She assured me I was probably more fun than a near stranger would be. “I can ask you the icebreaker questions they gave us,” she said. “Would you rather have feet for hands or hands for feet?”
“Um obviously hands for feet. I could at least hide that.”
“No, yeah duh,” she replied. “Do you have a crush on me?” She laughed.
“Ha! Always. You’re the best! In the least sexual way possible,” I supplied in answer.
We went back and forth killing noise as the bus swiftly began pumping loud music from the speakers. Someone had taken over the aux, and we were finally en route to the mystery formal location, singing along to classics. Though I was acutely aware of our differences at that moment, the worlds we walked in, I felt a strange sense of childish community on that bus, singing the same songs we’ve always partied to and filled with the same excitement we had back in our homecoming and prom days.
After a short drive, we arrived at the formal. Location revealed: The Stockyards, a Fort Worth and TCU classic. We entered what used to be a cattle barn. The old wooden planks were decked out in cowboy decor and despite the farm feel it smelled like a crisp summer evening. The actual formal hall was just a big open event space, large enough to accommodate several hundred people with a DJ in the middle and bar stations around the edges. The security was tight, checking IDs and wristbands and working to keep everyone legal and safe.
The next three hours honestly weren’t anything inherently special. We danced to OK music and mingled a little. We got overly sweaty as more people began to arrive and dipped before midnight, stealing several logo cups on the way out (for the memories). Honestly, if you went to a high school dance, you’ve been there and done that.
We topped the night off chilling in too-big t-shirts and attempting to DoorDash cookies with a few people in my roommate’s pledge class. It was a sweet way to end an unexpected evening.
So what’s the takeaway outsiders? Are you really missing anything?
I have to say, the jury’s out on this one. For me, it was a fun experience, but not one I’d sell my soul for to repeat again. I loved spending time with my friends, but truthfully you can dance anywhere. If you’re invited or have the opportunity to attend, go for it! If not, don’t shed too many tears.
Just remember, whatever you choose, rush or don’t rush, do what’s true to who you are, and don’t be afraid to try new things in case you change your mind!