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OSA to help students swing into the new semester

OSA event assistants Jennifer Thao, Chloe Garcia and Rebecca Freeman “brainstorm” for the upcoming sock hop. At the dance, Cola will be served as a “Brown Cow.” (Stephanie Scerra)

Many students have entered the new semester with expectations of large homework loads, tough readings and new information. But this Friday, the Office of Student Activities (OSA) is giving Mills College something else to look forward to, a reason to shake, rattle and roll. Grab a poodle skirt and a pair of blue suede shoes because OSA is putting on a sock hop.

“In the 1950s, dances were often held in high school gyms, and high school gyms never want a bunch of people wearing high-heeled shoes or any kind of hard shoes on their gym floor. So they would ask all the students to wear socks so they didn’t damage the floor,” explained Mandy Benson,  Assistant Director of Student Activities.

But unlike the typical ‘50s dance, the sock hop will be in a transformed Student Union, where socks are only recommended, not required.

“We’re going to try to transform the early-1900s Student Union into a more 1950s diner-type theme,” Benson said. “We’ll have decorations that cover an entire wall of the Union.”

Events Assistant Rebecca Freeman encourages people to dress “nifty-fifty” to enhance the décor.

“The more people dress up and get into the theme, the better, because that kind of recreates it and almost becomes its own decoration,” Freeman said.

OSA hopes to make the Union not only look like a ‘50s diner, but smell, taste and sound like one, too. There will be hamburgers, grilled cheese sandwiches, french fries and some vegetarian options, ready for guests to eat at tall tables. The vendors will be giving the first 100 burgers out for free and, afterward, more food will be available for purchase. Even the drinks will cater to the theme.

“We’re having a soda fountain where soda jerks – which is what they were called in the ‘50s – wear the little paper hats,” Freeman said.

According to Freeman, drinks will be served with ice cream and go by its 50s name: Sprites will be Snow Whites, grape sodas will be Purple Cows, root beers and cola will be Brown Cows and Ginger Ales will be Boston Cows.

To help people rock around the clock as they sip their pops, OSA plans to have ‘50s music playing throughout the night.

“We’ll have a real, old-fashioned, Happy Days-style jukebox that will be on freeplay all night so people can come up and pick the songs they want to play,” Benson said.

For those interested in boogie-woogieing on the dance floor, Belinda Rieklefs, a founding member of the Northern California Lindy Society, will be giving swing-dancing lessons. Benson hopes Belinda’s instruction will be as well received as the dance lessons OSA has held in the past.

“When we did the Roaring 2010’s Party for the Final Friday in January 2010, we had a dance teacher come and it was so much fun,” Benson said. “I was shocked that almost every single person got out there and learned the dance. After seeing (the success), we were like, ‘We need more dance lessons!’”

The grand finale of the 1950s sock hop will be a special guest performance.

“There’s an Elvis…I don’t even want to say impersonator. I think it’s Elvis recreated,” Freeman said. “He’s singing some favorites of Elvis…and he’s throwing glittery scarves in the audience.”

Rick Torres, a famous Elvis impersonator, will be performing some of the King’s favorites at the end of Friday night’s sock hop. (Courtesy of Rick Torres)

“Elvis,” otherwise known as Rick Torres, won both the 2008 and 2010 GigMasters Rising Star Award for Best Elvis Impersonator. According to his website, he has performed in more shows than any other Elvis Tribute artist in North America. This summer, he will debut in the film The Doggie Boogie Movie.

“He’s one of he best Elvis impersonators in the Bay Area,” Freeman said.

In addition, the dance will provide a way for students to help members of the Bay Area that are in need – and still stick with the fun sock hop theme.

“(Freeman) has such a commitment to service that she’s always looking for a way to turn out events into a service project – which we love,” Benson said. “It was her idea that…people could donate a dollar and we could put that money to buying socks for people who need them at homeless shelters right now.”

Courtney Young-Law, adviser of the Associated Students of Mills College (ASMC), hopes that the sock hop will give students a break from their studies.

“Our goal for this event – and the Final Friday and Second Saturday series in general – is to have a patterned programming so that students know that things are going to be happening on these designated weekends,” Young-Law said. “We strive to have events and opportunities for connection, fun, celebration – particularly because our students work so hard and spend so much time studying.”

The sock hop will be held this Friday, Jan. 28 at 8 p.m. in the Student Union.