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For this prince, 2000 party over

By Graham C Wheat
Features Editor

School dances seem out of place in a university setting and the Homecoming dance made it more apparent that I am no prince.
I was transported right back to high school in the early 2000s. The same music, the same veiled illusion of being allowed to have fun in a controlled setting, the same bad food and the same bad dancing. But at least this time some people actually looked like they were having fun, instead of the popular kids forced into cliques and the nerds covering the walls.
The only thing different this time was better looking women and being able to drink.
With over 700 tickets sold, there were plenty of people festooned in formal wear pouring into the DoubleTree Hotel on Saturday night. But that was part of the problem. It was the DoubleTree Hotel. The same place where I once sat for hours in sensitivity training seminars.
Either most of the people attending were desperate for a night out, or they just didn’t realize the janky nature that is the DoubleTree.
A few black sheets draped over a makeshift PVC pipe hallway led to the conference room where the actual dance was being held. Beyond the ticket table the music bumped out into the single hallway where attendees not on the floor milled around in their clubwear best.
Unlike high school, there was actually legal alcohol. The drinks were too expensive and watered down, but at least they gave the option for those of us who were of age.
Don’t worry, there were plenty of police and security to make sure we were having fun, but not too much fun.
In the same crowded hallway there was a buffet of sorts for all the dance revelers. The sweets and pastries were decent, but gone way too fast, most likely because the other food, dry chicken sliders and soft pretzels (with no cheese), tasted like cafeteria fare.
The dance itself was in a conference room converted into impromptu club, complete with neon and black lights blasting through the dark room. Montel Jordan’s “This Is How We Do It” blared through the monitor speakers with too much bass. I was instantly transported to my early 2000s days.
Plenty of people were cutting a rug and shaking their groove things to modern hip-hip and throwbacks alike. Somehow it felt like a house party and simultaneously not as much fun.
Despite all the shortcomings, people did seem responsive and to be enjoying themselves. Cam Meyer and Jared Gildon, CSU Bakersfield seniors, said that this year’s dance was much better than previous outings for Homecoming.
They regularly came back to the table with a drink in hand and a shuffle in their step. When they tried getting me to “hit the floor” with them, I made a quick escape to the hallway full of lingerers.
By the time they announced the homecoming royalty, I felt squarely out of place. I was too old, too jaded and too sober.
But I am the prince, somehow.

Rating: 3 out of  5 dancing shoes.