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Australian Rules

To all RC Men: Yes, it’s true – all the balls here require you to dress like your mother. The colorful cornucopia of kitch that is the Priscilla Ball rode into HBS folklore last week, providing a refreshing change of scene and sex. This year it moved to the top of the Social Calendar – in timing and, so far, enjoyment. Normally the event provides electric shock treatment to a comatose mid-winter campus, and the reasons for the date change were debated. Some suggested it was due to complaints about February drafts freezing the assets of our short-skirted sybarites. More likely, the dwindling number of hotels who would accept such a gathering gave the organizers little room for maneuver. Either way – students lapped it up, and, as is tradition, snapped up the tickets like Buffett stock tips.

The event, inspired by the 1993 cult movie from down under, gives the women’s clothes to the men and forgets to replace them. The aggressive sexuality of the vamps and tramps jars with the unspeakable ugliness of most of the men. Men and women compete along the same dimension, and the femmes fatales, happily, exterminate the competition.

It starts with the buzz of excitement on campus – men start giggling about implants and VPL. Others (myself included) procrastinate on their outfit until the last minute, and then descend on Oona’s on Mass Ave., in search of the real transformational experience. This place has turned many self respecting HBS’ers into the sartorial equivalent of anthrax. I entered the shop to find a throng of stubbly-South American-machos engaged in a tussle for that to-die-for chiffon skirt. Raffa and Augusto emerged looking quite divine.

A number of blokes made an extraordinary effort (I heard a washroom conversation bemoan the agony of waxing) sporting long skinny legs, great cheekbones and cleavages to die for. Rich T’s 7 foot towering stature would give Elle Macpherson panic attacks, and John B’s bristling hairy chest gave Wonder Woman a new twist. But, boy, they were ugly.

The alcohol flowed, hormones sang (a confused tune) and dancers bumped and grinded to the relentless beat of DJ Derek (no idea what was his name, but Derek seems appropriate). Some odd couples must have been created that night, with lipstick and sensibilities clashing under the moonlight. When a girl pulls a boy because he looks like a girl, you have to wonder about the longevity of the relationship. The Harbus has space for anyone wishing to write the B case.

Awards were given to the most dramatic dress (or lack thereof), and the contestants jiggled to eager applause. Paul, the Australian compere, resplendent in red, kept the pace moving. It was a mystery to me how doe-eyed Morten got pipped to the post, or why Omar failed to make the cut.
On logistics, the Harbor Hotel did a great job – wisely segregating us from their regular guests. The bars closed early, but still managed to lubricate the crowd. The buffet was tasty and plentiful and the views of the bay serene, for those who looked. By 1am, the buses removed the evidence from the scene of the crime, and I headed for Pinocchio’s. A crowd of preppy undergrads stared and cat-called, and one even tried to chat me up. Having been a girl for just a night, my respect for those who do this sort of thing every day is immense.

October 22, 2001
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