So there I was, after being coerced by a friend of mine who happens to be one of the founders of this event (yes this is the first one of its kind in Monash!), I bought myself a ticket for this Sadie Hawkins Dance. Looking at the card itself, I can see where this will bring me. The simple yet nuanced flowery details that adorn the thick, pink card tells me the event would be a pleasant, soulful experience in some way or another. I have never really been much of a social person, apart from dancing senseless in a club high with loud music, so I did not really know what to expect here. But I will soon find out (oh dear).
Before I begin, I should talk a bit more about who and what this Sadie Hawkins character represents. First of all, Sadie Hawkins does not exist. In a hillbilly comic strip of the late 30s is where this character appears, as the daughter of Hekzebiah Hawkins, one of the many settlers of a fictional hillbilly town somewhere in the US of A. The father was extremely worried about his daughter still living at home even at the age of 35. So he decided, it was best he get all the bachelors around the town to have a foot race where they will be chased by Sadie, and whoever Sadie catches will be married to her as a consequence. It is this idea of the woman going after the man the Sadie Hawkins Dance is all about. An event where women can freely seek who they desire, instead of waiting idly by as men walk past them.
This event was located in a building called “RUANG” which means “space” in Malay, and it is exactly what it says on the tin. It had two parts, a spacious venue with hardwood floors and a nice interior. There was a small rectangular stage in the middle of this space, with all sides of the walls covered with blackboards. Lights surrounded the area and a number of speakers surrounded such a small space that I felt my ears would explode the moment sound blasts through them (I have rather sensitive ears, unfortunately). Keeping up with the flowery design of the ticket, the entire space was decorated in the same light. There were a lot of flower themed decorations around the area, balloons and Christmas lights adorning the perimeter.
As the clock struck 8pm, there were already a number of attendants filling up the space. Everyone really took to dressing up according to the theme. Each person walking through the doors were either in suits and ties, tube dresses and the like. The space started to fill with the inviting sound of friendly chatter, and the many different colours of attire, worn by the attendees, seem to paint the scenery as a visual compliment to the sounds. It was already feeling quite inviting and happening even before any dancing. Truly the night was still young.
Nobody could ever do anything on an empty stomach, let alone dance. So everyone started to form a line on one side, eager to grab some grub. The food was delicious. Spaghetti, chicken wings, and even hard candy was found to fill all the empty stomachs. I had a nice meal of spaghetti with bolognese sauce, which I say, is too delicious, I actually took my sweet time to enjoy every single bite.
Once meal time was over, it was time for the main attraction of the show, dancing. Two handsome gentlemen handled the audience as the music started to echo in the space. Although it felt more like a nightclub than it did a dance, but this was in a good way. I wouldn’t expect myself to hang out with friends with 60s music, things would have to be ‘appropriate with the times’, should it not? Either way, there were still a few iconic classics being played.
“Who is Sadie Hawkins?” asked one of the hosts, to which the whole audience looked rather puzzled. Answers were given, but all of them were wrong, owning to how obscure this part of American culture is.
There was one part of the event that really set the mood for me. It was when we had to learn how to Swing! This required two people of course, a couple of people actively engaging in a set of moves. I managed to dance with a friend and was able to master the four sets that it required. This moment was really close to me, it felt like I was in those old teen movies I use to watch back in the 90s.
There were nothing but couples, holding hands, dancing to the music. If there was one thing to define the Sadie Hawkins Dance, this would be it.
I have to say that for the first ever event of its kind, the Sadie Hawkins Dance felt like it had always been a part of the Monash experience. I am confident that if this continues, students will have another good reason to come together and create more memories of happiness and joy.
Words by Mohd Fadzrin bin Mohd Fakhri
Photos by Christopher Oh, Sitwat Hashmi, & Pathanarasa Ganesarasa