by Sabrina Guilbeault ’18
Assistant News Editor
Smirking pink whales, pastel dresses with prints of flowers and nautical scenes, pearls, and monogrammed everything have become essential elements of the attire one wears to the infamous and evolving Golf Party. Organized by students off-campus, the event has become a bi-annual tradition, once in the fall and once in the spring, centering around themes of warm weather, drinking, and preppy dressing.
Beginning in the early to mid-1990s, Golf Party has changed throughout its existence on Eaton Street, and even within the past four years, golfing Friars have experienced a different kind of party than the Ghosts of Golf Parties Past. From starting the party as early as 6:30 a.m. in the spring of 2015, to continuing the festivities in the rain this year, Golf Party is very different from what it once was.
“It was nothing like it is today,” said Todd Incantalupo ’98, former assistant director of the Office of Student Activities. “It got the name, Golf Party, because there were nine houses set up, each with a keg. 18 would have been a bit much.”
Many of today’s Friars know the legend of what golf used to be. “Tee-off” would begin at one house, and the group that gathered there would drink the keg until it was gone, and would then move onto the next house. “I think part of the idea came from the fact that when you get a large group of people together to drink, the cops usually break it up and take your beer,” said Incantalupo. “So to combat this, the group would hang out at a house, drink the keg until it was gone, or the cops broke it up, and then would move onto the next location.”
Two years ago, the College created its own event, Friar Fest, to give students another option for springtime fun. The event involves music and food trucks and was implemented to keep students on campus instead of roaming the streets surrounding campus and potentially disturbing the residents who live there.
An increase in law enforcement, especially seen in the past few years, is likely the result of the change students have seen in the party.
“Usually just the organizers knew where the kegs were so it was sort of a surprise to see where you were headed,” said Incantalupo. He explained the whole process of the event was much more “underground” and seemed more manageable.
Incantalupo explained that, from an outsider’s perspective, it seems the theme of the event has remained “golf,” but the attire has become a much more integral part of the event. “The ‘golf’ concept has gone from the set-up of the party—nine houses with kegs—to wear country club attire and walk the streets,” he said. “It had nothing to do with dressing up in my brightest polo or her in her Lily dress.”
David Cabral, professor of the History of Costume and Design through the Department of Theatre, Dance, and Film since 1984, gave his input on the phenomena of the “golf attire.” He explained that when Golf Party first became relevant, what people wore was not as large as a component, and was less about what women were wearing, than the men. “Around about 2000, women in my costume class used to come in and ask about the brands they should wear,” he said.
“The women all seemed to feel like they needed to wear Lilly Pulitzer,” he said. He spoke about how his class discussed the “Jackie Kennedy” look and how the Golf Party itself is reflective of what PC students were actually wearing. “It was all visors and Ralph Lauren for the men, but it seems Vineyard Vines is the newest trend.”
“It’s also much more colorful today, and definitely has lots of bright and springtime colors,” he said. Cabral explained that the clothing people wear for Golf Party is a heightened version of what a “typical PC student” looks like. “If you got every student across the state of Rhode Island to stand in a row, you’d be able to point out who is from PC, who’s from Johnson and Wales, and who is from Rhode Island College,” Cabral said.
It makes sense then that the fashion choices at Golf Party are changing and evolving along with the event. Traditions in general have evolved at PC, as there were many events in the past that might have been just as popular as Golf Party, but are now long forgotten.
Karen Dumais ’87, who works in the Student Activities Office, explained that Golf Party was far from existing when she went to PC, but the big event students got excited for was Done With Civ. “The College would actually bus us all over to an open field and we’d celebrate the end of the year with picnic-like activities,” she said. “It was fun, and people looked forward to it.”
Interestingly, “Done With Civ” was school-sponsored, and was very different than the “Done With Civ” on the Aquinas quad that students organized.
Incantalupo explained that after he graduated in the mid 2000s, “Ridiculousfest” was a popular party that took place on the last day of school. Even more popular was BOP’s Stag Dance, which brought all four grades together, like the Black and White Ball, but it took place every year. “It sort of kicked off the school year.”
Another popular event that does not take place anymore was the Blind Date Dance. “A male dorm would be paired up with a female dorm and your roomies would set you up on a blind date,” Incantalupo said.
“It’s ‘traditions’ like these that make PC what it is,” said Incantalupo. “It’s a fun place to be and to go to school.” He explained the importance of working with the school instead of against it, as PC has the best interest of the students at heart. “Everyone wants a good time, but you have to be reasonable and mindful of the bigger picture.”