“When one is in a costume of whatever guise, the past week’s academic and social stresses don’t really matter; it’s all about the moment.”
The life of a theologian pretty much centres around one pivotal question: what can we really believe?
This week I was transported into the world of a speakeasy. Dead animal skins with fierce expressions of superiority graced people’s backs, whilst feathers danced out of headdresses and alcohol was being ironically portrayed as a prohibited substance. We could have easily been sitting in a dingy 1920’s hive of illegal fun, rather than the Union’s rather more respectable bar. But that’s the thing about students. We seem to live in a world of imagination and romantic fantasy. We’re not satisfied with our everyday stresses, what we have or who we are.
It’s all about costumes. During the day it’s CUBC, CURFC, CUFC; meaningless letters jumbled about on people’s backs, arms and trouser legs. We like to decorate ourselves with things that take us away from our mundane lives. ‘We play netball with our friends’, becomes, ‘we represent college in a life or death battle with every ounce of strength and passion in our gallant bodies. We demand respect’.
Such elaboration extends to our resident thespians, who take their costumes into the real world with floppy hair, tight red cords and uniform open-collared shirts. A roll-up is seemingly attached to their right hand with superglue, a brightly coloured script to their left. They are noticeable from a mile away, continually playing their characters in the desperate hope of some drama slipping into their real lives.
And then there’s nightfall. An attempt to create glamour, sophistication and excitement. Sitting amongst the glitterati of the ADC and big names of The Tab at the Fitzgerald-esque extravaganza, the predictable clashes with more mainstream drinking society friends were hindered by the twirls of girls in backless flowing dresses. The crowd was eager to have fun and re-imagine themselves as characters in the black and white shots being projected onto the walls around them.
When one is in a costume of whatever guise, the past week’s academic and social stresses don’t really matter; it’s all about the moment. Cambridge might be known for academic talent, but we mostly spend more time and effort on themed swaps and ents.
My world is choked with essays about the definition and nature of being. The students I saw were escaping the clutches of such a definition by acting out their desire for fantastic levels of glamour and decadence. A girl with intense red hair, asking for attention, pranced around the room in a trance. Male gazes pined after her ‘easy’ frivolity as she probably tried desperately not to think about her essay.
In the bubble of Cambridge opulence we create our own little stories of who we want to be. But if we can create this fantasy, then why not? We have the opportunity to shake off the real world and be immersed into a swirl of false excitement every once in a while. And so we should.