There’s something sacred about the excitement leading up to celebration days. For me, it was always the giddiness leading up to Christmas that stood out the most as a child. Everyone excited about the days off school, the promise of presents and the thought that it’d probably still be warm enough to play outside since we were in South Louisiana.
As a kid, I never took into account the non-Christian kids who were more than likely rather sad about having time off for Christmas but not their own holidays. But that’s a separate issue entirely.
Growing older, Christmas has morphed into a symbol of the past when my brother and I still believed in Santa, and a new college tradition has brought out similar anticipation and joy.
It’s called Chimes Night. In the manner of Hanukkah, staff members of the student newspaper celebrate for a week. It begins the moment our managing editor sends out the famous Chimes Night Email Sunday evening, which details the crunk attitude and lack of preparation possible for such an event.
The email’s signature style includes hyperlinks to photos from past Nights, highlighting the bacchanalia we might hope to recreate on the Saturday following.
Since this ritual is imagistic, staff members proceed to change their profile pictures to the best of former Nights. Others begin special diets, swear off drinking for a week or get serious about their tan lines.
This week is always Dead Week, when no assignments are supposed to be due in class for maximum effort Exam Week, but this is a lie. What happens instead is staffers spend the entire week oscillating between worrying about group projects and term papers and fretting about proper outfits.
As a campus group, staffers of the daily student newspaper are arguably the ones who spend the most cumulative hours creating original content for widespread distribution, so this brand of cutting loose is not a part of every weekend. We spend that time emailing sources, coordinating photography for events and covering said events.
So the buildup for Chimes Night lasts through the semester. More than greek life formals, more than championship games, more than even Christmas at this point, the magic of letting loose with the people with whom you spend the hardest-working hours of your college life with is unbelievable.
It’s the single thing I can say I’ve never seen anyone half-ass in college. When someone goes in on Chimes Night, they go all in, and the results include outpourings of love, dancing on stage at The Varsity and the most epic hangovers no matter what you drank.
It’s a thing of beauty to behold, and this semester will be my last as a student, a fate I share with 16 other graduating seniors.
There will be other celebrations, other jobs that capture my heart, other people that brighten my life, but nothing will be as vivid as standing on the balcony at my second Chimes Night, watching the crowd churn on the dance floor below while behind me, an editor yelled about how wonderful a writer had become. In that moment, I could smell the alcohol-soaked wood of the balcony railing mingled with the cumulative sweat of everyone packed into the tiny space suspended above the main bar, and the energy that came from our desire to act like fools together was overwhelming.
Maybe it was just the alcohol talking, but that’s what Chimes Night is about. Credit in the form of words and dancing and sloppily-written love notes in a senior’s card. Something so specifically college and so universal it almost hurts.
The one moment that describes the night perfectly is this photo. The hug, the crush of people, the unicorn head.
Bring it on, week, because I just changed my profile picture and this Saturday night, it’s going down.