April 5, 2006: On the Campus
On the Campus
By Amy Sennett ’06
As New Jersey temperatures hovered around freezing, those in the Princeton community looking for a little heat were heading to the New Graduate College for tango lessons.
Argentine Tango of Princeton, a graduate student club, holds beginner and intermediate courses on Monday and Thursday nights. The club also hosts monthly workshops, followed by a late-night milonga, or tango dance party.
“It often happens that I will go to a milonga tired, after a long day of working and, after four or five hours of dancing, feel more awake, alert and even exhilarated,” Spanish department graduate student and club officer Rebecca Wolpin said in an email. “It’s the aspect of improvisation which, literally, keeps me on my toes.”
At a recent class, beginners erupted into laughter as instructor Lesley Mitchell instructed them to move “double time” and they stumbled into each other. Apprehension typically found only at a middle school dance briefly gripped the room when she asked them to find a partner, but the more experienced dancers soon were leading their followers across the floor.
“You have to learn how to walk first,” said Damian Fernandez, a history graduate student. While the first few months were frustrating, he said, learning to follow the music and play with the steps was “fantastic” and “much more rewarding.”
Mitchell said tango has “ really taken hold” at Princeton, with classes drawing more than 25 graduate students and community members.
For the more advanced, the magic and challenge of tango lie in its improvisational nature. “There is no book. It’s a street dance, an urban dance,” Mitchell tells her class. “You never know how the leader is going to lead.”
THE CARD GAME of the octogenarian set has scored a victory on the Princeton campus.
In February, the University bridge team qualified for the 2006 North American College Championships in Chicago this summer. The team won over squads from Stanford, Harvard, and Yale to reach the championships for the first time.
Dan Recht ’06, who started the organization during his freshman year, said the victory was especially exciting because the club is relatively new and because the undergraduate team faced many graduate opponents.
The winning tournament team includes club president Jon Ullman ’08, David Lin ’07, and Aleksander Lishkov ’09. The club has 15 to 20 active members.
Riding an unlikely resurgence of interest in the game among younger players, the American Contract Bridge League reinstated its college tournament three years ago. The number of teams competing has increased from fewer than 10 in 2002 to more than 30 this year.
The Princeton club has seen a surprising level of interest from young and old. Recht has taught bridge lessons to more than 40 students and has volunteered to teach bridge at a local senior center.
Despite its quaint image, bridge’s appeal lies in its dependence on skill over luck and its social aspect, club members say.
“I really like games of strategy and skill,” Recht said. “But I can’t stand playing anything alone or in a dark room. In bridge, not only do you have your partner with you, but you have the conversation that develops between hands.”
Despite the University team’s recent success, Recht and Ullman questioned whether bridge is ready for mainstream popularity.
“I wouldn’t want it to become like poker,” Ullman said. “Poker is a game you want to play against someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing.”
“One of my favorite things,” agreed Recht, “is getting beaten by someone who is really good.”
CAN’T UNDERSTAND student references to a place called “the Wa”? Check out Wikipoint, Princeton’s newest, interactive source for campus information.
Following the example of popular Internet site Wikipedia.com, creator Ryan Walsh ’06 designed Wikipoint to be place where students could combine efforts “to make a powerful guidebook or encyclopedia of Princeton undergrad life.” Written collaboratively by volunteers, Wiki articles can be edited by anyone with a Web browser.
The site’s “Dictionary of Princeton Slang” described “the Wa” as “a convenience store located between the Dinky and Forbes. The Wa is open 24 hours a day, so anyone up late and hungry is likely to head there.”
Wikipoint also features descriptions of major campus buildings, blurbs on student clubs and organizations, a “People” section, and a review of Princeton academics. The site doesn’t fail to touch on the less academic aspects of Princeton life, however. See the current entry for “Beast”: “The beer of choice for many students on campus, Milwaukee's Best light goes down easy and is perfect for drinking games even if its taste leaves something to be desired.”
Amy Sennett ’06 is a Woodrow Wilson School major from Milwaukee, Wis.