Widgets Magazine

BBQ, Beer and Bulls

One student’s account of a Stanford special dinner

(Illustration by ERIC KOFMAN, edited by ANASTASIA YEE/The Stanford Daily)

It was a dreary evening last Wednesday night, and life seemed to be settling down along the Row. Most students were settling down in their rooms for a night of homework, but as I walked into Sigma Chi, it was a different story. The party was just starting to pick up at the fraternity’s Special Dinner.

As I walked into the house, I was hit by a wave of the Wild West. In line with the theme, some students were fully adorned with feather headdresses, war paint and fake tomahawks, while others sauntered in their chaps and blue jeans. Cowgirls sported plaid and daisy dukes. There were even rodeo girls, bucking bulls and armadillos. Toy guns snapped to settle the masses.

To outside observers, this might seem like a deviation from your normal campus party. But at Stanford, Special Dinners have become a hallmark social event.

Garrett Delgado ‘12, a social chair at Sigma Chi, explained how the frat came up with this Special Dinner’s theme: Wild West Wednesday.

“For themes you just need to find the best combination — a good set of drinks to match the event, [something] fun to dress up for and something people will get excited about,” Delgado said. “If you have those, everything falls . . . into place.”

Having successfully escaped the cowboy sprawls, I made my way across the sea of plaid and war paint to grab my mason jar. I bolted to the kitchen to help myself to the food, and it was a heavenly sight. Shoulder to shoulder with other hungry guests, I made sure to grab a slab of barbequed chicken, mashed potatoes and coleslaw.

“Since it was Wild West themed, we saw it fit that we should get our cook Emese Legeny to make some barbequed chicken and mashed potatoes,” said Connor Lanman ‘13, also a social chair at Sigma Chi, and my date for the night. “We knew our legendary chef could satisfy the hungry college students.”

After filling my plate and my mason jar, I looked for a place to sit. The main living room was beginning to fill, so I plopped myself at the wooden table in the foyer of the house. Across from me sat a cowgirl. An armadillo sat on my left and the county sheriff sat on my right.

Unfamiliar with the guests there, I shyly introduced myself to others.

“So, what do you think so far? Pretty awesome, huh?” I said, trying to strike up conversation.

“Special Dinners are awesome house events!” said Alice Avery ‘12. “They bring a fun, themed party atmosphere and especially good food to what would be a typical dinner, and are a great way for houses to bond.”

“Special Dinners in general are without question the most enjoyable social events you’ll find on campus,” agreed Nick Mendoza ‘12.

The dinner table chatter was abruptly interrupted by loud clacks of silverware against plates. The clatter developed into a roar as guests looked around confusedly. In the midst of this pandemonium, the consul, or president, rose.

“Welcome to Sigma Chi’s Special Dinner!” he bellowed. After a few minutes of introductions, each of the brothers stood one-by-one and introduced their dates.

I could feel myself growing nervous as the line of introductions approached me. Lanman told me to turn around, away from the table, so that others could see me. My face blushed, and I waited in anticipation of how he would introduce me.

“Men, from Pasadena, California, I present to you the lovely Suz,” Lanman said. I smiled from ear to ear as the guys erupted in a hail of “Suuuuzzz.” I could not feel more welcomed.

My glee continued throughout the evening. As I finished up the rest of my food, Lanman stood atop the table and announced the ultimate surprise. This is what he had been setting up all week. “In order to make Special Dinner special, there has to something unique about it,” was all he had told me.

“Ladies and gentlemen, it is my pleasure to present to you, the one, the only, mechanical bull!” Lanman shouted.

The doors burst open, and sitting on top of the bull, holding on with all his might, was Andre De Decker ‘13.

The night really picked up at this point. The mechanical bull became a focal point of the party, prompting a challenge of who could stay on the bull the longest.

Men and women mounted the bull only to see how long they could keep their grasp. Students flew through the air and crashed onto the bouncy mat surrounding the bull. The rest of the evening was dominated by dancing, bull riding and drinking — all in good humor.

“It went extremely well,” Lanman said. “It was . . . one of the best parties I’ve ever been to at Stanford. The only rule at the party was to have fun, and everyone had a great time.”