D.C. Diary: Home Sweet Hippodrome

December 3, 1999
The Hippodrome
12 a.m.

I reluctantly came to the Hippodrome at midnight expecting to be the only geek on campus chillin’ in the Marvin Center on a Friday night. Parties were going on in all the dorms, excuse me, residence halls, fraternity boys and sorority girls were at their semi-formals, Manouch was serving up hot dogs to munchie-addled students, and here I was in the Hippodrome to report the scene.

When the elevator doors opened on the fifth floor, shock waves passed through me. First, there were actually people, lots of people, in this new mecca for bowling and billiard enthusiasts. Second, these people actually seemed to be enjoying themselves. Third, and most powerful of all, I was actually looking forward to hanging out with these Hippodrome hooligans.

On the far side of the main room, some students were packing up food and equipment from a Wooden Teeth open mic night. They had interesting things to say about the turnout and how inspirational it is to write. But a dual performance of an impromptu sonnet got my attention.

The butt is so amazing, but it is round, came out of freshman Lauren Silberman’s mouth in her ode to the Wooden Teeth Events chair, who was referred to as the sex symbol of the group. I guess the new Hippodrome gets people to say some pretty crazy stuff.

I caught sophomores Paige Simms, Christina Craig and Eileen Kickish studying late on a Friday night. The book-worms said they were trying out the Hippodrome as a study hall because most floors of the library shut down at 10 p.m. The social atmosphere seemed to be distracting them from their studies (namely guys that continued to stop by to hit on them).

A rowdy bunch of students bowling caught my eye, so I decided to leave the late-night crammers. The next group of kids claimed they were all members of the Troubadors, but I remained skeptical after talking to sophomore Chris Hartwell.

It’s pimpin’. That’s all I have to say, is, well, all Hartwell had to say about the Hippodrome while he threw his six-pounder down the lane for a disappointing gutter-ball. With a Troubador talking like this, I had to wonder. Student Adam Hall kept my suspicions high as he ran around the Hippodrome talking to everyone in sight. I guess the Hippodrome brings out the social animal in a guy, but uncommon behavior for a sophisticated singer.

I stumbled upon freshman Whitney Sweet, who said he was spending his Friday night watching rounds of bowling.

I just love fat men, cigarettes, polyester and curly fries, Sweet said. I guess the Hippodrome was the right place for him (minus the smokes). He described the dance he does to make a ball roll the direction he wants, but I was laughing too hard to understand. The kids at the Hippodrome are a wacky bunch.

To be fair, I checked out the pool table scene where I found sophomore Alex Pavone. He called the joint Hippo-riffic. I’m glad he did, because I could have never come up with such a perfect way to describe Friday night in the Hippodrome. He said he was surprised to see so many people in the new place, and we agreed it must have something to do with the neon lights.

The only downers for the night were my attempts to socialize with three UPD officers who were utterly uninterested in chatting. I also heard constant complaints about the Dine-A-Vision service.

As for the officers, I figured the least they could do was smile since they have the best job on campus: sitting at a table in the Hippodrome doing absolutely nothing. One of the officers assured me that they were looking out for trouble and patrolling the entire building.

Dine-A-Vision manager Evelyn Nicol-Cole confirmed complaints of poor service. She said essentially the University was not prepared to staff Dine-A-Vision when it opened, and when one of the managers left to take a job with the University Club the situation wasn’t helped. The Dine-A-Vision drama was a little much for me to handle at 1 a.m., so I said peace out to the Hippodrome crowd and made my way out of a surreal world of fun in the Marvin Center.

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