Dressing Up

Author: Adriana Pratt ’12

Photo by Barbara Johnston

Bandage skirts wrap shivering legs tight, as chattering platforms tap the alleyway pavement. Eager eyes scan the crowd, taking in the color, fit and cut of each costume. Girls pretend they see a friend and dart to the front of the line. Boys jealously watch, miles from the entrance. Holding out their IDs, the ladies wait for evaluation. Bouncers appraise each entry, with a quick peek at the card and a much longer look at the outfit.

It’s a Thursday night at Feve.

To Feve or not to Feve — is that even a question? Notre Dame undergrads eagerly anticipate the day they can get into Club Fever, known as The Backstage Grill by day and the hottest club South Bend has to offer on Thursday nights. It’s a Domer hot spot that starts the weekend off on a fun, carefree note, a place to forget exams and obligations for a few blissful hours.

Once inside, lacy layers abound, as everywhere you turn another skirt rides up another behind. Men rock plaid shirts and jeans, emphasizing just how “chill” they are. Hazy lights illuminate the basement, where Domers meet and mingle amid drinks. Conversation flows, easy and worry-free.

As you lay your eyes on your love for the night, you slowly but surely make your way to the dance floor. Maybe, just maybe, you end up in “the cage,” a barred and elevated stage students love to dance on. Whatever happens, it’s sure to guarantee laughs the next day.

Feve demands different levels of fashion intensity from guys and girls. Men keep it simple and casual, rarely venturing from their standard T-shirts or button-downs. For the ladies, however, Feve is a land of short skirts, tight shirts and heels your mother would die seeing you in. Girls let their hair down and their hemlines up during this special night each week, taking advantage of the chance to be somebody outside their classes and extracurriculars.

From 9 to 5, it’s all about the J. Crew cardigans, Ralph Lauren cords, Frye leather boots and Tory Burch totes. Between 5 and 7, it’s time to throw on some running shorts and take a jog around the lakes. After that, pull on the Uggs and sweats, sit around and relax. Once the clock strikes 9:30, the transformation begins.

The contradiction between the classroom and Feve uniforms epitomizes a challenge Notre Dame girls face. It’s the Rory Gilmore vs. Carrie Bradshaw, Hermione Granger vs. Serena van der Woodsen dilemma. We’re expected to be smart, quirky and cute, but there’s no denying the pressure to be beautiful, seductive and loads of carefree fun.

On Notre Dame’s campus, these personae collide just as they eventually did for the more conservative characters of our childhood. Rory, the sweet bookish teen on the WB’s old hit show Gilmore Girls, eventually rebelled and flew her scandalous flag. Harry Potter’s know-it-all Hermione coursed through puberty, and suddenly the jerseys were chasing her instead of vice versa.

Gossip Girl’s glamorous Serena van der Woodsen always commanded an audience among men, and Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw was unashamedly focused on attracting male attention. An emphasis on drawing the eyes of the opposite sex exponentially multiplies in college, where hormones and hopes run high and wide.

At Notre Dame, we’re spiritual sisters by day, sorority sisters by night. The University expects us to be exemplary members of society. The reality of college calls us to be a pretty party in a petite package.

While strapping on our heels and heading out for the evening, we find ourselves asking, “Who will we be this time around? Rory and Hermione? Or Serena and Carrie?”

Girls just want to have fun. Cyndi Lauper knew what she was talking about then, and her words still ring true today. Being young and free is a blessing, and we don’t want to miss taking advantage of it.

But no one can deny that the pressure to be a femme fatale sometimes weighs just as heavily as those textbooks in our backpacks. It’s hard to find the balance, and it’s hard to discern if and when we really need to. For now, when it becomes too much to worry about, you can find us on the Feve dance floor.

Adriana Pratt of Carmel, Indiana, is majoring in political science, with a minor in journalism, ethics and democracy. She is an assistant managing editor at Notre Dame’s independent student-run paper, The Observer.