By Victoria Lawson | Echo
The student body packs the Hodson Dining Commons, jostling you from all sides. An overhead speaker squeals from microphone interference. The audience is abuzz with a restless energy; the show was supposed to start 20 minutes ago and was delayed due to technical difficulties. Suddenly, the speakers crackle to life as one of the masters of ceremonies races onstage with some jokes to hype up the crowd. The audience cheers, and he is followed by a group of bushy-haired students rushing out to the tune of "Take a Chance On Me" by ABBA, lip syncing the lyrics into curling irons and pretending to play guitar on tennis rackets. It's October 23, 1985 -- you are attending Taylor University's second annual Airband contest.
Taking the spotlight this month as one of Taylor's most beloved annual traditions, the Airband competition students know and love today has grown and evolved significantly since its original debut in the DC.
Below are seven facts about early Airband history, courtesy of Ashley Chu, the university archivist for the Ringenberg Archives and Special Collections room in the Zondervan Library:
- Admission used to be $1 -- but you could get in free if you wore a Taylathon T-shirt.
- There used to be prizes for first, second and third place, and these have varied dramatically from year to year -- Trojan Pizza, various trophies, cash prizes up to $100, and even a candlelit macaroni and cheese dinner!
- The Airband groups often had band names instead of being identified by their floors -- The Jarheads, The Fat Boys, Aces and Myron and the Hunks, to name a few.
- The bands once travelled to other colleges to perform and compete with other universities in the region, including Anderson College, Marion College, Fort Wayne Bible College and Huntington University.
- The bands were originally only judged by their competence in four categories -- costumes, instrumental syncing, lip syncing and originality -- all other additional rules developed slowly over time as the tradition gained popularity.
- The dates for Airband have fluctuated frequently since its inception -- sometimes it would be held as early as October, sometimes as late as May. There have been years with one Airband event per semester, even during homecoming and parent week. This was partially due to increases in attendance and a lack of space, which is why bands now perform twice in one night.
- The trailblazers of the Airband competition include none other than your own faculty and staff -- that's right, your own Associate Professor of Computer Science & Engineering Jeff Cramer, Professor of Education Quinn White, and Chief of Campus Police Jeff Wallace were among some of the original Airband participants, shaping it into the campus favorite it is today.