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Chaparral 2017-2018: 26.4 College Culture


Facilities Department


Mixers! Leap Year Dances! Snow Frolics! St. Patrick’s Day! Fashion Shows! Sport Dances! Beach Parties! Desert Jaunts! Upside Down Dances! Sorority Banquets!

Sound like familiar campus chatter?

No? Didn’t think so!

But in the days of yore, students and staff were planning one social event after another and the students were all in!

Trips to the snow, school-wide games and pajama parties, sororities and fraternities, assemblies, and most of all, dances! Mixers, to promote friendship and unity, spring flings, fall harvest dances, St. Patrick’s Day, Valentine’s Day, the arrival of a new freshman class—you name the occasion, there was a dance to celebrate. Students cake-walked, fox-trotted, waltzed, and Charleston-ed to orchestras in dance halls, in ballrooms, and most often right outside the bookstore, in their very own Glendale Junior College central Quad.

Sports attire was required at the Sports Dances, another annual tradition at Glendale Junior College—complete with punch prepared and served by the pledges of the Epsilon Omega Sorority, just one of the nine Greek organizations on campus. Harry Lewis’ Orchestra performed—the very same orchestra that was popular at the noon mixers.

What exactly is a “noon mixer?” GJC was very interested in fostering friendship among the students. The school encouraged the sophomores to welcome the freshmen, and hoped that everyone would become one big happy family. So, every week the school held a dance right in the middle of campus. Every week there was a mixer in the Quad.

A favorite was the Sadie Hawkins dance, sometimes called the Upside Down dance. Every November, for one evening, a woman could step out of her passive role and actually ask a guy for a date—or a dance. But soon enough, the Snow Frolic would roll around, and girls were advised that “It is the general custom for the girls to bring lunches for themselves and their boy friends.”   (From the Glendale Galleon, Jan 15, 1933.)

The Snow Frolic, held at Wrightwood Mountain, was an annual tradition—complete with an orchestra, dinner, and, yes, dancing. The students paid 35 cents per ticket and a long caravan of 1930, 40s, or 50s-era cars would depart the school at 5:30 a.m.

Along with the jam-packed social calendars, students attended assemblies weekly, joined clubs, pledged to their favorite Greek organization, and of course attended classes and studied. They weathered the Great Depression, World War II, the Vietnam War, and tried to balance their home life, social life, classes, and careers. Even though we see the lighthearted snapshots and think of the “Happy-go-lucky Fifties,” it’s easy to overlook the struggles the young men and women of GJC faced. Today’s students face their own battles, but I have to wonder if dancing in the Quad during lunchtime might just lessen the stress!


Thank you to the Glendale College Archives for supplying the pictures and the information for this article.      

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