A and I are old grade school friends from our days in Washington D.C. We fell out of touch at the beginning of our sophomore year of high school and actually ran into each other on the street while both of us were studying abroad at Oxford University. She spent her whole term time as a part of Oriel College and became involved in the student life by attending formal balls, bops, and integrating herself in the Oriel squash and rowing teams. I was a part of New College, so naturally I was curious as to the particular traditions of Oriel College and how they differed with New.
A: Since you’ve been to both Oxford and Cambridge, you know all about bops.
L: Do they differ much between the two universities?
A: Not really, in fact, they operate pretty similarly. Our bops happen post formal ball and are put on for the college by college students. Each time there is a different theme. I think the one at the beginning of the year was some silly pun based one, but the one I took you to was just our end of year party. Essentially, you saw the fancy end of the year one.
L: Oh, okay. So normally instead of formal dress, you all go pretty radical with the costumes.
A: Yes. The special feature about Oriel’s bop is actually we play a the song I Want You Back by the Jackson 5. I don’t know if you know this, but for the longest time Oriel was particularly gender segregated. This song was a way of fighting against that and in fact its gotten to be this weird tradition where the guys take their shirts off when it plays.
L: So was this a marked shift towards to include the girls?
A: I’m not exactly why they take their shirts off or its relevance, but it happens. It could just be a strange Oriel thing.