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Interhouse and Frosh Projects



    1. Interhouse? (1934-present)
      Interhouse is a long tradition. The first known reference was in the Blacker Secretary Logs, Vol I, p.58: "Sat 2 Nov 1935 Interhouse Hallowe'en Dance. Decorated Hawaiian fashion." Later on p. 65, there is the entry "Oct 31, 1936 Interhouse dance, Blacker Egyptian Theme."
      The corresponding, 1937 Big T states on page 116:
        "The next important event [after Rotation and an informal radio dance] was the Hallowe'en dance, when Blacker, decorated to resemble ancient Egypt, proved for the third consecutive time its superior social facility by having the most people dance as exhibited by the large crowd attending both from Blacker and from the other houses."
      I'm interpreting this to imply that the Hallowe'en dance tradition started at least in October 1934. At this time, any multiple House event (there were only 4 houses at this time), was called an "Interhouse" event. Other "interhouse" dances held through the year are consistantly referred to with a lowercase "i", which implies that they are description, not a title like "Interhouse".
      It is my belief that the "Interhouse Hallowe'en Dance" mutated to "Interhouse Dance" and finally to "Interhouse". Until it was banned after 1989, the party was always held the first week of November. By 1936, the party was referred to as the "Interhouse Dance" according to the Blacker Secretarial logs.

      Throughout the 1980s Interhouse became increasingly popular. It was not longer a party for Techers and their dates. College and High School studented throughout Los Angles would attend. The party was increasingly harder to control. Urban legend said that Interhouse made Playboy's "Top Ten Parties of the West Coast" list along with Santa Barbara's Halloween block party and some party up a Reed. (This legend is unconfirmed, attempts to substantiated it have failed to find such a list). In 1986 or 1987 someone on staff was hit with a baseball bat. In 1988 there was a stabbing.



      The Adminstration figured that the worst thing that could do was to build a fence around the party. And so they did in 1989. A 6 foot chain link fence was built between Ricketts and Ruddock on the east and between Fleming and Page on the west. The only non-Techers to be admitted were those with invites or college IDs. Ironically, that year Dabney House decided not to have Interhouse in protest of the actions of the MOSH Louis Wilde. (Dr. Wilde had made certain members of Dabney Persona Non-Grata in Dabney due to a public sex incident).
      The masses came. When it was estimated that there were 10,000 admitted guests, it was decided to close the gate. An estimated 10,000 people were outside the gate wanting to get in. They broke through windows, etc. Jim Mingis, the Administrator in charge of the physical plant, almost decided to call the Pasadena Riot Police to help break things up.

      Following the Interhouse in 1989, the event was officially banned by the Caltech Administration. Gary Lorden, then Vice President for Student Affairs and a former undergrad, had a major role in the decision. And the decision was not without cause. The party was out of control.

      The next year, the students, led in part by Andrea Mejia (fr: 1988, grad 1992), the IHC Secretary, held a 7 house party in Blacker Courtyard, Blacker, and the Philipino Courtyard called Parti-Gras. This was an attempt to show that a large party could be safely held without vast numbers of high school students.
      The following year, 1991, Randy Stevenson (Lloyd), the IHC Chairman started discussions with the Administration about Interhouse, but gave up when he saw they were fruitless. Blacker held Interhouse anyway.
      The IHC of 1992 realized that they were the last class to see a real Interhouse. Under the leadership of Benjamin Smith (fr: 1989, grad 1993), the IHC Chairman, the IHC deliberated on what to do. It came down to two choices. "Fuck 'em and hold it anyway and risk being expelled" or negotiate. All 7 presidents were willing to say "Fuck 'em". But in discussion it was decided not to burn any unnecessary bridges. The Administration had not been approached with an Interhouse plan that dealt with for security and keeping everything all under control. IHC drafted such a plan. Houses planned their decoration locations in a way to block some of the accesses from the courtyards to their interieralleys. Jim Mingus was consulted. The head of Security was consulted. The IHC met with the DRL (Kim West) and the MOSH (Dr. David Wales) to discuss the plans. The IHC attempted to meet all of Ms. West's and Dr. Wales's concerns. At the time they thought that all concerns to date had been met had. Next was an IHC meeting with the Dean (Dr. Rod Keiweit) and Assistant Dean (Barbara Green). The IHC met all of their concerns. Then Ben attempted to set up a meeting with Dr. Gary Lorden to initiate discussion and invite him to an IHC meeting to discuss the subject. Dr. Lorden refused to meet with Ben and Dr. Lorden's Secretary instructed Benjamin to return in a few days. In the next two days Dr. Lorden met with his the Student Affairs Team. This team included Ms. West, Dr. Wales, Dr. Keiweit and Ms. Green. At the end of the meeting all participants unanimously decided that Interhouse was bad. It is not know who said what at that meeting and afterwards the participants would not say. The students suspected that since they had talked to almost everyone in the room except Dr. Lorden and since Dr. Lorden was everyone else's boss, that his opinion swayed the others. When Ben returned a few days later to meet with Dr. Lorden as instructed, again he was told that Dr. Lorden would not speak to him. He was told that he was to speak with Dr. Keiweit. In that meeting Dr. Keiweit informed Ben that Interhouse was banned and that from this date on, no more than 2 houses were allowed to have parties on campus at the same time.

      Presidents were about to leave office, so the fall back plan, the "Fuck 'em, do it anyway" effort fell apart. Blacker held Interhouse anyway.

      Fall of 1993: by this time Benjamin Smith was a super senior and President of Blacker. The Dabney President, William "Caesar" Caesarotti was also a super senior. Those that had seen a real Interhouse were dwindling to countable small numbers, so these two set out to organize again. Fleming joined the movement. Page didn't feel like Interhouse was worth the effort. Lloyd had their own big party 3rd term and didn't want to rebel. The Ruddock president, Stanley Grant did want to partisipate, but in a narrow vote Ruddock decided not to joint the movement. Stan respected the wishes of his house. Ruddock held it's own annual Interhouse type party called OPI (Own Private Interhouse) during 2nd term. Ricketts was in a budget crisis and strapped for cash. They wanted to help, but Apache was more important. Fleming, Dabney and Blacker were resolved to press forward.
      Due to all of the maneuvering, the 3 house Interhouse was pushed back to early 2nd term, 1994. In a scheduling mishap, Kim West was not notified ahead of time. She was convientently planning to be out of town that weekend. Ms. West said that she would have supported the parties if she was in town, but since she wasn't, she couldn't. Unfortunately, Fleming had already paid for a band. After much discussing, it was agreed that Dabney and Blacker should postpone their parties. Fleming held theirs alone. The next weekend happened to be Ruddock's OPI. Blacker had changed presidents, so James Honnaker (fr: 1992, grad: 1997) inherited a potentially flammable situation. As Ben said to James, "Here's your Somalia" (referring to the US troops that were in a UN peacekeeping mission in Somalia when President George Bush was replaced by President Bill Clinton in January 1993). Much to Ruddock's chagrin, Blacker and Dabney held their parties the same weekend as OPI. It was a good set of parties.

      During fall 1994, the subject of Interhouse was raised to the IHC by Blacker again, but got no interest. Blacker held it's Innerhovse anyway.

      Sometime during the Presidency of Alison Slemp (fr: 1992, grad 1996) which was January 1995 to January 1996, probably fall 1996, Dr. Gary Lorden approached the IHC and told them that they could have Interhouse back if they wanted. Alison, showing the sentiments of Blacker, said "Yes!" The other 6 presidents said, "No." The Interhouse movement was finally dead.

      Time passed. Blacker continued to hold an annual Interhouse, though sometimes it is called "Innerhovse". All though that Interhouse was dead and buried. Starting in the Summer of 2005 all of the South Houses were closed for major renovations. The students lived in trailer parks near Holliston. The Houses were reopened January 1, 2007. To reward the students and to bring back alums to help fund the renovation, a combination of the IHC, Student Affairs, and the Alumni Assocation brought back Interhouse. This time it would held only in the 4 South Houses. The 3 North Houses and Avery paired up with a South house. Major alumni events were held that weekend. Student Affairs kicked in $5000 to each House to cover construction budgets. On Saturday January 13th, 2007 Interhouse returned.i

      It is hoped the Interhouse will return on November 2007.

      In 1933, there was Interhouse was not held. However, there was the normal Halowe'en Dance.


      For many years, since at least 1981, Blacker's Interhouse would also have a skit. There would be a 10pm showing and a midnight showing. The second skit would be more inebriated. Much of the content was lots of in-house or Tech related jokes. This practive held until 2000 or so.

      Here are the Interhouse themes over the years:
        Date Theme Notes
        Fri, 2 Nov 1934 Carnival
        Sat, 2 Nov 1935 Hawaiian
        Sat, 31 Oct 1936 Ancient Egypt
        1937 Unknown
        1938 Unknown
        Sat, 4 Nov 1939 Old South
        Nov 1940 Mid-Victorian
        Nov 1941 Ancient Greece
        Nov 1942 Dogpatch
        1943 None Closed for WWII
        1944 None Closed for WWII
        1945 None Closed for WWII
        Fri, 11 May 1946 Gambling Ship The California Tech on 1 Nov 1946 states that this was the theme from "last time" but that time is not stated. Blacker Sec'y log (Vol 1, p. 142) specifically names the date.
        Sat, 2 Nov 1946 The Lost Weekend "shockingly startling surrelistic decorations" and a 10 piece orchestra
        Sat, 6 Dec 1947 musical theme "musical theme with lots of instruments, music, bandleaders, and a fine silhouette of a hot jazz combo" The California Tech 11 Dec 1947.
        Sat, 6 Nov 1948 "An Evening in Hell" "...was more on the order of a combined ___moving, brush clearing, flood-control operation than a __ yet, when a thousand man-hours of labor, a hundred ___ags, acres of canvas, a month's quota of water, and ____ units of elbow grease, paint, sweat and years were ____ assembled, there is was, and it looked like Hell."
        Sat, 5 Nov 1949 Early California
        Sat, 4 Nov 1950 Microcosm 25-foot mushroom, monstrous spiders and webs, gigantic ladybugs and ants, and oversized vegetation.
        Sat, 3 Nov 1951 English Castle
        Sat, 8 Nov 1952 Arabian Nights Arabian Nights. Decorations included a Mosque, flying carpets and partially flooded courtyard as a reflecting pool
        Sat, 7 Nov 1953 Peter Pan Fully flooded courtyard, beach, shipwreck (after firing a broadside)
        1954 Wizard of Oz
        1955 Riverboat Old Starnwheeler
        1956 Jack and the Beanstalk
        1957 Treasure Island 60 foot ship diagonal across the courtyard
        1958 ...90 foot dragon
        1959 Ulysses' esacape from the Cyclops
        1960 Spanish Ruin
        1961 Volcano and Cave
        1962 Nordic Traditional ship and flooded courtyard
        1964 Alpine Scene
        1965 Indoor Beer Hall "Schwartzerbrau"
        1966 Alice in Wonderland
        1967 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
        1968 Monopoly
        1969 Wizard of Oz Emerald City
        1970 Unknown
        Sat, 13 Nov 1971 Minature Golf
        1972 Dante's Inferno
        1973 1920s Speakeasy and Casino IHC moved Interhouse back 2 weeks--it rained anyway
        Sat, 16 Nov 1974 Cafe American in Casablanca Really Speakeasy and Casino again
        1975 Carnival
        1976 Speakeasy
        Sat, 12 Nov 1977 Pacific Island Jungle with flooded courtyard, a south seas bar, girls in grass skirts and a waterfall from Upper P kitchenette
        1978 Sleazy Waterfront and Bar
        1979 Klondike With Klondike Kate's Saloon, gambling, etc
        Sat, 8 Nov 1980 Waterfront Bar and gambling
        1981 & 1982 Physics Monks or Mud Wrestling One of the years was monks with the Feynman lectures on a cross in the courtyard. The other One of the years featured mud wrestling in the skit.
        1983 Super Heros ...and mud wrestling
        1984 Edger Allen Poe And flooding the courtyard to top of Olive tree planter. When the flood waters reached the top of the steps, the SAC flooded including the student rooms down there. Interhouse had a much reduced level of water the next day.
        1985 Vikings ...and floor the courtyard
        1986 Egypt No flooding of the courtyard by Blacker. But Ricketts was flooded, and at midnight they broke their dam to "Flood the Nile".
        1987 Jungle Featuring the Disc O' Death
        1988 Space Opera Secret Cover: Death
        Nov 1989 Dungeons & Dragons, Sadism and Masichism, Castles and Catapults Secret cover: Gerbals. Last official Interhovse (only 6 Houses) until 2007.
        Spring 1991 Party-Gras a Marti-Gras type event held in Blacker and the Philipino Courtyard in lieu of Interhouse. Put on by all 7 Houses
        Fall 1991 A.A.Milne, Dr. Seus, Jim Henson and Lewis Carroll aka "Dead Children's Authors"
        Fall 1992 Brazil & 1984 From the movie and George Orwell's book
        Jan 1994 Wild West Failed attmpt with Dabney and Fleming to have Interhovse anyway
        Spring 1995 Blood on the Highway
        Spring 1996 Viking Cow Flooded courtyard and Viking ship
        Sat, 8 March 1997 Jungle With a volcano and waterfall off of 5A balcony
        Sat, 11 April 1998 Mad Scientist Though a minority built a Dabney style rave instead.
        Sat, 10 April 1999 Inferno Major flooding (to top step), boats, and dancing until 4am!!
        Spring 2000 Unknown
        Spring 2001 Unknown
        Spring 2002 Unknown
        Spring 2003 Unknown
        Spring 2004 Unknown
        Spring 2005 Unknown
        Spring 2006 Saddam's Palace
        Sat, 13 Jan 2007 Soviet Russia Submarine Dance floor, major courtyard flooding with green dye, Lenin's maseleum/bar, video monitoring, Wargames projection, snow machine.




    4. Volcano (Frosh Project 1996)
      The Blacker frosh project for 1996 was to build a volcano in the Court of Man. Due to apathy, it wasn't finished until late second term, at which point it was incorporated into Jungle Interhovse. The Volcano was a wood frame with a covering. The top had a water pool into which liquid nitrogen was poured to make smoke. Inside was the bar which had wooden platforms since the courtyard was flooded.


    5. UFO/Alien Abduction (Frosh Project 1997
      The frosh project for 1997 was to have an alien abduction of Professor Nate Lewis, the Chem 1a prof. A UFO was built and left in Millikan Pond to make it appear as though it crashed there. Dr. Lewis was "abducted" by six frosh with blue-painted faces and silvered hair near the end of his lecture. (The abduction was accompanied by sound effects and lighting in Gates 22.) It was a great success pulled off near the end of first term. Photos can be found courtesy of Kevin McCarty here.


Page last modified 22 January 2007 FAQ author: Benjamin Smith (fr: 1989, grad 1994).
version: 2.1
Last modified: 19 January 2017, Copyright 2015
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