Wednesday, February 23, 2011
COLLEGE CLUBHOUSE: Greyhound Lounge
Energy, enthusiasm, a little showmanship, and an adequate grasp on lyrics- that's all we ask. Put all of these together, and you've got yourself a memorable Greyhound Lounge performance. The crowd goes crazy, you're bombarded with atta-boy's and high-5's, and you proudly strut your way back to your seat, relieved and ready to enjoy the rest of the show.
Fail to put forth your best effort? You won't like where you're headed.
During my four years of college ball, Greyhound Lounge was annually one of our most anticipated team traditions. As the event drew nearer, we'd analyze which freshmen we thought would shine, and, of course, which ones would tank- which ones would think they were better than they actually were, and which guy would use his time behind the mic to finally bust out of his shell.
It was hazing in its most innocent form- and every year the stage was set for a new crop of singers to have their moment.
The day of the event is usually arranged for the first long bus ride of the season. The team loads onto the bus- the upperclassmen loose and excited, the freshman and newcomers looking more like they're walking into a final exam- and then, it begins.
As everyone gets settled in, a team captain who will serve as emcee checks the bus driver's microphone and welcomes everyone to the newest installment of Greyhound Lounge. He then sets the ground rules:
- Anybody present who has never previously performed during Greyhound Lounge will be forced to sing. This includes: freshmen, transfers, guys who are new to the travel team, and any newbies on the staff (coaches, trainers, media personnel, and managers).
- Singers must be prepared to sing an entire song of their choice.
- Duets and group performances are permitted, but will be held to a higher standard.
- At any point, the crowd can applaud and show their collective approval: at this time you may finish your performance and make your way back to your seat to enjoy the rest of the show.
- However, at any point during the performance, the crowd may also begin a "Shitter!" chant, voicing their immense disappointment and sending the performer immediately to the little bathroom squeezed in the back corner of the bus (which you hope hasn't been used yet).
- If sent to the shitter, you must remain there for the entire ride, regardless of how many people are crammed in there. Your only way out is to take another shot at your song (or perhaps a different song) and win the crowd's approval. You are allotted as many attempts as necessary to put forth a respectable performance- but be aware that the audience grows restless after a couple of failures.
After the rules are in place, the emcee will ask if any upperclassman would like to come up and show the freshmen how it's done. This performance is usually short but sweet- used mainly as a teaching tool to emphasize the effort, energy and type of song choice expected from a great performance. After that intro, performances begin on a volunteer basis, and the pressure is on.
Greyhound Lounge has produced some classic performances; it's really a chance to let your creativity shine- just let loose. Regardless of what type of voice you have, the guys that have brought the house down are the ones that put their fear and nerves aside and just had fun with it.
Songs from movies have been a mainstay over the years- we've seen the Step Brothers rendition of "Sweet Child of Mine," the R-rated "Total Eclipse of the Heart" from Old School, and who could forget the remake of the dinner scene from The Break-Up?
My teammates have performed everything from "Bohemian Rhapsody" to "Mama Said Knock You Out." We've seen R. Kelly mash-ups followed by the Beastie Boys' "Intergallactic" - classics like "This is How We Do It" and duets like SNL's "Dick in a Box."
Then there are the popular songs reworked with original lyrics- a custom version of "These are My People" incorporated some great team jokes, and there was even a spin on a Train classic during a bus ride to Charlottesville- this time, "Beat Virginia"
We've even heard some kids who have legitimately good voices- who would have known?
Regardless of song choice, energy level reigns supreme on the judging scale. No freshman wants to get up in front of their team and embarrass themselves- after all, the only thing more terrifying than speaking in front of a crowd is singing in front of a crowd. But still, you accept the task, respect the tradition, and give it your all.
Similar to our Bod-Offs, Greyhound Lounge was a tradition that helped our team grow and get to know each other on a different level. It was an initiation of sorts, something you needed to get through whether you enjoyed it or not.
You respect the path taken by those before you, and you look forward to the day when you're sitting out in the audience passing judgment on poor freshmen.
But for now, you sing.