“Toga! Toga!” Carnegie After Dark goes Greek with “Animal House”

By: Sam Fatula | A&E Editor

Fred Blauth/Photo Editor - A member of the After Dark community featured in a dinosaur mask.

Fred Blauth/The Duquesne Duke – A member of the After Dark community featured in a dinosaur mask.

It has been proven time and time again; cinema has a tendency to reflect the status quo. While some movies are simply human interest or made to pique a form of entertainment, others provide a topic to think about from a personal point of view.

National Lampoon’s Animal House was one of the first films to introduce the perception of the college experience that your mom and dad never wanted you to see. Rather than embracing classes or a path to a career, Animal House welcomed elements of sex, drugs and alcohol (and togas) to provide an outlet that every up-and-coming freshman wanted to explore.

To celebrate the historic film, Carnegie’s After Dark series centralized the movie as its theme last Friday, which included costume contests, meet-and-greets with a handful of cute animals, drinks, a screening of the film and much more.

Our evening began slightly later than expected. We made our way into the Carnegie Museum at approximately 7:30 p.m., already missing the screening of Animal House, which might have explained the initial lack of attendance (or perhaps just late to class). Despite missing one of the key components of the theme, disappointment did not last for much longer, as we were greeted by one of the few animals that were around the museum. Rita the beagle was the first encounter we had with any of the animals, and definitely made the best impression. Early on in her life, she suffered from a tragic car accident that left one of her hind legs damaged permanently. As she awkwardly hopped over to where we were standing, it was impossible not to be enamored by her stride.

Fred Blauth/The Duquesne Duke - Rita the beagle was one of the many animals attendees could meet and greet.

Fred Blauth/The Duquesne Duke – Rita the beagle was one of the many animals attendees could meet and greet.

In hopes not to adopt a puppy after our After Dark venture, we figured it would be best to leave Rita soon after meeting her. This forced us on our way through the dinosaur exhibit, where the event really started to pick up. In short, attendees were taking the costume contest rather seriously. While our group came in our Sunday best attire, the rest of the men and women at After Dark donned homemade togas, putting our poor efforts at an outfit to shame. Togas of white, green, blue and many more honored the traditional scenes of Animal House exceptionally well, with some going above the ordinary by wearing a dinosaur mask over their head.

The most interesting portion of the night definitely occurred at the endangered species table, where attendees could interact with Betty White the tortoise and Dot the alligator. Although these critters were fun for a brief period of time, the party favors on the table stole the show. To hilariously promote conservation, the After Dark program passed out free condoms that had messages to prevent extinction by using protection. Yes, you read that correctly.

The pun of using animals was of huge emphasis for many of the other exhibits that were offered throughout the evening. Furs from an array of different species were on display, and people could feel what it was like to touch the tough hairs of a bear or gently pet the fur of a skunk. While perhaps not the most entertaining factor of the night, it was still nice to have something that felt enriching rather than continue to slug beers and mixed drinks the entire time.

Speaking of beers, what type of Animal- House-themed night would it have been without some form of alcohol? Although the After Dark series is specifically designed to attract an adult crowd with bars stationed on all floors of the Museum, it gave more of the feeling that I was in the movie when seeing a guy in a toga with a Pabst Blue Ribbon pounder in one of his hands. So even if some of the exhibits were considered more dull than others, it was possible to have a good experience overall accompanied with some drinks.

With PBRs in hand, our group ventured down to the fossil exhibit to do some further exploration. Again, we ran into the issue of animal related tasks such as digging for fossils and examining bacteria with microscopes. Despite these being interesting from an education perspective, it would have been nice to see more activities that could relate more to be movie, rather than put together pun-related tasks. These get dull over time, and eventually our experience relied heavily on keeping tabs on where the closest bar was.

Fred Blauth/The Duquesne Duke - A table of attendees from After Dark are spotted in makeshift togas.

Fred Blauth/The Duquesne Duke – A table of attendees from After Dark are spotted in makeshift togas.

Before we knew it, our venture for After Dark had subsided. While there were elements that made the evening great such as attendee participation by wearing costumes and adult beverages, many of the activities felt boring. Perhaps in the future the series can provide more exclusive exhibits that have never been done before that have a better connection with the movie that is highlighted. This would make for a much more enriching experience that would have people returning regardless if it is not their favorite movie. However, the time spent there supplies enough of an incentive to attend future After Dark events.

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