As a first year, I’ve heard of the hectic and wild stories of Penn’s Spring Fling, but I didn't expect the shouting and hustle of my first one to be centered on desperately searching for the Zoom link to Chloe x Halle’s performance from a stiff, red armchair in Lauder College House. Penn's annual Spring Fling was a hybrid between virtual performances and in–person giveaways. The concert spanned two weekends and featured strong performances from well–known artists such as Gryffin, Cherub, Rina Sawayama, and Louis the Child the first weekend, and Chloe x Halle, Wale, and Wizkid this past weekend.
Fling hadn’t been held since 2019, as Penn's Social Planning and Events Committee (SPEC) canceled 2020 Fling as it was slated for the early days of the COVID–19 pandemic. In lieu of an in–person event, this year's performances were broadcast through a Zoom webinar and were surprisingly high quality in terms of the audio, video, and ability to connect and socialize in the chat.
A number of first years attended this event. It was an opportunity to watch exciting performances with our pod and maybe even dance around in cramped dorm rooms and off–campus apartments. Unfortunately, a key element of Fling was always bound to be lost...the togetherness. Usually, this is one of the few opportunities for a normally overwhelmed student body to let loose and be together, but this couldn't be the case this time, especially since the concert had to be a webinar instead of a meeting, where students could see each other on their screens.
However, for many seniors, this was still a positive ending to their college concert experiences. Katie Hancin (C ’21) watched both nights of the first weekend. “As much as I would have loved to go to something in person, I think it was still pretty good … I was able to hang out with a couple friends, and we were able to get some food and watch it,” she says. For her last Fling, Katie was eager to attend and was appreciative of SPEC's work, even if it wasn't the normal experience anyone wanted.
The concert occurred in tandem with free giveaways. Locust Walk was riddled with students lugging bright blue folding chairs back to their respective homes, venturing out in overcast and gloomy weather for a semblance of a normal Fling. Serena Carson (E ’24) got to nab a chair, frisbee, mask, and blue light glasses. She says, “Going in [to pick up the giveaways] felt more like I was a student … You show your little ticket, grab your stuff, see someone you happen to know or someone from your class … I’m not just walking to the dining hall, getting my food, going back, and hanging out with my suitemates.”
While the chance of having a classic Fling weekend was impossible, the past two weekends seem to have been a generally positive experience for students, prompting seniors to reminisce on past Flings and giving first years a taste of what’s to come. Considering the direction the nation is heading towards with the vaccine rollout, I’m willing to bet that those of us here next year will be awkwardly and joyfully bumping shoulders with peers at Fling in 2022.