Tuesday, October 13, 2015

adventures in Morris: Zombie Prom.

Just last week, I told you about how my four years at the University of Minnesota Morris were quite possibly the best four years of my life. I told you that I racked up adventures and misadventures alike, and I told you that I had lots of college stories to tell.

This is one such story.

I didn't know it when I applied, but UMM (a public liberal arts school) had a reputation for being full of weird kids. (Had I known it when I applied, I would've have applied much sooner and would've spent much more time on my "tell us about yourself" essay.) The reputation was well-earned: in my time at UMM, the arts kids ruled the place. We were only vaguely aware that we had sports teams, and the athletes were so few and far between that we couldn't name one if asked. At UMM, you were judged not by your athletic prowess, but by your creativity and quirk. It was my home sweet home.

As a school for weird kids, UMM offered weird kid activities. I was a sophomore in October 2006, and zombies were just starting to be cool. UMM was quick to hop on the zombie train , and they decided to put on... Zombie Prom.

My friend Sara and I were ecstatic. We were going to go to Zombie Prom, and we were going to be the prettiest zombies at the ball. But of course, we had NOTHING to wear.

One thing you need to know about Morris is that shopping options are limited: especially if you're looking for the perfect Zombie Prom dress. At the time, Morris offered a Pamida (which has since become ShopKo), a junky consignment store (which I believe is still there), a super expensive clothing store that appeared to specialize in department store cast-offs from the early 90s, and a Salvation Army.

Guess where Sara and I went shopping?

This was the one and only time that I set foot in the Morris Salvation Army (affectionately known to the college kids as the Salvo). It was that special kind of trashy thrift store that smelled like a thousand grandmas' basements, and you felt like you had bedbugs the minute you stepped in the door. It was the perfect place for Zombie Prom dresses.

Or so we thought. What we really wanted were old prom dresses or bridal gowns that we could tear apart and douse in fake blood, but no such luck. Either the Salvation Army never had anything so nice, or other would-be zombies got to the store before we did. Our shopping trip was pretty last-minute (aka, the day of Zombie Prom), so we didn't have time to take a trip to Alexandria (45 minutes away and the home of much nicer thrift stores). We had to make do with the Salvation Army.

To make up for the lack of sartorial options, Sara and I gave our zombies personas. She was Easter Dress Zombie, and I was 80s Businesswoman Zombie. We bought our outfits and made a stop at the local Pamida for the appropriate zombie makeup. Supplies in hand, we set up shop in Sara's apartment to zombify ourselves.

Problem: we had no idea how to zombify ourselves.

We started with our outfits. Scissors in hand, we cut and chopped and ripped and tore our clothing into shreds. Armed with fake blood, we smeared the sticky liquid all over our clothes. Outfits = done.

But ahead us was a bigger problem: zombie makeup. Pamida didn't have any of those nice decaying flesh shades of green and grey, so we bought black and white. Our aim was to give ourselves a deathly pallor and top it off with quintessential dark zombie circles around our undead eyes. Yes, that was our intent... but the execution was a tad flawed. Not possessing any real zombie makeup skills meant that we looked less like brain-eating monsters and more like cute pandas.

Every good zombie needs their hair done for prom, so Sara and I curled ours all nice... and turned it grey. We found some Halloween spray-can hair dye at Pamida, so clearly we had to buy it. Because all prom-going zombies have grey hair.

The entrance fee to Zombie Prom was one canned good, so Sara and I shambled over to food service (yes, prom was held in the food service building) with our canned corn and cream of mushroom soup. We stepped in the building to find that our old familiar cafeteria had been transformed into a zombie paradise. Black garbage bags covered the floors and walls, and mist from a fog machine swirled through the air. There was even a little cemetery.

I don’t remember how long we stayed at Zombie Prom, but I remember two very specific things: 1.) this was the very first time I had seen “Thriller” performed live en masse, and 2.) Sara and I got our zombie makeup on EVERYTHING.

And that zombie makeup? REALLY hard to wash off.

Zombie Prom came around again in October 2007, when we were juniors. This time, James and I went together in fancy clothes, calling ourselves Swing Dancing Zombies. But there was something different about this Zombie Prom. The decorations were lacking, as was the population. There were no zombies dancing to “Thriller”. There were a few undead freshman roaming about, but that was it. Considering the fantastic time we had last year, Zombie Prom 2007 was a profound disappointment.

That was the last time I went to Zombie Prom. I think there was another one when I was a senior, but I had definitely aged out by that point.

Zombie popularity has exploded since that first Zombie Prom. While there are no more proms to attend, I have shambled in two Sioux Falls Zombie Walks and am planning on doing so again this year. Sadly, my zombie makeup skills have not improved in the years since Zombie Prom.

1 comment:

  1. I have worked at UMM since July 2010. I work for the Office of Residential Life and for the Student Affairs Office. When I got here, I was told that I would now be responsible for Zombie Prom. Last Saturday (Oct. 31, 2015), with the help of 54 student volunteers, I participated in my 5th Zombie Prom. We worked with another program called Halloween in the Halls, which brings community trick-or-treating on-campus. 545 local community members participated, and therefor danced at Early Zombie Prom. Later in the evening, 495 students attending Zombie Prom 2015. Leading up to Zombie Prom, UMM experiences the Zombie Prom Flag raising ceremony on Tug (currently Indy) Lake, Humans Vs. Zombies (180 participants this year), Zombie Cage Display at the Student Center, Zombie Cage Display at the Dinning Hall (both cages are meant to act as advertisements and photo booths), zombie actors that roam the campus in character, and Zombie Tag on Tug Lake. Next year is the 10th Annual Zombie Prom, and I would love to invite you to join us. Here are some photos from this year's Zombie Prom: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ummorrisstudentactivities/sets/72157660659208945 If you are interested in atending next year's Zombie Prom, please email me at rschamp@morris.umn.edu Thanks for the blog posting, Ryan Schamp