Category Archive 'The Whiffenpoofs'

02 Feb 2018

Whiffenpoofs (and the Senior Girls Imitation Group) Go Totally PC

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Not a satire. This is from today’s Yale Daily News:

Breaking with more than a century of tradition, the Whiffenpoofs and Whim ’n Rhythm, Yale’s all-male and all-female senior a capella groups, announced on Thursday that this year both groups will consider accepting singers of all genders.

According to a joint announcement posted on Facebook, Whim ’n Rhythm will from this point on describe itself as, “SSAA,” — or Soprano I and II and Alto I and II — rather than all-female, while the Whiffenpoofs will use the label “TTBB,” or Tenor I and II, Baritone and Bass. The statement called these terms “more informative of the art [they] create” and “more inclusive” to members past, present and future, especially those who identify as transgender, gender nonbinary and gender nonconforming.

“Instead of talking about the membership of the group, [we want to] talk about the people who make that type of music,” said Kenyon Duncan ’19, the music director of the Whiffenpoofs. “We’re trying to make this as much about the music and ease gender boundaries.”

The statement also announced a series of changes designed to close the “gap in opportunity” between the two organizations. The Whiffenpoofs, well-established in the world of a cappella, take a year off from school to tour the world, while the much newer Whim ’n Rhythm tours internationally only during the summer and performs locally throughout the year. Whim ’n Rhythm also brings in significantly less revenue than do the Whiffenpoofs — during fiscal year 2013, for example, Whim ’n Rhythm’s earnings amounted to less than a quarter of the Whiffenpoofs’.

With these changes, the announcement said, the two groups hope to “more explicitly link” together as two performing bodies representing the same Yale senior class.

Next year, both the Whiffenpoofs and Whim ’n Rhythm classes of 2019 will have the option to take a leave of absence or remain enrolled at Yale, with rehearsal, performance and tour schedules defined by each future class of singers. And the groups’ operations will become more cohesive in the future, through a joint website with shared booking information and closer integration of the two groups’ business teams. The statement also expressed a commitment to expanding the SATB — of Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass — repertoire so that Whim and the Whiffs can more often perform together on campus and for clients.

The joint decision to go all-gender as well as to implement the set of changes announced resulted from a prolonged conversation among all 28 members of the Whiffenpoofs and Whim ’n Rhythm classes of 2018 over the past six months about how to make senior a cappella at Yale more equitable.


21 Dec 2008

“Pass and Be Forgotten With the Rest”

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The Whiffenpoofs of 2005 at Mory’s

Old Blues thought it was depressing when the Yankee Doodle closed last January.

Well, things can get worse.

When students return after winter break, Mory’s, beset like General Motors with overly generous union contracts precluding any prospect of profitability, will have shut down, possibly permanently.

Mory’s, a 19th century bar and hangout of Yale undergraduates, upon the retirement of its beloved proprietor Louis Linder in 1912, was purchased by alumni, moved bodily from Temple Street (where it was in the way of development) to a new location on York Street, and transformed into a private club.

Yale undergraduates became eligible to purchase life memberships upon arriving at the dignity of Sophomore year. Membership was restricted in the first half of the last century to the rich, white, and Protestant, but by the 1950s, all Yale undergraduates were admitted.

Mory’s made permanent enemies of a large number of its members in the early 1970s when its board levied an unprecedented assessment intended to pay legal fees for resistance to coeducation. Yale had coeducated its student body in 1970. If you didn’t pay your assessment, Mory’s revoked your membership. A lot of Yale alumni did not support the males-only membership policy, or objected to an assessment they had no opportunity to vote on, and refused to pay.

Back in the 1970s, the union made Mory’s close in the early evening, shortening work hours, but permanently ending late night undergraduate conviviality and reducing business.

The rise of Puritanism and Paternalism more recently restored the 21 year old drinking age, reduced to 18 in the days of the Boomer generation’s youth. National attention was increasingly directed by the media to undergraduate mishaps resulting from alcohol, and the Yale administration and the police responded by stepping up enforcement of underage drinking prohibition.

It’s not easy making a go of it as an alleged undergraduate club, if you don’t let most undergraduates drink. Yale bureaucrats and urban haute bourgeoisie in provincial and decaying New Haven are not adequate as a replacement customer base, and the fatal influence of bien pensant liberal politics gave away the farm to the waiters’ union years ago.

The Yale Daily News talks about “updating,” “modernizing,” and getting into step with the spirit of the age, but the handwriting of doom has been overlaying undergraduate graffiti on the oak panelling in the old Temple Bar for years.


In memory of the old Mory’s, listen to Rudy Vallee (Y 1927) singing The Whiffenpoof Song 3:13 video

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