By Rachel Stern
After ten years of sold out shows, the Safer Sexcapades is not taking place this year at UC Santa Cruz.
"It’s on hiatus," said Jane Bogart, the coordinator of both last year’s event and Student Health and Promotion (SHOP) at UCSC. "In its current incarnation, it presented some things that were really positive, but it was also overshadowed by the challenges. Sometimes events just go year after year without seeing the original intent."
After five arrests last year for drinking at the strictly alcohol-free event as well as unwarranted photographs and videotapes, SHOP is taking time to rethink alternative solutions to the popular dance’s problems.
The Sexcapades-the brainchild of Cowell College students-started with less than 100 students. Last year’s dance held 600, all who managed to secure tickets in the two days before the event sold out. All proceeds from the event went toward HIV prevention services on campus.
With educational games, HIV testing, a "Foreplayers" dance troop, and a purposeful lack of a dress code, the event’s goal was to promote a safe and enlightening space for students to express their sexuality.
According to Edgar Nunez, a forth-year student who co-directed last year’s Foreplayers dance, the Sexcapades were about "inclusion of [people] of all shapes, sizes and ages."
Bogart, though, questioned the effectiveness of the event.
"Is this really the best way to talk about sexuality and celebrate safer sex?" Bogart said.
Many students who participated in the event in years past were pleased with both the goal and outcome of the Sexcapades.
"Any effort to get the message across is a good message because there’s so much silence," said Tarek Alameddine, a fourth-year student who participated in the Foreplayer’s 52-person floorshow.
"It’s unfortunate that for those few people [who were drinking or being disrespectful] the rest have to suffer."
Nunez, who participated in the floorshow for three years in a row, agreed with Bogart that perhaps it was time to rethink the effectiveness of aspects of the event.
"We’re trying to be as clear as possible and unfortunately the dance is pretty abstract," Nunez said. "We’re trying to get the message of safer sex and openness of sexualities, including abstinence and celibacy."
Kimberly Weber, a fourth-year who attended last year’s Sexcapades, thinks that the event is whatever the attendee makes it out to be-whether more empowering or entertaining.
"For any event, some people are going to find some meaning from it, and some are not at all," Weber said.
Bogart said she hopes to create an event that increases people’s level of comfort in using safer sex supplies and ability and confidence in asking for them. The Foreplayers, she said, are empowering but don’t adequately relay what she considers to be an educational experience.
"You can’t dance those answers," Bogart said.
She suggested a few alternatives to the Sexcapades as a whole.
"We thought of a haunted house or carnival,where people enter a vaginal canal, and touch things, feel things," Bogart said, laughing after a moment’s reflection. "Not other people’s things though…It would be more interactive."
For Meg Kobe, a UCSC health educator who coordinated the Sexcapades for three years before Bogart, the hiatus is "the right decision," she said. "We need to rethink and reenergize."
Input on the Sexcapades can be directed to SHOP at firstname.lastname@example.org or (831) 459-3772.