For one night this semester, students can put down their cups of Beast and escape the crowded dance floors of the typical Saturday night fraternity party.
This weekend, hundreds of Cornellians will don tuxedoes, sip champagne, and place their bets at Alpha Delta Phi’s Victory Club, once described by Playboy Magazine as the best party in the Ivy League.
“It’s kind of the notion of being James Bond for the evening,” said fraternity president William Kendall ’02. “It really is a great event because it has something for everyone.”
Proceeds from this year’s event will benefit the Rockaways in Queens which is still reeling from the crash of American Airlines Flight 587 on Monday.
Last year, approximately 350 people attended Victory Club, which raised $800 for the Red Cross, according to Joe Lamagna ’03, Victory Club chair.
“Every year more people hear about it and more people come,” Lamagna said.
Victory Club has its roots in a fundraising effort for World War I, when fraternity members sold Victory Bonds to aid the war effort. Prohibition drove the event underground where it enjoyed success as a speakeasy.
The event has raised as much as $10,000 in some years, and has since varied in size, frequency and exclusivity.
Alpha Delta Phi received a legal gambling license in the 1970s — which has allowed it to provide Black Jack, Russian Roulette and a money wheel this weekend.
Compared to back then, “It’s a lot more organized and a lot more honest,” Lamagna said.
Tickets are $60 for couples or $35 each, and are available at the Willard Straight Hall Ticket Desk.
Starting at 9 p.m. Saturday, a limousine will take guests to and from Victory Club. Inside the fraternity, live bands Johnny Russo and Bernie Milton — “the godfather of soul in Ithaca,” according to Kendall — will entertain the crowd along with a cappella groups After Eight and the Cayuga Waiters.
“It’s a more sophisticated party,” Lamagna said, adding that part of the fun is for students to “act a little more like an adult, a little more mature.”
Alpha Delta Phi has been trying for the last two years to improve upon the event, which was canceled in 1999 due to the “general malaise” of the organizer, according to Lamagna.
“I know professors in the past have come,” Kendall said. “It’s a great party and a great cause.”
Archived article by Beth Herskovits