AirBands: A Brief History

March 3, 2022

A 2017 Old Gold & Black article included multiple quotes from sorority women who took issue with AirBands, describing it as “provocative.”

“The idea is you’re trying to impress a group of males who are judging your bodies,” Nicolette DeLorenzo told the Old Gold & Black in 2017 when she was a sophomore member of Kappa Delta. “That’s probably not how they look at it, but that’s how it’s interpreted.”

In an email sent on March 2, 2022, to members of Alpha Delta Pi, Chapter President Angela Waszkiewicz agreed with DeLorenzo’s assessment. 

In the past, the dance competitions, known as AirBands, for Derby Days got extremely out of hand,” Waszkiewicz wrote in the email, a copy of which was obtained by the Old Gold & Black. “They are held at an off-campus venue that serves alcohol, which has led to a majority of the participants and audience being drunk. The competition became extremely sexist and objectifying, especially because it was judged by the Sigma Chis themselves.”

A March 2 email sent by Kappa Delta President Hannah Wyrick and obtained by the Old Gold & Black made similar points to Waszkiewicz.

“After being given more information on the sexualization and judging of women in the Spring of 2018 and 2019 prior, [boycotting] was an easy decision to make,” Wyrick wrote. “The event involved copious amounts of alcohol and the dances were just exclusively judged by Sigma Chi men.”

Sigma Chi President Timothy Liles told the Old Gold & Black that he disagrees with characterizations of AirBands that allege female-only skits occurred or that the competition was judged exclusively by members of Sigma Chi, something he says had not happened since approximately 2014. According to a 2018-2019 edition of Sigma Chi Nationals’ “Derby Days Guide”, female-only skits and “events centered around alcohol” are both banned. Liles also said that his chapter had gotten national approval for the EX-Factor event.

In 2019, AirBands was restructured to ban “sexual” dancing, per an email obtained by the Old Gold & Black from the time period. Following this decision, Delta Delta Delta dropped out of the event.

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