On Wednesday night, we joined in with the many students making the semesterly migration to Main Stacks in the hopes of experiencing something quintessentially and almost excruciatingly Berkeley: the naked run. Every semester during RRR week, fearless UC Berkeley students shamelessly streak through our main library as we less courageous folk line the walls and cheer them on. It’s a gorgeous sight. Everything flops and jiggles around in slow motion as onlookers and participants alike celebrate the freedom we enjoy on this campus to be exactly who we wish to be.
We arrived in Main Stacks 30 minutes early to catch the event on The Daily Californian’s Snapchat account (don’t worry, we only showed asses, no faces). There was a quiet calm around the halls of Floor C — the quiet before the storm — until around 8:45 p.m., when people started to migrate in droves to the spiral staircase. Hundreds of students gathered up their laptops and study materials, many fearing that they would be stolen in the confusion and hurriedly found prime viewing spots. Not one person seemed to actually know where the runners would be coming from. We had received information earlier in the day that they would be entering through the Moffitt entrance on Floor C, so we set up right around there.
It was like sitting in a restaurant waiting for your food to come out. You’ve been waiting for 20 minutes, you’re unbelievably hungry for what you’re about to receive and every clothed person that comes through the Moffitt entrance teases your impatience. The noise of the crowd escalated around 8:50 p.m. from an antsy, low buzz to an irritable uproar as the crowd grew increasingly restless. But, when that first wave of runners finally burst through the hallway, we exploded into cheers and all previous annoyance was forgotten.
So they ran and they ran, until they couldn’t run anymore, which was around 30 seconds later because the hallways became so clogged up with naked and clothed students alike that the procession came to a standstill for around 15 minutes. So there we all were, standing ass-to-crotch, glancing around trying to look anywhere but the penis gently swinging beside our left hand. This wasn’t so much a naked run as a naked meet-and-greet. The luster and magic of the previous 30 seconds faded fairly quickly as the runners realized just how many cameras were flashing, documenting their bits on Snapchat and Instagram. (To be clear, the Daily Cal understands our part in the documentation of the event, but we made sure to preserve the anonymity of the runners in our efforts to provide coverage of campus events). Instead of feeling like the liberating exercise it is, the run began to seem like a spectacle, solely for the enjoyment of the onlookers — the runners like zoo animals trapped on the winding staircase of Main Stacks. There was nowhere to go, nowhere to hide and nothing to cover themselves with.
We spent the next 15 minutes of our short, short lives in a sweaty, highly uncomfortable waiting period, silently praying that the universe would deliver us from this moist nightmare. And it did, to the wishful cries of “take off your clothes.” And as we chanted, we watched the naked runners go, presumably to hit the books themselves.
The naked run is such a highly anticipated event that it seems frankly unreasonable that there wouldn’t be hundreds of people wishing to document it and prove their attendance. But the atmosphere of the crowd wasn’t excitement in the face of a bold, counter-culture “fuck you” to the administration, but rather excitement at the prospect of putting videos of naked butts on their Snapchat stories.
So, maybe, next semester we can restore the brilliance and exclusivity of witnessing the naked run. Perhaps we can respect the people who put themselves and their bodies on the line and respect the history and legacy of this most classic of Berkeley events.
Check out our favorite Twitter round-up from the event here.
Sasha Ashall is the blog editor. Contact Sasha Ashall at [email protected].