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April 12, 2005

Loud Robes

Cavalier Daily (VA):

With the influx of a cappella spring concerts, each group with its own unique features, some students may be wondering about one group's idiosyncrasy in particular -- the Hullabahoos' multicolored, multi-patterned robes. When the Hullabahoos were formed in 1988, the only other male a capella group on Grounds was the Virginia Gentlemen. According to second-year College student Morgan Sword, the group wanted to sport something different from the traditional jacket and bowtie. Once they had the idea to wear robes, one of the group members' moms started to make them.

Currently, the Hullabahoos have their robes made at Mr. Hank's Fabric Store, located on Preston Ave. Once a new member is inducted, they go to the store to pick out a pattern from the hundreds of fabric options. "Mine has penguins on roller-skates with martini glasses on it," Sword said. "Sometimes people pick it to reflect their personality -- I just thought mine looked funny." Brandon Martin, a recent graduate who now works at the University Hospital but still sings with the Hullabahoos, recalled the moment he picked out the colorful polka-dot fabric for his robe. "When I was going through the fabrics to pick out my robe, I was like, 'That's the one I'm getting' -- immediately," Martin said.

With so many pattern options, ranging from bubbles to cowboy hats, everyone finds something to suit his wishes. "The coolest robe now, I think, is one of our new guys got fake snakeskin," said Carson Oliver, a third-year Commerce student and the Hullabahoos' music director. Though the robes have become one of the most recognizable characteristics of the Hullabahoos, lately there has been talk of revamping the traditional design. "Whenever we sing at gigs and people get a question to ask us, the first one is 'Why are you wearing such an ugly piece of clothing?'" Sword said. "We are thinking about maybe changing the shape of them a little bit, starting next year -- making them a little more fitted."

While outsiders may form their own opinions on the robes, the Hullabahoos themselves find the garments to be a distinctive facet of their group. Oliver mentioned he liked the "unique vibe" of them, and Martin pointed out another potential advantage to the robes. "Sometimes when the song's going badly, it's like you have a security blanket wrapped around you," Martin said, laughing. The robes have come to be one of the most distinguishing factors of the group -- one that will continue to adorn the Hullabahoos for years to come. "You get to like it, and you feel comfortable singing in it," Sword said. "I couldn't really imagine [performing] without it now."

Posted by acapnews at April 12, 2005 12:04 AM