“Hot in […]

So hot in here […]

Hot in […]

It’s getting hot in here (so hot).”

Nelly’s lyrics echoed through Wilson Commons as the surprise began. Ten students in red clothing quickly swarmed Hirst Lounge, finding their victim underneath the Amur corktree.

“Come on man, it was sweet and thoughtful,” senior Grace Speller said, looking back on the experience by the blue couches with the sunset shining through the Wilson Commons windows. They were simply “stripping in a non-sexual way,” she assured her friend, attempting to convince them that the performance was amusing rather than embarrassing. She didn’t have much luck.

“It was traumatizing,” her friend with dark hair said, as he shook his head from side to side. “I was not prepared to see a grown man start throwing it back at me.”

After Hours is a UR a cappella group that annually serenades students and faculty on campus to celebrate Valentine’s Day. As they run in to perform a verse and chorus of a song like “What Makes You Beautiful” by One Direction, they quickly analyze the reaction of their serenade victim, continuing to sing whether they’re embarrassed or clap along. “It’s like a sneak attack; you come in, you sing, and then you run away,” first-year and After Hours member Caitlyn Halpern said.

One sneak attack began on the Fauver Stadium sideline as the Women’s Lacrosse team walked between drills. Suddenly, an a cappella version of a One Direction song broke out, and 10 After Hours singers swarmed Assistant Coach Megan Henderson, forming a circle with the help of fellow a cappella group, the YellowJackets.

“At first I was laughing, like nervous laughing, and then I was like, I can’t laugh during this, they’re so good.” 

A new core memory for second-year coach Henderson, a video of the girls singing and clapping along as Henderson stands in the center of the circle is the most recent post featured on the Women’s Lacrosse Instagram account. Ch

This serenade being set on Fauver Field was a rare occurrence. Location requests could be made at a table After Hours set up in Wilson Commons. The more popular location choices were the Pit, iZone library, and the Starbucks lounge. Once the students chose their location, they selected a song. The wide range of rendition options for this Valentine’s Day included “Hot in Herre” by Nelly, “Put Your Head On My Shoulder” by Paul Anka, “Gives You Hell” by The All-American Rejects, and “What Makes You Beautiful” by One Direction.

“We did really well this year,” Halpern said when asked about how many serenades they booked. After Hours serenades set a record with 37 orders this year, performing a serenade approximately every 15 minutes spread across three days. 

Texts and direct messages streamed into the After Hours Instagram and to members of the a cappella group at the beginning of February, asking when serenades would be open for purchase. 

High expectations were now set. Knowing they’d have to live up to UR students’ excitement, After Hours opened Monday, Feb.12 as a third option for serenades alongside the usual dates of Tuesday, Feb. 13 and Wednesday, Feb. 14. 

As serenade sales began to grow, senior John Scharf said to the group, “Let’s just go for as many as we possibly can.” What were they raising money for? Booking Upper Strong Auditorium for their shows.

Serenades were $12 per order this year –– slightly more than last year’s $10, to account for donating half of the proceeds to the Bethany House for Women’s Shelter here in Rochester. Proceeds previously stayed in-house and went towards recording a new album, reserving Upper Strong, booking a photographer for their show, and ordering newly designed merchandise.

Donating some of the proceeds was an idea researched and voted on by members of the club. Scharf said they wanted to find a local charity that didn’t receive government funding. 

“It’s not part of our mission statement to donate all of our money, but it’s also not part of our mission statement to not donate, so might as well,” Scharf said.

Scharf and Halpern suspect that the donation aspect of the serenades this year helped to boost serenade orders and promote the club itself. Although their serenades are very different from their performances, the surprise attacks are unique to their group.

“It’s really cool that we are the only group that does this. It’s like our one little special thing that just After Hours does — it gives us a little bit of clout,” Halpern said. 

The more the group performs, the more the spontaneous gig feels like second nature. Despite feeling nervous, confused, and embarrassed during the first few public serenades, Scharf describes it as a force orchestrated by the students, an organizational event that has the feeling of the University backing it.

“The first few times you do it, it’s like, ‘Am I really going to make a fool of myself in public, and just run out in the middle of Hirst Lounge and start singing at someone?’”

“It’s intimidating your first time,” Halpern said, nodding her head in agreement. “You feel like everyone is staring at you.”

“And then John starts taking his shirt off and it’s like, oh ok I’m not the center of attention anyway,” Scharf said sarcastically about himself –– although he wasn’t wrong. Scharf is the soloist for the song “Hot in Herre” by Nelly, which Halpern describes as their most seductive song. 

Although comfort is a factor with the singers themselves, it’s also important to pay attention to how comfortable the person being serenaded is about being the center of attention.

This is especially essential with a song like “Hot in Herre,” Scharf said. If people aren’t appreciative, it’s probably best that the After Hours singers continue their practice of quickly scattering after completing the serenade.

For example,  Speller’s friend was extremely surprised by the serenade and leaned toward describing it as a negative experience. “I was told I was gonna have a serious talk, so I came here in a serious mindset,” he said. Needless to say, After Hours’ performance was anything but serious.

The group has to be wary not to cross any comfort lines, which is why Scharf has a rough system in place. 

“If one of my friends ordered it because they know me, then I’ll like get up close to them, put my hand on their shoulders or something,” he said. “But if it’s like some random person, then I’ll keep a very nice amount of space between us and just, you know, take my coat off seductively.”

When deciding who should sing such a forward song, “this one was a special case,” Scharf said, because he was the best person to sing “Hot in Herre.” The rest of the group agreed, having voted him in as soloist for his second year on the track. 

The other members of After Hours made several jokes referring to Scharf’s dramatic tendencies, teasing him that it’s $3 extra for a shirt removal, and another $3 for a lap dance, and, of course, $6 extra for both. They all agreed that $5 for both as a discount opportunity would have been a good idea, and then they all laughed.

While waiting to run off to the next serenade, After Hours collected in the Ruth Merrill Center in the basement of Wilson Commons, their backpacks and coats flung across the blue couches. During their 15-minute break, they drank a little water, checked their phones, offered each other German chocolate, and took over each other’s seats. They complimented each other on their outfits, congratulated each other on chemistry exam scores, and even surprised each other by serenading one of their own group members.

Despite loving to serenade, they don’t love being serenaded.

Standing up from the couches in the Ruth Merrell Center, they stealthily walked towards the Students Association (SA) office to sing their perfected version of “What Makes You Beautiful” once more, continuing their streak of serenades for the day.

Simultaneously surprised and non-surprised looks filled the faces of the SA members in attendance as their president, junior Daniel Pyskaty, was surrounded by the sneak attack of song. 

After Hours hopes to remain the only group on campus that holds these holiday-specific performances, as it is now their unique and annual tradition.

“We’re the best group to do it, because we’re the sexiest group on campus,” Scharf and Halpern said at the same time.

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