From 1950s to 2020s, Sing throughout the years

This year, Baylor has hosted All-University Sing for it's 69th year. Photo illustration by Brittany Tankersley

By Ana Ruiz Brictson | Staff Writer

All-University Sing has maintained significant traditions throughout its 69 years of production. Alumni shared some of the differences they have noticed across time.

Krista Howell, assistant dean of undergraduate programs and 1985 Delta Delta Delta Sing Chair, said compared to now, her experience was different in some aspects.

One difference Howell said she noticed is the number of Sing chairmen each organization has. When she was chair, there were only two people responsible for the leadership within the organization.

“The sorority basically picked the head person, and then you would pick somebody to help you,” Howell said. “Now, it looks like they’ll have four and five and six people to split up the load. That’s one of the biggest differences.”

Another difference Howell said she noticed is the number of people who participate in each organization.

“The sororities are so much larger than they were back then, so you didn’t have nearly as many people out on that stage,” Howell said.

One of the traditions several organizations continue to this day is a signature move.

Russell Beard, 1970s Kappa Omega Tau (KOT) member, participated in both Sing and Pigskin for three years during his time at Baylor.

“The KOTs back before when I was there had a dance move that wasn’t difficult to do or anything, but became known as the KOT Turn,” Beard said.

Cole Croce, Southlake senior and current KOT Sing chair, confirmed the fraternity will include the KOT Turn in its performance this year.

Croce has participated in Sing since his sophomore year and said he has noticed a change due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think there’s such a greater appreciation for it,” Croce said. “It was a little bit easier to lose sight of the fun you were getting behind with it, where I feel like this year, since we didn’t get to do it last year, there was such a spark in all of the guys.”

One difference Beard said he noticed throughout his years in Sing was the selection of material in the costumes.

“By the time I got to Baylor, most of the costumes were double net, which of course caught the light and reflected it and everything,” Beard said. “And prior to the invention of double net, the clubs had all danced in Roth cloth.”

David McDaniel, 1989 KOT chairman, said one difference that he noticed was the length of acts. During the late 1960s, acts would last up to 12 or 13 minutes. When McDaniel participated in the 1980s, acts would be approximately 11 minutes long. Today, acts can only last a maximum of seven minutes.

Both Howell and McDaniel said Sing has always been a very competitive scene where everyone’s goal is to win and move forward to Pigskin.

“You didn’t want to be the Sing chairman that didn’t make Pigskin,” McDaniel said. “Much less, you wanted to win. You wanted to beat all the fraternities and sororities — so lots of pressure.”

Howell said that when she participated in Sing, there were no awards other than making Pigskin.

“So if you didn’t make it, you just didn’t get anything for it,” Howell said. “So it’s evolved a lot. It’s good because, for the amount of time that you put in, it’d be nice to be awarded something.”

Howell said that during her years at Baylor, she noticed a pattern of men usually winning Sing.

“Normally back then, the guys’ acts won,” Howell said. “I think part of that was, first of all, they were louder, and secondly, you weren’t used to seeing guys dance.”

Samuel Kaestner, 2016 Alpha Tau Omega (ATO) member, said everyone in the fraternity takes Sing very seriously.

“You wouldn’t expect a bunch of fraternity guys to take singing and dancing so seriously,” Kaestner said. “But I think because it’s such a unique thing and it’s such a rich Baylor tradition, the members understood how significant it was and they could let their guards down.”

David Henry, current ATO adviser, said he has been an adviser for 17 years and has seen several changes in the last few years.

One of the changes Henry said he noticed is the new rule adopted around three years ago focusing on safety, according to which groups are only allowed to have up to 200 people on stage.

Henry also said Sing skill levels get higher every year.

“The choreography is ever more complex,” Henry said. “The energy levels are more complex — the complexity of the story, of the props and all of that.”

Henry also said if students are planning to be involved in Sing, they should understand that it is a major commitment but that it is very rewarding and a memory that most members take with them for the rest of their lives.