The Alcove is the most recent in a long line of traditionalist groups at Lancaster, and also the most long-lived. It is the result of a series of evolutions and mergers between LLRT, Digiclan, and the Eishans, and first came about in 2001.
The Alcove, much like LLRT's Land of the Large Round Tables, refers not only to the group, but also to a specific dining room area—a literal alcove. It is located in the far corner of KIVO (formerly Dining Hall 1) in a small, rounded room. This room has taller tables, odd-looking lights, and differently colored walls when compared to the rest of the Dining Halls. It is usually quite lively, and has at times been singled out by RAs for failure to clean up, sitting on counters, and general rowdiness. In the mornings, when the Alcove and KIVO are closed, the Alcove has been known to sit in the entrance to the dining room on both sides. As of LAN 17.1, the Alcove is a pale, minty blue color, and has been semi-affectionately nicknamed the "dentist's office," the "fluoride zone," and the "clean-cove"
Historically, the Alcove has been characterized by its devotion to preserving and upholding Lancaster's traditions—Alcovians often numbered among the first to run up to the speakers when a Canon song was played at a dance, and were generally knowledgable about all the traditions and eager to spread that knowledge. Lancaster's oldest student positions have, since the Alcove's inception, tended to go to Alcovians. The cast of The Rocky Horror Picture Show on Second Saturday is often entirely Alcovian.
In more recent history, Alcovians often help the current Jester carry out Second Sunday Shenanigans and assist in stealing the painting from the DRL's office. They also help carry out the sacrifice of Carol the Watermelon, though many of the original sacrificers would not identify as Alcovians themselves.
- 1982: Lancaster opens as a CTY site.
- 1984.1: "Veil Law" comes into effect. Mass protests ensue.
- 1987.1: The first student group, Mattababy, takes form. The first list of songs to be played at every dance without fail, Canon, is created.
- 1991.2: The Duck, the first ever student position, is created.
- 1993.1: Land of the Large Round Tables hits its peak.
- 1994.1: Passionfruit is brought to Lancaster from Carlisle (note: The 42nd Lancaster Passionfruit occurred at LAN 15.1)
- 1995.1: The first Canon CD is burned. Digiclan reaches its peak. The wearing of bathrobes on Thursdays starts.
- 1996.1: The last members of Digiclan nomore out.
- 1997.1: XNMPDA (a student group) forms.
- 1998.1: Hard-Core Normal People, Dammit forms.
- 1998.2: Land of the Large Round Tables makes a revival.
- 1999.1: Eish, a traditionalist student group, is born.
- 2001.1: LLRT and Eish merge to form the Alcove.
- 2004: The first generation of the Alcove ends, as it goes into Exile due to Dining Hall renovations.
- 2006.2: Phil Gunn's name is added to the Beer Chant as a tribute.
- 2007.1: Emperor is divided into three positions: the Holy Trinity.
- 2008.1: Dr. Mario voted into Canon.
The Alcove has been known to gather in certain areas at certain times to discuss certain things, sometimes involving t-shirts. Meeting places included the Schnader 1 lounge, near the Electric Tree, or sometimes the Atlee/Dubbs 2 lounge. Thomas, while acting as a previous hub, remains relatively empty, as it is the new office of the administrative staff.
The Alcove of Second Session, much like the LLRT, experienced two generations by its eighth year in 2008. The first generation ended while the Alcove went into Exile while the Dining Hall completed its renovation. This first generation had a member demographic notably different from the successive generation and was essentially a separate social circle. Perhaps as a result of its Exile and the conjugal loss of a findable location, the Alcove became very exclusive and limited in size. It was criticized, notably by Michael Nixon, then-Devil, but also by various Anti-Alcove groups, for having become too elitist. The second generation of the Alcove, beginning in 2005, returned to being a group of friends, most of whom happened to share a reverence for tradition. Due to its increased discoverability, the Alcove expanded rapidly after 2005, peaking at some 70 members in 2007 (the previous Alcove peaked at less than 40 members), and its new members remembered only the "new guard," beginning with Will Colmer and Michael Nixon.
In 07.2, the southernmost section of the Dining Hall was sealed off for Kosherization. As such, the Alcove became unreachable. Alcovians met at meals in the corner of Dining Hall 2. The death of the Alcove gave rise to a mourning session (and to the 2007 T-shirt). Among other things, Alcovians considered relocation and renaming, to things such as the Kalcove (Kosher-Alcover), the Nalcove (not-Alcove or new-Alcove), or something else. In 2008, it turned out that "something else," namely, returning to the reopened Alcove, was the best option. Due to the bulk of members, the Alcove in 2008 became socially segmented into a further two or three separate social groups, although by 2009, due to the loss of so many nomores, the divisions largely massed into a single Alcove again, ushering in the Alcove's third generation.
The Alcove once boasted a sign hanging outside that read "Game Corner," which inspired the 06.2 t-shirt. In 2006, it also has many food-based posters, which inspired the following inside joke:
- ALL HAIL THE ISLAND COCONUT CHICKEN!!!
These posters were replaced with posters espousing the values of veganism, organic, kosher, etc. when KIVO was born in 08.1.
The Alcove's history since 2010 is not well-documented.
The First Session Alcove also experienced three generations in the same timeframe as Second Session, albeit at a faster pace. Because Anti-Alcove groups were much more prominent during First Session, notably in 04.1 and 06.1, the second generation Alcove, beginning in the same year as that of Second Session, ended prematurely after 2006. Although some individuals recalled past Alcovians, much of this memory and the "lineage" of positions (of which there were far fewer than Session 2) was lost. Thus, the Session 1 Alcove began its third generation in 2007, as evidenced by the creation of the Trinity.
Over time, the Alcoves of the two sessions have diverged in a number of ways; among them:
- Session 1 lacks Monty Python Madness and never had an Ultimate Contact List of DOOOM!!
- Only Session 1 has the Dr. Mario Dance in its Canon; meanwhile, Session 2 retained Rock Lobster.
- The two sessions have different Afterdance lineups (albeit with substantial overlap).
- The two sessions have different Trinities, and different positions in general.
- Session 1 is said to be more familial, while Session 2 is said to be rowdier and more incestuous.
The Alcove has, throughout its history, experienced various degrees of contention from other groups of students. Complaints about the Alcove tend to fall into two broad categories: that the group is too exclusive, or that its influence over tradition is too strong. Since the makeup and feel of the Alcove has varied greatly over time, the validity of such criticisms has as well.
The exclusivity of the Alcove has been criticized by its own members—notably in 04.2 and in 08.1, but certainly in other years and sessions as well. While at times in the Alcove's history, elitism has indeed and truly run high, at other times (such as in 08.1), these internal musings on exclusivity have been a consequence of committing the first of the Five Geek Social Fallacies. For the most part, charges of exclusivity in the Alcove conflate the role served by the Alcove (i.e., upholding traditions) with its composition (i.e., a group of friends)—the latter of which is intrinsically exclusive, since friendship is a selective relationship. This awkward confusion was poignantly exemplified in the interaction that occurred each time a CTYer approached an Alcovian about the annual Alcove t-shirt: The CTYer would hear in response, "I mean, it'll just be a shirt with the names of a bunch of people you don't know..."
Accusations of the Alcove monopolizing tradition also have different interpretations, depending on the role the Alcove in that day and age was taking in tradition. During some years and sessions, the Alcove merely upheld and practiced tradition with zeal. In these eras, complaints about the Alcove having too much power over tradition were likely the consequence of shameless egotism—in particular, a desire to "leave a mark" in the same way that, say, the Holder of the Duck might do via the physical Legend of the Duck. This was often accompanied by the creation of new traditions or positions, which frequently (though not always) failed to pass the test of time. In other generations of the Alcove, the Alcove itself was responsible for the profusion of new positions, leading to questions about its authority in regard to being able to leave a lasting legacy.
Finally, some individuals, such as the original Anti-Alcove, have criticized the Alcove's members for working to preserve tradition at all—instead opting to promote their own actions. Beyond any egotism involved, these criticisms are harder to measure, since they reflect a fundamental difference in approach towards the CTY experience—the Alcove's traditionally being that the existence of tradition adds an (optional) depth of richness to the CTY experience.
For a majority of sessions, and a majority of individual Alcovians, however, the Alcove has been a group of friends who strove only to demonstrate and incite new passion for traditions, and the feeling of connection, both to fellow CTYers and to CTYers past, that they provided—but the Alcove is certainly not perfect, and like any group of people, will always have those who act in bad faith.
In 04.1, a group of people was formed who were opposed to the idea of having a unified group at Lancaster (The Alcove) that seemed to have "control over tradition" and was too exclusive. They disrupted traditional activities, such as interrupting "Oh L'Amour" by running onto the pavement and doing the chicken dance where people were sitting. They also started the practice of going into the centers of the circles formed for all the slow Canon songs, a practice that has largely died out with their group.
The Alcove, in response to the allegations made by the Anti-Alcove, discussed the situation, both among themselves and at an activity period which was open to all. Many people agreed that the Alcove seemed to be exclusive, though most still did not agree with how the Anti-Alcove handled their grievances, finding it disrespectful toward all those who wanted to participate in and to enjoy traditions. The acts of the Anti-Alcove and their general existence is one of the reasons why the Alcove was not as prominent in 05.1 and 06.1, and is also thought to have played a prominent role in the First Session Alcove diverging from the Alcove of Second Session, which experienced less disruption.
Anti-Alcoves have also existed during 06.1, 08.1, and 08.2, although these groups were not as prominent as the original. Dharun Ravi was a member of one of these groups.
There was some Anti-Alcove sentiment from 13.1-15.1, despite efforts by some Alcovians to further dismantle the exclusivity and negative connotations of the Alcove. This sentiment did not give birth to an actual revival of the Anti-Alcove, however.
"The Alcove is Dead" (mostly session 1 specific)
Beginning in 10.1, some Alcovians began to feel that CTY tradition was degenerating over the years, as fewer students returned to pass on those traditions and the number of squirrels each session increased. As a result, the Alcove strove to become a place for welcoming in squirrels to learn about tradition—a contrast to the past, where its members spread knowledge of tradition primarily through eager personal participation in them.
This sentiment of "adopting" squirrels would stick, for better or worse. In many cases, this resulted in wonderful friendships being formed between onemores/nomores and squirrels where tradition was passed on and people had loads of fun in general. In other cases, the relationship became very forced, and nearly resembled cult initiation. Some of these friendships were inherently abusive during the idea's first couple years of inception.
Due to the increasing number of students on campus and the resulting changing social dynamics, more positions were passed down to those who didn't always sit in the alcove. In fact, starting in 12.1, certain position holders like some sons (Eli, Zoe, Ryan) and jesters (Sam, Jamin, D-Rock) were more likely to be found outside of the alcove during mealtime. As a result, the alcove became more and more just a place where people who like tradition and were often involved in it sat. The phrase "The Alcove is Dead" would be heard both offline and online towards the end and after 13.1 in light of these recent developments, much to the chagrin of certain alcovians.
In essence, as of 14.1, position-holders are more the ones that maintain traditions, and in many cases are separate from the alcove. The Alcove still has a voice in how traditions are run, however this is more due to the density of the number of people who are into traditions in the alcove.
Given the number of students at Lancaster currently, this is a more sustainable approach, as it ensures that those who make friends with those outside of the alcove can still help carry out traditions even if they chose to sit with a different group of friends for a majority of their time at CTY.
Auxiliary Alcove Locations
Teh Corner is a circular table booth adjacent to the Alcove which was first inhabited and recognized at Lancaster in 05.1. The "Teh" in its name was intentionally created by Nathan (whose last name escapes me) and is not a misspelling. (Teh Corner is also known as "The Stripper Booth" in Session One.)
People who sat at Teh Corner do not consider themselves a group like the Alcove. Teh Corner refers to the actual location; those that sit there often consider themselves Alcovians, or are unwitting non-Alcovians who quickly get sucked in. They choose to sit at Teh Corner due to its more intimate feel than the Alcove, as it is one central table as opposed to many smaller ones (although in 08.2 some people took to pushing tables together in the Alcove to form one larger one). Teh Corner was often crammed with nine or more people sitting on each others' laps, or up above Teh Corner's booth, adopting the catch phrase "There's always room at Teh Corner," though RAs disapproved due to the PDA that occurred.
Originally, "Teh Corner" served as the gathering place of the Greeklings, but as they made friends, the ranks swelled until additional tables were dragged over to increase the carrying capacity of Teh Corner, much to the dismay of RAs and SRAs who enforced the no-moving-furniture policy.
Teh Corner has a reputation as being incredibly noisy, often staging sing-a-longs. In 06.1, this caused a significant amount of strife as the site leaders ate their meals adjacent to Teh Corner. This prompted a crack-down on the moving furniture rules, despite the fact that the tables were always returned to their positions after meals, and limits on the number of people who could be squeezed into Teh Corner. Nevertheless, these rules were rarely followed.
In fact, it is frequently said that the Alcove died for Session 1 in 05.1, and Teh Corner was born (out of the remains of the Alcove). The 06.1 "Alcove Shirt" is a diagram of Teh Corner.
Even during Second Sessions, some Alcovians choose to sit outside the actual Alcove (which can hardly fit its bulging populace), tending instead to squeeze into this built-in table and semi-circular seat right outside, dubbed "the Corner." While its location is the same as that of Teh Corner, it is spelled slightly differently. "The Corner" is also commonly referred to as "Alcove overflow" and has grown to encompass the selection of small tables between the corner and the alcove.
The TARDIS is the booth in the corner opposite Teh Corner. It acquired this name after 12 people managed to sit in the "booth" portion of it in 13.1. It is fabled to be capable of containing the entirety of the multiverse, although that has never been attempted, and, subsequently, never accomplished.
The Land of the Large Round Tables
The Land of the Large Round Tables is the dining room diametrically opposite the Alcove, found by strafing far to the right upon entering the dining hall. This was the former home of LLRT, but was closed sometime in the early 2000's. In 2009, due to an increase in site population, some Alcovians, most noticeably three or more members of the Trinity, chose to sit in this dining area instead of the Alcove. In the LLRT, the tables are larger and can hold many more people then the small Alcovian tables, which promotes greater discussion as well as greater tossing of duct tape and salt shakers. Since 2007, this has been the location of the Last Supper, which was previously held in the dining room entrance area. For Second Session 2010, however, LLRT was occupied by students from other camps for much of the session, and was unavailable for use by CTYers.
At least in session 1, it is seen as significantly less shameful to be an alcovian. everyone is accepted into the alcove and it is a happy place. everyone gets in trouble for pda (even if they were just sharing a seat)
- Science may be described as the art of systematic over-simplification. The Alcove (no longer in Exile) is located here.