Downhill Derby sends eccentric floats, scantily clad students down Doherty incline

The fourth annual Anti-Gravity Downhill Derby offered a ludicrous alternative to Buggy, featuring students dressed as unicorns, King Kong, mermaids, Swedish chefs, and the Pope

Xiyu Wang Apr 30, 2013

Derbies do not usually include nude people, unicorns, and King Kong. But that is because most derbies are not presented by the School of Art.

The fourth annual Anti-Gravity Downhill Derby was held on Thursday on the treacherous incline between Doherty Hall and the University Center. The derby is advertised as an alternative to the buggy races, as well as “the slowest race this side of the Mississippi.”

This description is somewhat misleading: The derby is not a race as much as it is a fashion show and parade slapped together in less than a week for the fun of it. In fact, many of the “buggies” did not end up working as expected, and some outright broke down.

Still, there were a number of funny and original carts that travelled down the Doherty incline, including Napoleon with a cannon that fired smoke, a pair of Swedish chefs, Aladdin and Jasmine rolling in a carpet, Wall Street investors on skateboards throwing money around, Miracle Whip fighting mayonnaise, a boy scout and his model airplane, a royal lion, and one person in a worm costume trying to slowly crawl down the incline.

Some of the carts were particularly impressive — in particular, one of a man in a King Kong costume raging on top of the Empire State Building, which had another man in a pilot costume riding a moving airplane at the front.

There were also a number of carts that were sea themed, including people dressed up as mermaids spitting water, a fish tank, a shark/penguin man, and Venus in a seashell in a representation of Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus. Plenty of food-themed carts, such as Oreo-cookies-and-milk and pop-tart themes, also made appearances. In one cart, four women sprayed a man with mustard and ketchup, and the words “make me a sandwich” were written on the cart.

There were also carts that seemed completely random, featuring eccentric details such as unicorns, a dancing lampshade, the tooth fairy, peanut allergies, and a baby stroller with streamers.

One cannot mention the Downhill Derby without mentioning the nudity. There were a number of carts that were downright provocative with nudity or explicit themes, including a human hamster wheel powered by clothing-phobic men, a gondola featuring the Pope caught with her pants down, and a man dressed as male genitalia in a hand. This might have led to some awkward moments for students who went to the derby with their families.

Although the derby may have been uncomfortable for some people, the main flaw of the show was not its subject matter but its pacing. While it was expected that some of the carts would break down, it was nonetheless irritating to stand around for five minutes or so waiting for a cart to work again. Some carts went by relatively quickly, but others took a great deal of time coming down the hill, mainly due to technical issues. There could have been some interesting commentary or something else to look at while the carts were being fixed.

Overall, the derby was entertaining, but not without flaws in its execution. It was a fun, wild start to Carnival that will definitely keep the campus talking for a few days.