February 2004 (v6 i4)
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Circuit party not what EE student had in mind
by Ryan B. Martinez, Associate Editor

AUSTIN — Electrical engineering sophomore Raymond Moloney was stunned Saturday night to learn that a social event described by a flier as a "circuit party" had nothing to do with electrical engineering at all.

"I was hoping to find an informal environment where I could talk about analog-digital interactivity with like-minded people," said Moloney. "Instead I found myself in a place where everyone looked like they were from those Interactive Male commercials that make me uncomfortable."

Moloney first saw the brightly colored flier on a campus kiosk earlier in the week while on his way from an Engineers Without Frontiers meeting. After reading the phrase "Carnivale Electronique: a circuit party," he took note of the date and location of what he thought would be an off-campus mixer for engineering students.

"I was just looking for a chance to meet some tech geeks like me, even if they were French," said Moloney, who mistakenly assumed that the circuit party was intended for foreign EE majors studying abroad in the United States. "Y'know - getting the chance to know my classmates in a non-classroom setting. Maybe even be able to have a conversation or three about Tron!"

The first hint that the party wouldn't meet Moloney's expectations came when he arrived at the given address to find an unmarked doorway built into the wall of an I-35 underpass. Upon entering, he discovered a dizzying scene in which throngs of half-naked men danced beneath strobe lights to the sound of booming house music, Moloney said.

"It was like Alice falling into the rabbit hole," he said. "Only instead of not believing in good sense, these people didn't believe in shirts."

He added: "Also, there were fewer girls at this party than there were at the EE get-togethers I've been to. I wasn't sure that was possible."

Despite evidence to the contrary, Moloney clung to the idea that the spectacle before him was an unusually ostentatious party for engineering students. He was forced to reconsider, however, when a silver-painted drag queen wearing 2-foot-tall platform shoes stepped out onto the dance floor and, using a rhinestone-encrusted torch, breathed giant jets of fire into the crowd.

"Welcome to the Carnivale Electronique, motherfuckers!" exclaimed the eight-foot-tall drag queen. "Mingle if you're single! And if you're not, share what you got!"

Moloney commented: "It was at about that point when I realized that probably no one in that hall would want to talk to me about Tron."

He remained frozen in befuddlement until a conga line of oil-lathered men tried to incorporate him into their dance while the house DJ played "The Bunny Hop (Kylie Minogue Mix)".

"I used to love model trains when I was a kid," said Moloney. "It's what set me on the path to becoming an electrical engineer. But now whenever I hear the phrase 'model train,' I can't help but think of those JC Penney underwear models motioning at me to join them in their conga line."

Although he fled the party immediately afterward, Moloney left as bold an impression on some of the circuit partygoers as they did on him.

"Frederico remembers that little boy," said a party frequenter who goes by the single name Frederico. "Frederico was sipping his sorbet margarita when he look over and see this little boy in a pair of khakis, clutching an extension cord, and Frederico just think to heself, 'Who is this new little guppy in our tropical aquarium, and does he know that a barracuda named Frederico is going to make a man-meal out of him?'"

Laughing, Frederico added with a sigh, "Ah, Frederico will be Frederico."

Since Saturday, Moloney has decided to start Engineers With Narrow Comfort Zones, an on-campus club that will help raise awareness among EE students about the misleading uses of the term "circuit party."

One of the group's secondary missions is to similarly raise awareness for circuit partygoers, some of whom have reportedly been left traumatized by mistakenly attending EE club meetings - where they are subjected to group high-fives and heated discussions about ultrasonic transduction.

Moloney explains the importance of straightening out the confusion caused by ambiguous party fliers.

"I may be good at building robots, but that doesn't mean that I want to do the robot," Moloney said. "And it especially doesn't mean that I want to do the robot while standing next to a freaky drag queen who looks like a scary robot."
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