By Ronja Boer
Is there an object or place in the dorms you would like to know the origin of, or do you think it is worth writing about? Let us know here!
September 2018: a new batch of first years embarks on their AUC adventure. They are still settling into their new lives, losing their way around the dorm hallways and Academic Building, adjusting to their first courses and new roommates. Maria Myers, as of 2022 in her fourth year of AUC as a Humanities major, quickly found a place to take a break from the excitement when she first came here: the balcony at the end of her string.
During the 2020/2021 school year having a party was much less common than now due to the lockdown restrictions. However, on the fifth floor balcony at the very end of the first building, the sounds of people chatting and music playing could often be heard. Had one seen the balcony back then they would have seen colorful lights and cozy decorations. The place is called ‘Apollo’s Corner’, as described on its Instagram page: “The dorm’s most legendary balcony garden & party collective”.
None of this existed yet in September 2018 when Myers joined her first String Dinner in her first week at AUC. Two string mates of Myers, Ayoub Samadi and András Kiss, had scored two second-hand couches and put them on the empty balcony for the dinner, to which hardly anyone had shown up. It was by accident that this hang-out spot was born.
Myers recalls: “Right from the start, chilling there became a ritual and we realized that – being on the 5th floor – we had the best position to watch the sunsets stretch over the train station”. Though the balcony is now most known for the parties hosted there, initially all types of activities were held there. “People came to read a book, smoke a joint, enjoy the sun, do yoga, paint,” Ayoub shares. What made it such a good spot for all these activities is the constant sunlight. Seeing as the sun can be hard to find in cloudy Amsterdam, the group who made the balcony felt that, since the god Apollo had blessed them with so much sunlight, they had no choice but to name the balcony after him: Apollo’s Corner.
With time the balcony became a regular place for the group to go, and it showed. They decorated the spot with plants, potted vegetables and herbs. Myers moved all of her own plants out of her room and onto the balcony, where eventually these plants grew vines all around the balcony. Once the vegetables had fully grown, the aubergines and herbs were used for curry. The balcony had become a communal place for the whole string, their friends, or anyone in search of a place to chill.
During their first spring at AUC, the group’s hanging out sessions evolved into parties on the balcony. “They started out with just our friends, but after my first year new first years would ask me about ‘Apollo’s Corner’ and where it was, some of them thought it was a bar” Myers reminices. Over time, the parties became too big for the balcony even, and often people had to be sent away.
After some time Myers received comments from students that the parties on Apollo’s Corner were the best they had attended. “I think that’s when we really committed to making Apollo’s Corner more than a balcony and really creating experiences for people”. An instagram page was collectively created to spread the word. “We started coming up with more elaborate line ups and party concepts,” she explains, “we’d spend the whole day before the party decorating the balcony and delineating different chill areas and visuals in our rooms.” In 2021, when most of the original students who had set up Apollo’s Corner and their friends graduated, Kiss and Myers organized ‘Apollo’s Final Bang Fest:’ A 4 day festival to commemorate the end of their lives as AUC students, all with 3 different stages for DJs, a stick ‘n poke tattoo booth, food catering by TitsOut4Snacks, a rap battle, morning yoga sessions, and much more. “It was a lot of work,” Kiss adds, smiling.
A balcony largely used to throw parties would often get trashed, something which the dorm’s caretaker and cleaner weren’t very happy about. In fact, because the balcony is officially a fire escape, the group was initially asked to move all the furniture away from the balcony. In order to keep the happy place they created and satisfy DUWO, the string agreed on keeping the balcony ‘immaculately clean’. Every morning after a party the whole string would join in cleaning the balcony so it could be used as a communal space again.
That communal space was important. “I think someone even wrote a decent chunk of their capstone [at Apollo’s Corner]”, Ayoub mentions. Andras adds that what made the place so special was that it was not just about partying. Apollo’s Corner was a space for them to sit after class, write essays together and discuss lectures with people from different majors. “So you don’t just discuss within those 45 minutes or an hour in the Academic Building, but you keep discussing after class as well”, Andràs shares, “that is what the dorms are for right? That we all live here together.” Apollo’s Corner became even more important as a communal place during the COVID-19 crisis, when DUWO closed the common rooms.
András hopes that the ‘spirit’ of the corner can be kept alive and spread throughout the dorms in the future. What is that spirit? András replies it is about taking care of the inclusive AUC bubble. “If everyone just puts out a chair or a tree in the hallways, the dorms would become more communal”, he says, “instead of walking in those gray halls”.
In June of 2021, three years after its inception, DUWO made the string take down Apollo’s Corner completely and the spot returned to the empty grey balcony it had been before. Though this saddens her, Myers plans on carrying on the corner’s traditions and parties every so often by rebuilding and emptying the balcony each time. When she too graduates from AUC she wants to make sure new tenants of the string can carry on what she started. She concludes that Apollo’s Corner was never about all the decorations but the communal space it was for her and her friends.