From: Min Seo Riu <email@example.com>
To: S <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Halloween 1978, Halloween 2022
While I was researching Halloween in Isla Vista to write this email to you, I stumbled across a Daily Nexus article written by alumna Lexi Pandell, published almost exactly 12 years ago to the day. It briefly runs through the history of Isla Vista’s Halloween parties from the 1960s into the late 2000s, with familiar names like “Isla Vista Foot Patrol” and “Del Playa” thrown around.
It was almost jarring to read an article about Isla Vista published at the same time I was still dressing up as a crayon for Halloween. Twelve years ago, almost exactly to the day, I was 8 years old and watching “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” in Mr. Ragis’ fourth grade class, passing notes to friends and listening to recession pop during recess (which, evidently, is making a comeback — thank you, Carly Rae Jepsen!). I don’t even know if I really knew what college was back then, much less where I.V. was located. But here Lexi Pandell was, living in the same college town I am now, writing about the same things I’m writing to you about in 2022. Isn’t that cool?
Anyways, I learned that in 1978, a riot broke out on Halloween weekend. Tension had been building since the creation of the Isla Vista Foot Patrol in 1970 (a reactionary measure after a number of events, such as the burning of the Bank of America), and it culminated in a violent conflict between partygoers and police, with a fair amount of arrests made that night. As you can imagine, we’ve had quite a long and arduous history rebelling against policing here, which evidently has not changed since the ’60s. But now, on the weekend of Halloween, instead of 30,000 partiers on the streets, it almost feels like a ghost town, or at least some kind of mass emigration. Droves of cars leave Friday evening, leaving I.V. quiet and solitary for the weekend. It’s amazing to me that the progress of time changes everything and also changes nothing at all. From 1978 to 2010 to 2022, everything feels exactly the same and still nothing alike.
I was walking home with D late last night from the library, and we walked past groups upon groups of costumed students, seemingly wandering around from block to block in order to find their final destination for the night. There were Playboy bunnies and Cat in the Hats intermittently stopping in the middle of the sidewalk to say hi to a friend or compliment a stranger on their costume. After we reached my house, I asked D how many people she thought had dressed up as Playboy bunnies and walked around I.V. in the entire history of UC Santa Barbara. She said, “Probably millions.” It might have been a stretch, but it was a strangely comforting thought. The notion that if all else changed, Isla Vista would always stay the same in this regard.
Reminders like that make me glad I’m here. Even when I have to push through an impenetrable wall of students in front of Woodstock’s or intermittently throw out the cans of Twisted Tea that my upstairs neighbors accidentally drop off their balcony, it’s nice to be young in Isla Vista. It makes me happy.
When you respond, let me know how your Halloween was. Or, if you’re free, give me a call that weekend; I’m sure I’ll start to feel lonely once everyone begins to leave I.V. en masse. I miss you, write back soon :)
A version of this article appeared on p. 16 of the Oct. 27, 2022 print edition of the Daily Nexus.