The Arts

Groovin’ … on Reunion Afternoons

Bringing the ’60s Back Home will celebrate an iconic decade.

Black and white closeup of woman's face wearing sunglasses and face paint.

Face paint and street theater were hallmarks of the counterculture during the antiwar years. UW ARCHIVES 2018s00007

UW alumni who were in Madison during an era known for its protests and flamboyant pop culture will return to campus this summer for a once-in-a-lifetime event.

Jazz musician Ben Sidran ’67 says the idea for the June 14–16 reunion — called A Party with a Purpose: Bringing the ’60s Back Home — originated while he was on tour. After he and his wife, Judy Lutrin Sidran ’69, met UW alumni who had never returned to campus, they joined forces with Jerilyn Goodman ’71 to plan the gathering.

Madison is “more a state of mind, rather than a time or a place,” Ben Sidran says. Festivities will include concerts with Boz Scaggs x’66, Tracy Nelson x’67, Sidran, and other musical grads from the era, as well as Motown Night with the Temptations and a dance party with legendary WORT deejay Rockin’ John McDonald.

The Wisconsin Alumni Association will sponsor a Babcock Hall ice cream social on the Memorial Union Terrace on June 16, which will include a ’60s sing-along and a special ice cream flavor inspired by the decade. The Union also plans to feature live music from the era on the Terrace throughout the reunion.

Madison mayor Paul Soglin ’66, JD’72 and John Karl Scholz, dean of the College of Letters & Science, will provide a welcome in the new Alumni Park; UW Cinematheque will show period classics such as Easy Rider and The Graduate; and trolley runs will include a food tour, a Mifflin Street historical tour, and a trip to Monona Terrace.

All-star panels featuring UW alumni and professors will cover topics including the Vietnam War, civil rights, the legacy of George Mosse, and the women’s movement. Among the nearly three dozen discussions will be sessions titled The State of the Fourth Estate, with David Maraniss x’71, Lowell Bergman ’66, Walt Bogdanich ’75, and Jeff Greenfield ’64; Earth Day with Tia Nelson ’86 and Kathleen Falk JD’76; The Politics of Resentment with Katherine Cramer ’94; and What’s So Funny about Madison? with Jim Abrahams x’66, Ben Karlin ’93, and Andy Bergman MA’66, PhD’70.

“Obviously, these are dramatic times — these are times of social change, and I think there are parallels with the ’60s,” Sidran says. “Issues of race, of gender, of America at war — journalists fighting to get the truth out — these are things we all went through [then]. It’s odd, but the ’60s are very relevant today.”

To register, visit

Published in the Spring 2018 issue


No comments posted yet.

Post a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *