The Man Behind the Vest: An interview with our resident party critic, Jake Hausthor
By Nick Hennessy
Elusive. Omniscient. Judgmental. Who is he? Vest Guy. In the spring of 2017, third-year student Jake Hausthor became the Roger Ebert of Bennington’s nightlife. Hausthor writes measured, detailed—sometimes sassy—reviews of each and every weekend party, published on a Facebook page, “Vest Guy Party Analytics” I sat down with the controversial critic to talk about music, vibes, flocks of incoming freshmen, and whether or not there’s any hope for Third Street…
NH: How did you come up with the moniker “Vest Guy?”
JH: I’m a guy who wears a lot of vests. Really not that complicated.
NH: How did you come up with the idea for the page?
JH: I’ve been writing party analysis since I got to Bennington, but I only started doing it publicly this term. I grew up home-schooled, I wasn’t really a party animal. The first party I went to was Gender Blender 2015. Extremely good party, I decided, “Okay, maybe I should go to some more.” When I go to parties, I just sit in the corner and watch things. I realized, “Hey, I really enjoy doing this.” One of my friends liked my observations and told me, “Hey, you should do this publicly, get people to think differently about the parties here.”
NH: You’re very specific and technical about your rating process. In layman’s terms, what makes a good party?
JH: The main one for me, as a music student, is the music. If I can’t vibe with it, what’s the point? The biggest room is the dance room. The vibe is important, too: is this a friendly place where you can let your hair down? Some houses have it, some don’t. Themes aren’t actually that important, it’s just good for advertising. I kind of wish people would do more with themes, but I’m not sure how aside from costumes. Gender Blender: everyone gets dolled up, I bust out my corset. But most parties don’t do that. And it’s hard to execute some of these themes—for example, “Otter Rescue” at PB last term. The theme was fun, cute, but how much can you do with it? Ultimately, though, the theme isn’t the most important factor. But it does help.
NH: Do you ever get worried if a house is miffed about a negative review?
JH: Short answer: no. I can argue my points pretty clearly, but I don’t pretend to be unbiased. I’m just some nerdy white guy in the corner—you can take my criticism or leave it. Some houses don’t like me, others—Canfield, for example—actually take my feedback seriously and try to improve. Kilpat, I can’t really evaluate. Some houses like Stokes do stuff I don’t necessarily like, but that’s my personal taste. I’m not a professional, it’s just my opinion. I like hearing differing opinions, too. I’m not always the target audience. I talk to people at parties more now to see what they think.
NH: Popular opinion dictates that the best parties happen at colonials because of the layout—bigger dance floors, more room, etc. Is the Third Street situation hopeless?
JH: It’s not. Third Street is actually middle-of-the-path right now. You can try exploring the space in different ways. You can do different things on different floors. Second floor common rooms are kind of nifty, you can do something with that. There’s a lot that can be done there, it just takes more creativity than a colonial. Fels is currently doing well because they know what they’re doing. They don’t try to squeeze everyone in the common room.
NH: Are you going to continue reviewing as “Vest Guy” next term?
JH: Yes. Now that I’m going into senior year, I’m starting to look for a replacement. I don’t know who yet. I’ll be looking at the flocks of incoming freshmen. If I don’t find anyone, I’ll let it die after I graduate. We’ll see what happens.