It's almost been a month since school started back up at the University of Washington and when students aren't hitting the books, thousands are involved in any of the 800 on-campus clubs and groups. Registered clubs range from the Unicyclists at UW to the Husky Men's Glee Club to the Asian Coalition for Equality; but click on the "Special Interest" tab on the website and you'll find the quirkier clubs of UW. Like Friendship is Magic at UW, a fan club for the show My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic.
These adult My Little Pony lovers are sometimes known as Bronies, guys across the country who are fans of the show and have lifted it to cult status. But club officer Zach Oppenheim doesn't identify as a Brony.
"We tend to avoid the term Brony. The word itself has picked up a lot of negative connotations."
So what is it about a kids show that appeals to the club members?
"It is a little girls' show, to an extent, but it's also designed to entertain any audience that is watching it," says the club's human relations officer, Connor Gibson. A parent could watch it with their child. They sneak in little references to things that only adults would understand; movies, media, whatever. I think a little part of it is just because it's different."
He says he hadn't told his parents about the club, but they found out by accident.
"I left my backpack at the club meeting. My phone number was in it but it was my home phone number and my parents picked it up. One of our officers informed them that 'Connor had left his backpack at the My Little Pony Club meeting.' They thought it was weird and they weren't sure exactly what was going on. They first thought that I was in a a farming, horse breeding kind of thing. My dad had the most interesting questions. He did question my sexuality. But eventually I explained it to them and they said, 'Well, it's really weird and we don't understand it but if you like it then, by all means, go ahead.'"
I watched the My Little Pony cartoons in the 1980's, when I was a kid, but club president Robin Baugus, who is called the Twilight Sparkle officer, assured me that this new generation of the show is very different. It was created by the same people who made Powerpuff Girls.
"They have a pony of Dr Who and the Big Lebowski was in there," Robin told me. "So there are a lot of little things that get thrown in that are really funny to watch. But also it's well written. I know people throw that around as the excuse, but it is! It's a really well written show."
In another UW classroom, on another evening, Zoe Altaras leads the first The Joss Whedon Club meeting of the quarter.
"He's a writer and director. His writing is amazing! No one can come up with stories better than he can!"
In case you're not familiar with Joss Whedon's TV shows:
"There's Buffy, there's Angel, Firefly, Dollhouse and thee's a new one that just started a couple of weeks ago, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D."
The club gets together weekly to watch Joss Whedon television shows and movies and they're currently planning their Halloween party. At the meeting, members seemed to bask in the fact that everyone in that room is a huge fan of a man that most of their peers have never heard of.
These are just two of the clubs that make up the nerdy underbelly of the UW. For a full list, click here.
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