When FBI agent Eliot Ness followed his nose to a trail of homemade gin through the Great Lakes region, he stumbled through a blind pig—an old speakeasy—at Kalamazoo College’s Hicks Center. The campus building was designated for a swing dance event as part of the weekly series “Zoo After Dark.” After speaking the code, “My Name is Bunker,” Ness saw two porters carrying in bootlegs of liquor. He knew then to call in for backup.
The patrons were lining up behind a bar while the College’s jazz band played standards in the background. As the band took a break after playing “Lester Leaps In,” Ness muttered, “damn that blasted swing music.” He stepped to the bar to get a good look at their operations, but when ordering the bartender was shocked at Ness’s request for a sarsaparilla. He must be a cop, thought Tommy Jackson K’15, though the thought of not wanting to risk one’s bowels to Jackson’s suspicious home-brew never occurred to him. As Jackson started to hound him, Ness stopped him, “This is an arrest under the FBI.”
His agents stormed Hicks from the outside. As people funneled out, Jazz Band Conductor Tom Evans remarked “You fellas are untouchable, is that the thing? Everyone can be gotten to!” He fled quickly, leaving the musicians dealing with heavier instruments behind, like Ernest “Brad” Stech K’15 who bellowed out when he was taken into custody, “You can’t take me away. You don’t even know the [chord] changes!”
While swing music aficionados and jazz musicians alike were rounded up by Ness and his FBI team, an agent was hit over the head by a tuba case when trombonist Phil Mulder ‘15 fled. A moment later, Mulder decided to write in Sharpie on the Hicks Banquet Hall’s wall, “Touched,” for comical purposes.
Meanwhile, members of the Philharmonic were busted at an opium den after seeking inspiration to play Romantic era compositions.