Maybe it's the sweltering summer heat, maybe it's the fact that we've been locked inside for a year, or maybe it's our collective addiction to TikTok, but we can't stop watching #bamarush TikToks — and for good reason.
From August 7 to August 15, the world stopped turning when thousands of University of Alabama students suited up in their brightest Shein dresses, Steve Madden heels, and Kendra Scott accessories. Together, they participated in recruitment — being transported on busses from dorms to giant homes full of blondes — where they were rushing their top choice houses. And, yes, lucky for us, every minute of this was documented on TikTok.
"Bama rush," as the saga has been hashtagged, began with simple outfit of the day (OOTD) videos: from the comfort of their dorm rooms, pledges — we'd be remiss if we didn't point out the majority of them being white and blonde — gave viewers a rundown of their looks before heading out for a day of socials, parties, and meetings with their possible future sisters. Some students even teamed up with friends to show off their outfits, meant for days labeled Sisterhood, Preference Round, and Bid Day, in rotating formations.
The videos went something like this: "Hi my name is ___, my dress is from ___, my earrings are from ___, my shoes are from ___" and then another girl would replace her on screen. Sometimes, at the end, someone would yell "roll tide" for good measure. In case you missed out on this overwhelming moment in history, it's still watchable here:
But OOTDs weren't the only TikToks keeping users religiously watching: videos of the actual rush grounds provided a more detailed window into this alternate universe previously unknown to East and West Coasters. In some of those fateful videos, elder sorority members, sitting in a pyramid formation, filmed themselves performing their chants within the doorways of their mansions.
One video showed crowds of pledges walking with purpose between dozens of sorority tents with the caption "When the entire world is watching you rush into the biggest sororities in the country." Another video took viewers into the Phi Mu sorority house, where three already-pledged students danced in white dresses that almost made you think a cult ceremony was about to take place. Lucky for us, the pledges were frequently self-aware of how blonde the pool of fellow pledges was, with several "trying to find your blonde friend" videos popping up and showing a sea of blonde hair.
Despite this year's Bama rush going viral, University of Alabama students and state residents are well aware that this tradition happens every year. Last year, 2,100 pledges participated in a virtual rush because of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Alabama news site AL.com, and roughly 2,000 were offered bids by sororities. This year, 2,500 pledges participated in Bama rush and 2,300 were offered bids.
But those numbers have nothing on the millions of people watching the pledge week play out like an addicting reality show: TikToks tagged under #Bamarush had already been viewed 80 million times by Friday, and that wasn't even the end of it.
So, what is it about this that is so captivating? Perhaps it's the sheer volume of blondes, the specificity of outfit montages, the eagerness to wake up before the sun is up, do your hair and makeup, put on heels, and congregate with 2,000 other people after spending a year at home. Perhaps it's watching the bidding drama happen IRL, and seeing certain TikTok favourites snubbed (justice for Makayla). It's captivated us, it's scared us, and it's made us wonder what "roll tide" even means.
Let's be clear, though: The students who are participating in this sacred week of blonde events are loving the attention. In fact, they've encouraged their fans — and fellow recruitment sisters (is that what they call it?) — to keep the momentum of Bama rush week alive. Because, where would we all be today if we didn't just spend the week glued to our phones in the name of sisterhood?