Valentines at U can hear jazz music and play animal dating ritual game

Emily Babcock

Those who want to spend Valentine’s Day in the great outdoors need not leave campus — or even go outside.
By playing the “Mating Game,” offered Saturday by the Bell Museum of Natural History, couples can celebrate the holiday watching dating rituals and courtship techniques of some of Minnesota’s wildlife. A tour, guided by museum biologist Jennifer Menken, will introduce participants to mating calls of elk along with films of amphibians, which can be explored in the Touch and See Room. Videos and stories of swooning, dancing and singing animals will also be shown.
“In some cases, sex will be discussed, but in most cases courtship is much more interesting,” Menken said.
A champagne and chocolate reception will follow the hour-and-a-half tour, along with a chance to meet Goldy Gopher dressed as Cupid. Similar tours have been wildly popular at zoos in California, said Nina Shepherd, the museum’s public relations director. She said employees of the Bell reworked the idea to adjust to resources available at the museum.
The tour was listed in February’s Minneapolis-St. Paul magazine and featured as one of the top 50 great dates. Because of the number of reservations made for the 5:30 p.m. event, the museum had to schedule another tour starting at 7 p.m. Saturday.
For those not interested in Menken describing the gifts of dead mice between romantic owls, dancing, dining and pottery activities will also be available on campus; all for about the price of a dozen roses.
A four-course candlelight dinner, hosted by the St. Paul Student Center and St. Paul campus colleges, will be followed by dancing and music by the jazz band, The Senders.
Brian Hustoles, a College of Liberal Arts senior, said because the evening is affordable and close to campus both faculty members and students are expected to purchase tickets.
“I think it will be a very romantic setting,” said Hustoles, a member of the student center’s programs and activities committee. “It is a way to do something different and avoid the booked restaurants.”
Two groups at Coffman Union are also hosting a holiday event for couples. The Studio and the Bijou film committee will show “Ghost,” and follow the presentation with a chance for students to recreate a scene in which the actors work on a pottery wheel.
“We wanted to host an event that would be fun and different, and affordable for Valentine’s Day,” said Diana Eicher, The Studio’s coordinator.
The Studio had to create a waiting list because the holiday event sold out. Eicher said because of the response events like this one are likely to become quarterly.