Webb Report: Still dreaming about high school? You’re not alone

Also: A historic Texas dance hall is for sale (on an online auction site)


The halls of South Austin’s Crockett High School are not too labyrinthine in real life. There’s a fairly straightforward courtyard-and-wings floorplan. In my recurring dreams, however, there’s practically a Minotaur waiting for me at every possible twist and turn.

As a student in both grade school and in college, I lived for assembling my schedule each semester, much in the way some people hold a special thrill for their fantasy draft. But every few months I have the same bad dream: I don’t know what order my classes are in, and I don’t know where to find them, either. As I posted on Facebook when I woke up one recent morning: “So, I’m going to have the same dream where I forget my high school class schedule for the rest of my life? Cool, that’s chill.”

As the comments poured into my Facebook post like a varsity football team busting through a paper banner, I was taken aback by the number of people afflicted by the same sour nostalgia. Forgotten locker combinations, late arrivals to marching band practice, blanking on lines in a school play: Friends my age all have similar bad dreams about school. Judging by the colleagues decades my senior who said they still have such unwelcome subconscious anxiety, it seems likely to last.

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What gives? Why do we all still dream about high school even once we have very serious adult problems?

Nothing a little googling can’t answer — sort of. According to neuroscience news site Brain Decoder, school dreams regularly top lists of most common nightmare fuel across cultures. The themes most likely to pop up, they say? Unwittingly missing classes and not being able to find your classroom.

It’s obvious that most of us are haunted by our adolescent years, but the “why” isn’t an easy nut to crack. Brain Decoder offers a few possible explanations. One — which they call the “pop-psychology route” — suggests that school dreams could correspond to current insecurities and worries. Feeling lost and disorganized? Probably reminds your stupid sleep brain of feeling lost and disorganized among the lockers. Brain Decoder also offers the “reminiscence bump” as a part of the explanation, which is the idea that your adolescent memories tend to be your strongest, so they crop up more readily. (There are studies to back that up, they say.)

A 2004 New York Times article hones in on a more specific and predictably erudite reason for this omnipresent dream theme: the rise of the meritocracy. As American society began to broker advancement based of performance (starting with the academic variety) over family prestige, “a companion set of anxieties took up residence in the subconscious.” Dreaming about your fear of failure at the most basic level, according to psychiatrists interviewed by the Times, helps keep people on track.

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But I think my chosen reason for still not being able to find Ms. Cunningham’s seventh-period chemistry class is what Brain Decoder calls the “activation-synthesis hypothesis.” Basically, your brain chemistry shifts when you fall into that sweet, sweet REM sleep. High on lobe-juice, this theory says, your head just goes off the rails into some weird narrative territory.

Considering some dreams I’ve also had — there’s that one about Ashton Kutcher and a loose tiger — I’ll buy what that theory is selling.

Boot-scoot bids

Eleven miles south of La Grange, the small town of Swiss Alp has a neat name, a handful of buildings, a fine view of rolling hills and not much else.

Except Texas dance hall history. It has plenty of that. And — for the right price — you can be the caretaker of that history (and a chef, too, if you want).

The Swiss Alp Dance Hall (and adjoining cafe) is up for bid on Ebay. Bidding is up to $6,100 right now — but there is a reserve price, which has not been met. The listing notes “Swiss Alp Dancehall is over 100 years old, expect some wear and tear.”

It’s true an online auction is not a terribly old-school Texas way to approach it, but the dance hall has Lone Star bona fides to spare. The hall was built near the turn of the century, a few years before Spindletop changed the course of Texas history in 1901. It replaced a hall built in the 1870s to serve the local German and Czech communities.

RELATED: Texas to-do list — drink a tall boy, pluck a tab, help save a dance hall

The hall was built for dancing, and it would host Texas legends such as Bob Wills and Adolph Hofner, as well as Asleep at the Wheel, Johnny Winter and Sunny and the Sunliners. German brass bands and Czech polkas kept the community on its feet between touring artists.

It is no small attraction for locals who have made it part of their personal history.

Owner Donna Ustynik described one of her favorite memories from her time with Swiss Alp Dance Hall: “One Saturday night, a young couple was in the parking lot, and it looked like they were having a very serious conversation. We watched through the open windows while the young man dropped to his knees and proposed to his girlfriend on the same spot where her father had proposed to her mother.”

The dance hall has been owned by three families — since 2005 by the Ustynik family..

RELATED: Owner sells Goliad’s Schroeder Hall in online auction

Ustynik said that when she and her husband, Kevin, purchased the property, the hall had been closed for 25 years. The building was in disrepair, so they brought it up to current building codes, while aiming to preserve its character and history.

The listing includes the 7,000-square-foot dance hall, the Swiss Alp Cafe and two acres of land. The Ustyniks are hoping to find a “Texas, music-minded buyer to preserve this classic piece of music history and help entertain thousands of dancers for another 100+ years.”

— Dave Thomas, American-Statesman staff

Why didn’t we think of this

Yeah, yeah, you filled your hallway with balloons, or parked a car on the roof of the gym, or whatever you did. If you didn’t attempt to sell your entire high school on Craigslist, your senior prank game is lacking.

Athens High School’s senior class of 2017 found a fitting way to say goodbye to their school when they listed the entirety of it for sale on Craigslist at the reasonable, spirited price of $20,170. Under the “land/housing/prison” category, obviously. The listing mentions the building’s 12 bathrooms, three locker rooms and two gymnasiums. It also promises an “old raggedy track” and clarifies that “Underclassmen are also included in this package deal!!!”

According to the Houston Chronicle, the principal was made aware of the listing on May 22.

“The principal knows the date because the seniors put her email address as the contact for the Craigslist ad,” the school’s communications coordinator told the Chronicle.

The coordinator also said that because no “glitter,” “chickens” or “mess” were involved, the prank was considered “harmless.”

But now where are they going to hold class …

— Amanda O’Donnell, American-Statesman staff

Biddies love beer, too

You wish your grandma was this cool.

When 79-year-old Muriel Munoz learned from her grandchildren what a keg stand was, she decided she had to try it. The next day, at a graduation party for her grandson, she tested out her skills, with some help from her family.

The North Texas woman is now a viral sensation after her granddaughter, Madison Munoz, documented the whole thing on Twitter and Snapchat.

Madison, a 20-year-old Texas A&M University student, told Buzzfeed that she wasn’t surprised her grandma wanted to join in on the party: “She’s always been the type of grandma to hang out with all of the grandkids and make us laugh.”

Since Madison tweeted the keg stand photos, her initial tweet had been favorited about 12,000 times as of Thursday.

— Jake Harris, American-Statesman staff



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