BandArmWave

Unquestionably, one of the most impressive sights in any stadium occurs at the conclusion of every halftime performance in Camp Randall Stadium. While singing the final lines of the university alma mater, Varsity, 79,000 Badger fans rise as one and wave their right arms proudly. This tradition dates to 1934 when newly arrived band director, Raymond Dvorak, instituted the custom. The idea for the arm motion was developed from a similar practice that Dvorak had observed when he had traveled to the University of Pennsylvania as an assistant director at the University of Illinois. After Illinois had beaten Penn, the Penn students sang their alma mater as they did only when they were defeated. As Dvorak related it:

“Well, at the end of the song, they waved their derbies in the air to the words ‘Hail, Hail, Hail’ and I thought it was pretty striking, so I stuck it in my back pocket. Later, at Wisconsin, the University President Glenn Frank was speaking. I cued the students beforehand to watch me and wave their hands at the end of Varsity. The song sort of became a toast to the President.”

The tradition is the crowning moment at every Badger game, and it has been said that during the playing of that time-honored melody, “even hard-bitten sportswriters lifted their fingers from their typewriters and stood in reverence.”

According to Dvorak, “Varsity is the best-loved, best-sung alma mater anywhere in the United States.”

Traditions
5th Quarter
The Band Banquet
Band Day
Dismissal
On Wisconsin Finale
Reversing the Caps
Skyrockets
Tuba March
Union South