On one side, tie-dyed shirts, folk music and peace symbols. On the other: designer sunglasses, the Pointer Sisters and a seminar on real-estate financing.
Call it dueling reunions--the class of 1968 versus the class of 1983. Or, in the words of a UCLA official who helped coordinate the Sunday event, "the hippies meet the yuppies."
The hippies won.
By the end of the afternoon, the '80s crowd, sparse and subdued from the get-go, had abandoned its half of the quad and dropped into the '60s.
Maybe it was the music. The "laid-back sit-in, love-in, be-in" had live folk, psychedelic and dance bands, whereas the yuppie "networking session" offered only prerecorded tunes.
Then again, maybe the sheer spectacle of a bunch of paunchy, love-beaded middle-agers trying to relive their long-dead dream decade attracted the yuppies.
On the '60s side, several hundred people, some in peasant dresses and headbands, wandered past booths selling wind chimes and jewelry. A multicolored, multi-bumper-stickered Volkswagen bus sputtered around as if out of some time warp. And Professor Carl Faber told a sappy parable about a fictional clown and urged the audience to "steal the fire of the gods" by "living the being of a clown."
In contrast, the yuppie reunion was practically invisible.
"The '80s is one of the more difficult times for us to reconnect," conceded UCLA Alumni Assn. Director John Kobara, who didn't even bother delivering his opening remarks when he saw the sparse audience.
Part of the difficulty, he said, is that more recent graduates are busy starting families and careers.
But part of it might also be the difference between the decades.
"Maybe we never had a collective identity as a group," said 1983 graduate Kayla Conroy. "Maybe we didn't feel the sense of community (they had in the 1960s)."
Or maybe, joked classmate Vicky Hare, the '80s alums are too busy making a killing on Wall Street and vacationing in the Bahamas to bother with reunions.
In Michael Gottlieb's view, it all boils down to athletics. The 1960s group, he said, was around for "the Wooden years," when UCLA racked up a string of basketball championships: "It created more school spirit."
But older alumni said sports had little to do with the spirit of their decade.
It was the excitement of what was happening in the world at the time, said Stephen Kundell: the Vietnam protests, the music, the sense of being able to change the world.
Kundell, who met his wife in an experimental UCLA class ("Non-Reality for the Non-Major"), said many values he adopted then have stayed with him. His 16-year-old daughter, Elana, agreed: "He's still a hippie at heart."
But other '60s grads seemed less than enchanted by memories of the bell-bottom decade. Some snickered at the people in flower-power costumes. Others ignored the lectures by their former philosophy and psychology professors and opted instead for a tour beneath the UCLA bridge.
A few ex-hippies, proving that they can be just as yuppified as their '80s counterparts, even attended the "Career Strategies for the '90s" seminar sponsored by the class of 1983.
The other common ground for the dueling decades could be found among a row of food booths dividing the reunions: a Ben & Jerry's ice cream cart.
Still, there was one guy who didn't seem to fit in with any of this.
Long black cape. Slicked-back hair. Pointy fangs. Dracula name tag.
Class of 1568?