Winter Masquerade Ball: A New Kind of Winter Formal

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

This coming Saturday, the Winter Masquerade Ball will be held in Sharples from 8 PM to 12 AM. The winter formal, which prior to this year was a themed party called the Yule Ball, has experienced significant changes. Many of these changes come out of a new planning process.

In accordance with the ball’s masquerade theme, the event will provide masks, both pre-made and blank ones for decoration. Formal attire is encouraged. “I think [students] should expect a lot more food than there’s been in the past,” said Mike Elias, one of Swarthmore’s student activities coordinators. There will be both DJs and live music, featuring performances from at least one a cappella group.

Elias spoke about the changes in the planning of the winter formal. As many events at Swarthmore are organized through committees, Elias was surprised to learn that the Yule Ball had largely been planned by one student, Yana List ’14.

“When we started thinking through what the Yule Ball was, there was a suggestion that it might be a good sustainable practice if we got a committee together to help with the logistics,” Elias said. “Once we got the committee together, we got into a larger conversation about creating an event that’s sustainable throughout the years.”

Elias believes that the introduction of the committee to the planning process of the winter formal will facilitate the passing on of information about the event for years to come. This will prove useful to future committees as they plan the budget and other features of the event.

Yana List '14
Yana List ’14

In addition to the committee, Elias believes that continuing on with the more general idea of the winter formal will help maintain the event for upcoming years. “The winter formal event is more of a sustainable practice in terms of the theme that will consistently carry through,” Elias said. He hopes that it the general idea will lead to themes that are “more inclusive of and including the entire community.”

Elias spoke of both his involvement and the involvement of events coordinator Allie Emmerich. “I met with the committee the first two weeks, and then Allie Emmerich […] has done an absolutely fantastic job of working with them to think through all of the logistics,” Elias said.

List has been involved with the planning of the winter formal since its inception in the winter of 2010. Co-director for her freshmen and sophomore years, List has been director of the event this year and last year.

List was enthusiastic about the change of theme to a masquerade, admitting that she had grown tired of the Yule Ball theme the past several years. “I was sitting in a meeting about it, and I was so bored, and I was like, ‘Let’s do something new and exciting!’” List said. According to List, members of the committee had similar sentiments. Once the theme of the masquerade was brought up, the decision to change themes was made quickly. “It was a three minute conversation, and that was it!” List said.

List was also pleased about the changes in the planning process and happy with the committee’s work. By chance, all members of the committee are first year students. List was glad for the support they have received from the administration.  “It’s great to have administrative support in a way we haven’t had before,” List said. “We’ve always had a lot of support from Sharples and sound and tech […] but having the Student Activities Office there has been really great.”

“The idea of the theme or the decorations or anything can continue to change,” Elias said. The introduction of the committee, increased administrative support, and change of themes may help keep the winter formal sustainable and fresh for future years.

The Winter Masquerade Ball will take place in Sharples from 8 PM until 12 AM on Saturday, December 7th. Sharples will close at 1:30 PM on Saturday.

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