UL in History: Christmas Dance

Dr. Clifton W. Potter Jr. ~ UL History Professor

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Illustrations by Nicole Freewalt. 

When this edition of The Critograph appears there will be two weeks left before

the beginning of the examination period. I know that both faculty and students are

looking forward to the long vacation and beginning a brand-new semester in mid-

January.

Half a century ago there was still a long break, but exams began after we

returned to campus. I prefer the current system. We all took our books home fully

intending to study and write that last term paper—but few followed through with the

best of intentions. Now when exams are done, the semester is finished. However, we

have lost something too—the Christmas Dance.

Each class was responsible was for a major campus social event during the

session. The freshmen planned the Homecoming Dance in mid-April. In February the

sophomores hosted the Twirp Dance [The Woman is Required to Pay—our Sadie

Hawkins Dance]. The Senior Carnival followed spring break in early March. The junior

class devoted the days between Thanksgiving and mid-December to the Christmas

Dance. The Varsity Club Dance in the early fall was semi-formal, but the Christmas

Dance was formal. Since all campus dances were held in the Memorial Gym [Hall

Campus Center] no preparations could begin until the night before the dance. The gym

was used for classes until late Friday afternoon. Decorations had to be assembled days

before the event and moved into the building with precision and organization.

The budget for these activities was based on an allocation from the SGA and a

sum of money contributed by the class sponsoring the event. If officers were successful

in collecting dues from each class member there was more money to spend on the band,

the decorations, and the refreshments served at intermission. When it came to

decorations, ingenuity and simplicity often saved a great deal of money. My class

transformed the gym into an ice palace that was all blue, silver, and white. One

committee collected every dead tree they could find in the woods where Faculty Drive is

now located, and for days we sprayed them white and covered them with silver glitter.

The only mistake that was made in assembling the decorations was the failure by some of the painters to use a drop cloth. When we took down the decorations on Sunday, we

discovered a thin silver ring around one end of the basketball court. Dr. Sigler and I

worked until one in the morning on Monday trying to get up the paint only to discover

that the gym floor was to be refinished during Christmas vacation!

Since it was a formal dance, female students were entitled to a twelve o’clock

curfew. Since freshmen women were required to be in their dorms by half past seven,

and other women had to observe an eleven o’clock curfew, the opportunity to come in at

midnight was a special treat during mid-December. Most of the students who worked on

assembling the dance decorations were usually too tired to attend the event they had spent

weeks planning. They also knew that they would be spending all day Sunday removing

their creations and preparing the gym for classes on Monday morning. Despite all the

weeks of work and planning it was well worth the effort.