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University of Wisconsin - La Crosse Hosts Its First Fall Ball

By Daniel O'Connell

September is a very busy time of year for college dancers. They begin to attend classes and try out for their competitive teams. Freshmen, who typically have no prior experience with ballroom dance, take their first steps in cha cha, waltz, and salsa. That’s why it was something of a surprise to receive notice of a Fall Ball to be held so early in the school year. Many colleges in the area were invited: Carleton College, Univeristy of Wisconsin - Eau Claire, Luther College, University of Northern Iowa, University of Iowa, University of Minnesota - Rochester, and University of Minnesota - Twin Cities.

I attended with a motley crew of dancers from the Twin Cities—U of M – Twin Cities officers Joel Torgeson, Kevin Viryatosin, and Rosemary O’Connell, and Eau Claire alumna Talia Rudahl. We figured that we could take the scenic route down the river, do some hiking, and make a day of it. Fortunately, the weather agreed, and our trip was downright gorgeous. We made a stop on the bluffs by Lake Pepin, had some tasty Wisconsin food, and passed by a very busy motorbike festival. If you’ve never made the trip, we highly recommend taking the Wisconsin side of the river down. It is a gorgeous ride—if you don’t mind sharing the road with motorbikes.

Given how early in the school year the dance was, it was surprisingly well attended. When we arrived, the dance had about 120 participants, including people from at least four different colleges. There were young dancers, old dancers, new dancers, and even some tremendous veterans like Jeremy Anderson and Yuko Taniguchi. UW - La Crosse had a lot of brand-new dancers there, and each one I danced with was courteous and excited to learn.

I think what was really neat about the dance was that the UW - La Crosse donations jar was filled to the brim, with quite a few large bills, too. I don’t think UW - La Crosse was expecting so much generosity, and it was great to see the community come together and support their organization. They put on a great event, and I know that money will be well spent advancing dance in their community.

University of Wisconsin – La Crosse plans to host the event again next year, so if you find yourself free in the early days of fall, you should look to put the Fall Ball on your calendar!