By Rosemary O’Connell
Every December for the last five years, the University of Minnesota Ballroom Dance Club has hosted a dance called the Masquerade Ball. Masks are, of course, encouraged, but it takes some dedication to dance the whole night with a mask on. Personally, I have found that I can only last about three dances before the mask gets too hot. As a result, some people were creative this year, creating masks with makeup and rhinestones, some of which actually looked like real masks.
The real point of the Masquerade Ball, however, is not to wear masks but to provide an opportunity for people to get together and have some fun dancing. For many of our club members, it is one of the first times they have gone to a ballroom dance event, and it gives them a chance to use the skills they have learned in the club's lessons over the course of the semester. For other club members, the Masquerade Ball is a time to get some exercise and socialize before buckling down in preparation for finals. For those that are not students, the dance is a chance to reconnect with old friends. Alumni often return to the Masquerade Ball to dance and socialize with their friends, whether those are other alumni or students still finishing up their time at the university.
For me, as a graduate student with most of my free time spent focused on competitive dancing, the Masquerade Ball is one of the few times I get out for social dancing. I enjoy meeting the club's new members, with whom I rarely get to interact on a regular basis, as well as getting to see some of my friends who have graduated. Since I have been around longer than most current students, I know quite a few alumni. This year, I even got a chance to catch up with a fellow alumna from Carleton College. I talked to her several times when I needed a break from dancing. Learning that she was involved in the Guthrie's upcoming production of A Midsummer Night's Dream was exciting, and the show promptly went on my calendar.
After the dance, a bunch of us went out for ice cream; this is quickly becoming a tradition for some of the club's members, and we had a few new members join us this year. In addition to enjoying the ice cream, I appreciated hearing from the new members about what they like—and don't like—about club. It can be hard to get honest feedback from people at club events, but in small groups of friends outside of an actual dance setting, it can come up easily in conversation.
Between dancing, socializing, and snacking on cake, I had a wonderful time at this year's Masquerade Ball. As an extra bonus, the weather even decided to cooperate this year, and unlike the first few years of the dance's existence, we did not get several inches of snow the day of the dance. Here's hoping that we have the same luck next year!