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Masks and Merriment

The Annual University of Minnesota Masquerade Ball

By Kaylee Anderson

In a flurry of glittering gowns and bejeweled faces, the University of Minnesota Ballroom Dance Club's second annual dance, the Masquerade Ball, was off to a racing start. In retrospect, not everyone was wearing a mask. Barring the unmasked from coming would have been a lot less fun, especially for me, as glasses don't really allow for masks and I had to get creative with face paint and eyeliner instead.

The Great Hall of Coffman Memorial Union was the perfect place to host the event, what with the gorgeous marble flooring and soaring ceiling. It has a feel that's very befitting of a masquerade, especially when you add in color-changing lights and funky dance music. That's if you consider waltzes to be funky. It was wonderful to watch partygoers file in, both those who knew what they were doing as well as people who had barely danced a day in their lives. It took less than an hour for the hall to be packed, which made for some fun, but very creative floorcraft.

Dancers were able to practice more floorcraft by playing the first game of the evening, where each couple having a streamer tied to their elbows, attempted to tear off those of others via strategic dance moves. Needless to say, most of the moves executed didn't look like foxtrot steps, but at least there were minimal injuries.

About halfway through I looked at the clock and was flabbergasted to find it was only 8:00. On one hand, I was excited because that meant I still had two whole hours to get my groove on, but on the other hand, my feet were already starting to hurt. This was promptly forgotten as "Uptown Funk" began to pump through the speakers and I went on the hunt for a willing lead.

It was nice seeing so many fresh faces at the masquerade. Even if they had only gone through one or two lessons, people still came to have fun, and it was great watching dancers help one another learn the basic for cha-cha or rumba. Seeing people inspire one another, and help spread the love of ballroom to new visitors is a wonderful experience, as is asking others to dance when they aren't expecting it. I managed to catch a couple of follows off guard, as I attempted (with my small amount of experience) to lead rather than sit still. I don't think I scarred any of them permanently.

The food was excellent, although I may be biased as I was the one putting it out along with a couple other compatriots. In retrospect, the only bad thing about the dance was that we could have used more cheese plates and chocolate cake. All in all, it was a fantastic way to spend my Saturday night, and as always, I learned several things. One was that the most effective way to get people to move out of the way when you're carrying a giant punch bowl is just screaming "punch!" over whatever rhythm song is playing, while you "football-player" your way from the kitchen to the snack table. The other is that dancing is an excellent way to forget about the fact that your feet hurt—that is, until you take off your shoes and try to walk normally again.

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