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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

PERSPECTIVE: Dancing the night away

Published: March 25, 2005
Section: Arts, Etc.

Last Saturday night, the Brandeis Junior/Senior Formal was held at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel. I was personally uninvolved in the organization of this extravaganza, and so I wasnt sure what to expect. First Ill tell you about how I ended up at this formal, and then Ill tell you how the whole formal ended up.

There were a few busses that left at different pre-set times to take students to the dance. Most people (or so it seemed) decided to take the 8:30 p.m. bus. Since the 8:30 bus happened to be the last bus, we all squeezed in. There were some complaints about the informality of the transportation. Anger started to generate;

one student asked another, we all signed up for a spot on a specific bus;

how can there be no seats left? Students must have been taking different shuttles than those that they had signed up for, and, as one student said to me, someone should have been checking the lists or our tickets on the bus;

for $60, I should have been sitting. But for the most part, we took the crowded bus situation lightheartedly.

Being one of the last bus members means that youre also one of the last to get to the hotel. By the time the 8:30 busload piled into the ballroom, cocktail hour was ending. Lots of taking pictures, posing with martini glasses. I checked my coat and was surprised to see that Brandeis hadnt picked up the tab on the coatroom. Some kept their coats with them just to spite the system or to save the two dollars. Again, to me and to most, not such a big deal.

Once inside, ID-swiped and wrist-banded, I took a look around our handsome bunch. I must say I was impressed with how seriously everyone took the word Formal. In high school, it was cool to show up to Prom late and in a tee-shirt. But on Saturday night, everyone seemed to play along with the silliness of the whole Formal idea. Ball gowns, sequins, satin, tuxedos and patent leather shoes. Special hair-dos, fresh manicures, fancy jewelry. This was no Pachanga.

And nothing but such Formal attire would have seemed to fit in such a beautiful setting. The historic Imperial Ballroom at the Park Plaza makes you feel like youre Cinderella. Bacarat crystal chandeliers adorn the two-story room and cast a whimsical warm glow over the dark-red velvet drapes, the royal style balconies and the gala below. I was told that there was supposed to be a Parisian theme to the evening, but the only hints of a theme that I noticed were small Eiffel Tower centerpieces. Regardless, the space looked picturesque in soft pinks and magical reds.

Soon after we arrived, dinner was served, and everyone took their seats at their pre-assigned tables. I was sitting at a table close to the stage and the DJ and I had a perfect view of the dance floor. It was the ultimate table placement. For others, their view was not as great. Since the room was a long rectangle, and the dance floor was in the front and not the center, some were closer to the action than others. To those in the back of the room, the tables seemed crowded and not as luxurious as the tables closer up or in the balconies.

Eating beforehand in expectation of Brandeis-event-catered-food was a mistake. Dinner was, according to the popular opinion, actually really good. By ten oclock, I had had two dinners and three cocktails;

and in that kind of a situation, what better thing to do than dance?

The music was okay, most agreed. There were a lot of those I Like Big Butts songs from the nineties, and very few slow songs, which is one of the two negative things I have to say about the whole thing. The other is that there was no picture-taking. At Prom, and at most other school dances, they have a photographer there to tell you to stand in front of the cheesy sky-and-cloud backdrop and smile. I wanted one of those pictures, and a cheap plastic frame that said Formal 05, too.

All in all, though, it was a great night not quite a fairytale, but a sweet, organized, classy way to kick off the Spring festivities that seem to be saying to us Seniors: this is the end of your era.