UL in History: Christmas Dance
Dr. Clifton W. Potter Jr. ~ UL History Professor
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-
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.