As a freshman here at Wake Forest University, the memories of senior prom, homecoming and other classic high school dances still remain at the front of my mind. The throbbing speakers playing music pre-approved by administration, aching feet from high heels we had not learned how to walk in yet and waiting texts from our parents asking about how much fun we are having 10 minutes after arriving to the event are all too familiar. Little did I know, these mile markers of high school would follow me to my first month of my first semester of college when half of my hallmates and I decided to go to President’s Ball 2019.
As my best friends and I stood by the Johnson mirrors playing old Ke$ha songs and curling our hair, I found myself thinking back on all of the times I had done this before. This time, however, was different. Instead of worrying about photo opportunities and my next post on Instagram, I completely lost myself in the experience. I was not a girl determined to look cute, I was a newcomer in need of a bonding experience. As more and more of my friends piled into my dorm room, which still lacked a curtain, rug and any lighting other than the overhead, we exchanged stories of how our PSY 151 professor cursed at least five times a class or how we accidentally slept through a 9 a.m. chemistry lab that morning.
Once we finally had our dresses, heels, makeup and hair finished, we excitedly wobbled our way out to the shuttle stop behind Wait Chapel and anxiously buddied up for bus partners. Upon arrival at the venue, all of us showed the event staff our tickets and finally walked through the glass doors we had been preparing for back in the comfort of the oldest dorm on campus.
Inside lay an aesthetic corner for picture taking, my senior year dream come true. Fake ivory crawled up the structure of lovely white swings where each couple and roomie duo just had to take a photo. A mysterious soft fog hung suspended in the air, adding an air of enchantment to the scene. Beyond this, a steady stream of students passed in and out of the stadium floor where the live band sang energetically and awkward students bounced enthusiastically or tilted their heads desperately to try to understand any sentence that had just been uttered by a friend.
Behind the façade of the misty swing set, the dance itself was an absolute mosh pit of disjointed dancing and deafening screeches. The live music was a nice idea, but it was a strange experience to hear cover versions of pop music with adults spread throughout the crowd and watching us like hawks from beyond the inner ring of dancing. Upon my first step onto the dance floor, I was itching to leave. The group that I arrived with managed to remain on site for about fifteen minutes — just enough time to go to the bathroom, grab water and bob our heads gawkily to the music for three or four songs.
On the bus ride back to campus, however, I found myself laughing with everyone else about the event — we had spent way too much time getting ready for something that lasted so few minutes. Back in the dorms, smiles and laughter flowed through the halls with ease. The shared experience had given all of us another way to connect with each other over a new inside joke or a song that had played while inside.
Despite the underwhelming experience at the actual dance, I tremendously enjoyed myself before and after the President’s Ball dance. I loved having an excuse to take an extra-long shower, dress up in fancy clothes and forget about all of the stats problems I still had to finish before my next class on Monday morning.
College so far has been a revolving door of people to meet, homework to finish and places to go. A night of pure frivolity and easy laughter was much needed, no matter how much it reminded me of my all-too-recent high school dances.