As traditional formal dances for Greek houses draw near, campus dormitories and off-campus houses are imitating the events by putting on their own formals and date parties, while remaining true to their own cultures.
On-campus residences Niedfeldt and Simpson put on a formal and date party, respectively, on Saturday, March 24.
The Niedfeldt Formal, better known as “Niedformal,” began with the pledge of allegiance, followed by a three-course formal dinner complemented with jazz music, in the Searle Center. After an awards ceremony honoring each resident of Niedfeldt, residents and their dates enjoyed dancing.
Junior Niedfeldt RA Samuel Cassels says that although Niedformal appears to be a new event for the dormitory, the event is actually rooted in a history from before his time as a resident advisor.
“Niedformal happened before, but it’s been a long time. At least 10 years, I would think,” Cassels said.
Since this year’s Niedformal was awards ceremony-themed, each resident of Niedfeldt received a personalized award for a unique attribute, being honored with this award after the dinner.
Some awards given to the residents included “Most-Likely-To-Burst-Out-in-Song,” “Most-Likely-to-Fix-Things-with-Duct-Tape,” and resident Charlie Adams was awarded “Most-Likely-to-Not-Know-What-You’re-Talking-About-When-You-Say-Central-Hall.”
Mrs. Phyllis Niedfeldt fully funded the event, using it as means of teaching Niedfeldt residents etiquette.
“I think that Mrs. Niedfeldt would be very happy,” Cassels said. “Mrs. Niedfeldt is a strong believer that guys can benefit from etiquette and a formal setting. For example, each resident had to bring a date to the formal.”
Entering through the infamous doors of the Simpson dormitory lobby while encountering a black banner with a skull and crossbones that reads “Surrender the Booty,” as pineapples line the room, Simpson-ites and their dates entered into the realm of this year’s pirate-themed Simpson Date Party.
“When I was a freshman, seniors said there were date parties in the past, simply for the sake of ‘kicks and giggles,’ and that’s why they restarted it,” sophomore RA Josh Bailey said. “The whole idea is to have a good time, and not be too serious.”
Although Simpson date parties are viewed as a tradition of the dorm, prior to the spring of 2016, this event had not occurred for several years.
In recent semesters, Simpson Date Party themes have included a thrift store-theme with bowling and a “Get-Jacked” workout-theme with laser tag.
“The way it works is we will usually pick a theme and a fun activity, then have a small party afterwards for the Simpson residents and their dates,” Bailey said. “It’s great to bring in girls from other dorms, because most Simpson events are heavy on the guy-side.”
The current Simpson RAs selected the pirate-theme due to the theme’s creative possibilities — namely, some guests dressed as the traditional pirate, Peter Pan-inspired characters, and even “pirates” of videos.
“Being on the RA team, we really try to find ways to get guys involved and create a distinct culture,” Bailey said. “Date parties are unique and great way to not only build Simpson culture but bring in people from outside Simpson.”
At the corner of Manning and Fayette Street, and characterized by its off-white color, plastic flamingos strewn across the front lawn and glaring front porch lights, off-campus house “The Womb” celebrated its semiannual “Womb Formal.”
The “Womb-mates” — a term that initially inspired the naming of the house — put together their first Womb Formal, where the 8 housemates cook a meal, invite dates, and dress formally, in the fall of 2016, during their junior year.
Senior Dean Sinclair, who has lived in the Womb for nearly two years now, says that for the first Womb Formal, the “men-of-the-Womb” — another coined term for the housemates — and their dates ate dinner at Hillsdale Lanes, while everyone dressed in suits and dresses.
“It originally was just us being silly. You weren’t allowed to bring your girlfriend, and it was just us trying to make a spectacle in public,” Sinclair said.
The following semester, set in the Womb adorned with antique floral wallpaper, wood accents, and eclectic artifacts including vintage phones, large paper lanterns, and even pop art of Hillsdale College President Larry Arnn, the the Womb-mates decided to enjoy a home-cooked meal and formal activities in their house.
“We got into the theme of making food ourselves, and setting up a long table in the living room,” Sinclair said. “This is when Womb Formal really became a genuine thing.”
Sinclair, a former member of the Delta Tau Delta fraternity who served as the fraternity social chair, came up with the idea from a formal he had once planned for the fraternity.
“The Greeks are really on to something,” Sinclair said. “They really did provide some sort of inspiration, and the idea would have never occurred if Greek houses didn’t do it.”
The main tradition surrounding Womb Formal is “toasts,” where initially every member of the Womb will make a toast to the fellow housemates, the Womb itself, and then his date. Afterwards, each date makes a toast to the Womb and to his date. They then end with the “long toast,” where one guest will make a personal toast to each person at the table.
Sophomore Peter Takach, who will live off-campus in the Womb next year made a toast, said “I will not disappoint you gentlemen! I promise to carry on the tradition and legacy of the Womb!”
The Womb, for the students that live off-campus in the house, means much more to them than merely a residence. They say they would consider it a “home,” and Womb Formal is a means of showing their appreciation for the house.
“This house did change us, and in the future we won’t be able to live with friends like we do, now,” Sinclair said. “This won’t last forever.”