With billowing, heavenly white curtains loftily luxuriating over the dance floor, elbow-high circle tables tightly wound in cloth from the top down that emitted a luminous white light from within, and elegantly bare tree ornaments endowed by minimalist silver bracelets on every table—not even mentioning the symmetrically placed glowing green lighting exhibits surrounding the outer corners of the dance floor, NIC’s Student Union Building dining area proved itself surprisingly receptive to the gala sensibilities of the event’s organizers, who brought in and worked with event planners Design Events to create the perfect combination of thrift and extravagance: the Spring Formal.
It’s kind of a thing where we get to come for an evening and be formal, but also have a lot of fun and be relaxed. Formal, but relaxed,” said Eric Wittenmyer, a Student Events Organizer.
The dance was marketed as an “evening of elegance & fun.”
That promise seemed to be met with a live, jazzy big band provided by Jazz Northwest, a NIC Food Service-catered three-course meal, and free dance lessons from NIC dance instructor Sheryl Bentz-Sipe and student dance extraordinaire Clyde Mooney on how to do traditional and box Fox Trotting were featured.
Suiting this scene well were the black-tie suits and various extravagant gowns adorned by all of the cheerful faces attending—of which there were many.
The dance floor was very active for the majority of the night (except that few could resist the first course), and the tables were occupied enthusiastically.
The first meal was a salad, followed by lightly spiced potato bites, fried asparagus, and Roasted Rosemary Chicken doused in an acidic Lime Beurre Blanc sauce that perfectly molded with the chicken’s fatty skin to seemingly melt in the mouth into a slightly thick consistency of gelatin coating atop the rich, juicy chicken.
As an alternative for vegetarians was a Grilled Vegetable Napoleon with Marinara Sauce. This was followed by a delicious crème brulee that played as a tabletop to blue and red raspberries, which left a mild imprint upon the hard caramel crust when pulled off. All meals were gluten free.
Elegance and detail was key to this event, but so was the attendance. “The turnout was phenomenal,” said Wittenmyer. “My parents came down, my friend Quinne’s parents came down as well, and I know a number of other people who brought their families.”
The students attending reflected the sentiment.
“I think it has culture, and dancing!” said student Wade Erban. “Which are both fantastic things if done properly, and it’s been done properly!”
“I really like the addition of an actual jazz band because I think it makes things a little less gimmicky and more professional,” said Jasha Sandford, 21, Post Falls, General Studies.
And mixed in with the slow dances and romanticized overtones of 50’s-era standards came up-tempo glitz hits of the swingin’ sixties—bodies jiving and waggling about accordingly.
The set even closed with a hard surfer rock bop.
While some students certainly kept on their dancing shoes with an illustrated mastery of the moves, there were also some obligatory kicking of those figurative shoes off to form dance circles of improvised moves and novelty moves, such as the Watusi, the Twist, or the Chicken.
Also a bit on the weirder side of the night was a small issue the food service had to take care of—fruit thievery.
Somebody approached at least two tables and stole all of the raspberries from available crème brulees while those with reserved seats at those tables were dancing.
This seemed a small matter held up to the beauty and attentiveness given the rest of the night though.
The event didn’t set itself up, of course. The posters have been up since early February—we’ve all seen them, and perhaps a fleeting curiosity went unanswered for those who didn’t attend. Student Events have been hard at work.
According to Wittenmyer, the dance has been a labor of love.
“Tiana Wood has been working on this for months, seen the progress made on it, and she fought tooth and nail for every aspect of it to be perfect,” Wittenmyer said.
“It’s turned out even better than I expected, because there was so much opposition—you never really know—it was a total experiment, but I feel like it went above and beyond what I expected,” said Wood, a member of student events.
This was the first time an event like this was hosted. Wood says she hopes to see the project become an annual event, wherein the money made would see delivery to charities—whereas this first time, it went to covering costs.
Wood said that she had a lot of opposition from a lot of people.
“That probably discouraged me from doing this event, but I just really believe that people would want the opportunity—I mean, we’re not in New York City, so we don’t get this opportunity every weekend, like most people do over there,” said Wood. “So it’s an opportunity I really wanted to pursue. I’ve been treating it like my baby for six months, I’ve put my entire heart and everything into it.”
The Spring Formal was held on March 22 with a dinner & dance at 7 p.m., $10.00 a ticket, and $20 for non-students.
The tickets were sold to what appeared to be maximum capacity—the room was full and the people were enthusiastic.