Let Their Feet Ache: A Ver(sailles)y Formal Evening


Since her election as the sole Winter Formal chair last November, senior Lily Johnson has been working alongside Student Council and a handful of faculty members to bring to life her visions for the Hockaday Winter Formal dance, which will be held on Feb. 18.

The Winter Formal theme, “Versailles,” was revealed to the public in an Upper School assembly on Jan. 5. However, preparations for the dance started as early as the end of the 2015-16 school year, when the search for venues began.

As the end of the last school year neared, Student Council President Joy Nesbitt, along with Winter Formal faculty sponsors Renee Laffitte, Dara Williams and Vickey Thumlert, started scouting out venue options for the dance. Eventually, they decided upon F.I.G. Downtown and booked the venue last July.

“When we went into F.I.G., I was like ‘This is the one,’” Nesbitt said. “It has all cool sorts of areas so you can make little rooms within the big room. That’s what I liked about it. And it’s also in the city.”

According to Nesbitt, choosing a venue for the dance is one of the more challenging tasks of planning the dance. When selecting one, many influencing factors must be accounted for, such as a comfortable amount of space, an area that will fit the freshman dinner as well as the kitchen staff, and a location that emits an aura of uniqueness.

After the venue was selected, Student Council proposed different themes, agreeing upon the theme of “Versailles” in August. After the theme was chosen, Student Council then sent out an email asking those who were interested in running for the position of Winter Formal chair to plan a fake Winter Formal around the fake theme of “Great Gatsby.” The contestants were to present these fake Winter Formals to Student Council. By making them do so, Student Council was able to obtain a better grasp of how the perspective dance chairs would approach planning the actual dance. The opportunity to run captured Johnson’s attention, as she has always been very passionate when it comes to planning parties and events.

“Everyone always has fun at dances, and since it was my last one, I wanted to make sure that everyone would have a good dance,” Johnson said.

After her appointment as chair in November, Johnson learned of the theme, and has since then slowly been piecing her ideas together for the dance. For weeks now, she has been meeting with Student Council every other week to begin planning Winter Formal.

Williams helps make Johnson’s ideas feasible, as she is mainly in charge of the dance budget as well as booking the venue and other tasks dealing with the logistics of the dance.

“Although the girls choose the venue at the end of last school year, since Lily was appointed chair, we have been planning the dance for about four months,” Williams said.

In order to decorate for the dance, Johnson is leaning towards an elegant, classy look that works well with the sophisticated theme.

“I’m taking the Versailles, Marie Antoinette theme, as you saw with my invitation, and playing with that,” Johnson said.

For instance, Johnson plans to put hydrangeas as centerpieces on the freshmen tables. She also hopes to have many gold, tasteful decorations, such as chandeliers, to fit the French tea party-like theme. There will also be gambling tables, a photo booth and hopefully a caricature artist.

Parents are also involved in planning specific parts of the event. Heather Roberts, freshman Kathleen Roberts’ mother, is the elected Form I parent Winter Formal chair. Unlike the other Forms, all fresh- men attending the dance are required to take a bus to the event, where they then eat a prepared dinner before the other invitees start to arrive. Roberts helps coordinate the specifics concerning the freshman, such as designing the invitations put on the freshmen’s lockers and helping organize the freshmen dinner table de?cor.

“The most challenging thing about planning the dance is trying to keep with the theme, to do nice table decor and invitations, but also to stay within a reasonable budget,” Roberts said.

Now that the dance is just rounding the corner, Johnson, Student Council, Roberts, faculty sponsors and other individuals involved in the planning have been kept busy putting on a dance that others will enjoy. As this is her last Winter Formal dance, Johnson herself hopes that everyone will appreciate and enjoy the large amount of work that has been put into planning it.

“Student Council, myself and all of the moms have been working very hard on the dance, and I think it is definitely going to show,” Johnson said.

– Charlotte Dross – Staff Writer –