As a senior, I am a seasoned veteran of high school dances. While I’m still no expert, three years of Winter Formals have bestowed upon me at least a few tips and tricks for a smooth night.
One thing I do know is that there are two types of girls at Hockaday: those who enjoy Winter Formal and those who do not. If I were to draw a Venn diagram of this phenomenon, the only (and quite conditional) overlapping point would be that both parties enjoy the cheesecake cubes they always have at the refreshments table (I’m pretty sure they’re there every year).
And I’ll admit it: I’m of the latter group. The only reason I thought my freshman year Winter Formal was fun was because of the extremely low expectations I had for that night. A Hockadaisy who had only learned of the existence of Winter Formal a week before the announcement of the theme, I had no idea what was going on. (Freshman bus? Asking a date? Why is this dance named after that Relient K song?)
However, based on my experience with the eighth grade Valentine’s dance, I was sure that the entire night would consist of trying to squeeze into awkwardly exclusive dance circles and subsequently giving up and retreating to refreshments. Lather, rinse, repeat.
So let’s start from the beginning: pictures. Also known as the time during which your parents think of every possible way to position you, your date and your group on the stairs, in the foyer, beside the pool, on the front lawn, in front of the limo, inside the limo, and the list can go on as long as you can think of a preposition.
There are two ways you can come out of the chaos that ensues from continuous flash and “say cheese” mantras: either with good pictures or with bad ones. The picture-taking process may become tedious after 10 minutes of smiling, but it’s much better to stick it out than to look back on your Winter Formal pictures and wonder what traumatizing event must have happened to you on the way to picture-taking.
Your parents will want to take pictures of you; there is no stopping this. So if you can’t beat them, join them. To minimize the amount of time this takes, make a deal to take a maximum of three pictures for each pose.
After dinner, your limo will probably take you to the Winter Formal venue. The next 10 minutes are the most disorienting of the night. The few minutes after arrival at the dance is something I like to call your “Five Minutes of Fame.” People will start giving you hugs and greeting you and asking you to introduce your date and take a picture with him. But as all celebrity D-listers know, the attention never lasts.
After those five minutes of greetings and small talk, you will be left alone to navigate the perilous jungle of a school dance. This is the best time to stick close to your group. The alternative, trying to join a dance circle alone, is probably the most awkward experience you will ever encounter.
No one can hear you say anything unless you tap him on the shoulder; no one will let you in because there is never any room; and thus you are left dancing alone, just one step shy of looking like you are part of a group. Sticking with your friends can prevent any of this from happening. If you’re not the dancing type, you can always find something else to do—play poker or scavenge for drinks, for example.
Yes, awkward encounters with acquaintances, strangers and teachers will occur at Winter Formal. I don’t think I could actually list the possibilities; it is just inevitable when you stuff a room with over 800 people. But no matter what happens, I contest that you will find refuge in the bathroom. When in doubt, just excuse yourself from your date and head on over. He may think you have a bladder problem, but a break from the chaos outweighs this piece of judgment. At least, in my opinion.
But above all of these tips, I really think that a positive attitude is what makes Winter Formal fun. If you can keep calm and carry on, nothing will deter your night.