Watch: Swarthmore Transforms into Hogwarts for Annual Yule Ball

by Camila Ryder '13
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For a few magical days earlier this month, Swarthmore lived up to its comparison to Hogwarts with the return of the Yule Ball, the College's Harry Potter-themed winter formal. Featuring dancing, musical performances, delicious food and holiday fun, the Yule Ball brought a much-needed respite before the finals season commences.

Taking its name from the event in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the third annual Yule Ball originated as a spontaneous idea by a group of students. Kat Clark '12 described her experience in staging previous Yule Ball celebrations, which she and her friends hoped to develop into a new Swarthmore tradition.

"We thought it would be fun to have a campus-wide celebration in preparation of the holidays, drawing inspiration from the Yule Ball in Harry Potter," Clark wrote. With a small band of students organizing the entertainment, baking treats, and decorating Sharples with wintery magic, the Yule Ball debuted as a winter formal where students and faculty could mingle and dance in their fanciest attire while savoring delicious food.

This year's Yule Ball followed tradition, serving up its usual array of Harry Potter-themed desserts, such as Chocolate Frogs, Peppermint Toads, Cockroach Clusters, Pumpkin Pasties, and Treacle Tarts. Musical performances included carols by student a capella groups and a special guest performance by wizard rocker Alex Carpenter. Students danced the night away to the beats of DJ Gabe Benjamin '15 (also known as DJ Glitter Bomb).

New to this year's formal was the myriad of events leading up to the Yule Ball, including The Phoenix, the College's weekly student newspaper, transforming into The Daily Prophet (the wizard newspaper in the Harry Potter series). Swarthmore's Quidditch team hosted a tutorial lesson on Saturday afternoon on the ins and outs of the game. The Yule Ball Committee also hosted waltz lessons and screenings of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. As Dean of Students Liz Braun said, there was "so much to do, with so little time!"

Though the Yule Ball takes its theme from Harry Potter, Yule Ball Committee director Yana List '14, a biology major from Bryn Mawr, Pa., notes that the ball is intended as "more of a winter formal, where everybody comes in their fancy clothes - students, professors, everybody. The other things that go around the Yule Ball, but not the ball itself, are much more Harry Potter fandom related." List and the committee aimed to make the ball enjoyable for everyone, even if students are not ardent fans of the Harry Potter books and movies.

Though Swarthmore may be worlds away from the magical realm of Harry Potter, the Yule Ball offered those who attended a festive celebration and lighthearted cheer.