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Yule Ball 2011

Yule Ball
Kat Clark
Kat Clark '12 is an English literature and studio art double major from Racine, Wis. She serves on the editorial board for The Daily Gazette and is co-manager of Swarthmore's Media Center. You can see more of her photography at http://katclark.org

There is no doubt that traditions shape our experiences as Swarthmore students. Each year, new students begin their time at Swarthmore with First Collection in the amphitheater, and seniors end their time here by processing into the amphitheater for Commencement. In between, there are a host of traditions such as Crum Regatta, the Pterodactyl Hunt, Mustache November, McCabe Mile, and Midnight Breakfast that make life at Swarthmore memorable.

Last year, a few friends and I dreamed up an idea for a new tradition on campus. 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. A small group of us came together to bake treats, line up entertainment, and transform Sharples Dining Hall into the Great Hall of Hogwarts. In the moments before the first Yule Ball, we waited nervously in our formal wear, worried that no one would show. But more than 1,000 people attended last year's Yule Ball, and a tradition was born.

We recreated the magic this year, and the Ball was once again held the weekend before finals. The Yule Ball Committee grew into a group of twelve students, with four directors: Holly Kinnamont '12, Yana List '14, Patrick Ross '15, and me. The event grew, too—we began the planning in September and organized an entire weekend of events: Harry Potter Quizzo, Waltz lessons, a Tri-Wizard Tournament, and a takeover of the dining hall. As Yana says, "We took on so much more this year. I loved playing the Professor Sprout to Patrick's Dumbledore during the Tri-Wizard Tournament, and I was completely struck with terror when the Death Eaters stormed into Sharples."

Patrick, our youngest director, helped recruit freshmen to the planning process. "When I came to Swarthmore last summer as a prospective student, my tour guide excitedly told me about the Yule Ball, and it was consistently the only tidbit about the school that I relayed to family and friends," he says. "I even asked my cousin, a designer, and my grandmother, a seamstress, to make me a pair of dress robes for the occasion."

The Yule Ball directors
The Yule Ball directors: Holly Kinnamont '12, Patrick Ross '15, Yana List '14, and Kat Clark '12

This year's menu included chocolate frogs, peppermint toads, licorice wands, and cauldron cakes, all prepared by students with support from Sharples Dining Hall staff. The College's a cappella groups sang carols, and DJ Ian Anderson '13 and wizard rock band Tonks and the Aurors kept the crowd dancing. Floating candles were suspended in the air along with shimmering blue lights, making for a magical transformation of Sharples. Students, faculty, and staff elected to wear fancy attire or wizard-inspired costumes, and Elèna Ruyter '14 set up a booth near the pumpkin juice to snap photos of all the guests.

We hope this tradition will continue for many years, offering holiday cheer and a sense of community to Swarthmore students before final exams. Holly puts it best: "The Yule Ball is much more than a Harry Potter themed event: it's a chance for the student body to come together and celebrate everything that's going on in our lives at an alcohol-free event. As Swatties, we're constantly pushing ourselves to make our dreams realities—that counts when we have fun, too! The Yule Ball has been such a magical experience both years that I've worked on it, and I'll remember that magic for years to come."

I'll remember it, too, as I graduate this spring and leave behind a place I've come to love. I captured some of this year's magic with my camera, and here are some of my favorite moments.

Bellatrix Lestrange (Naia Poyer '14) threatens a table of students with her wand

Bellatrix Lestrange (Naia Poyer '14) threatens a table of students with her wand

Photo by Photo by Kat Clark '12
Becky Griest '15 and Simon Sung Min Ma '12 participate in waltz lessons before the ball

Becky Griest '15 and Simon Sung Min Ma '12 participate in waltz lessons before the ball

Photo by Photo by Kat Clark '12
Lumos!

"Lumos!"

Photo by Photo by Kat Clark '12
Students watch as four of Swarthmore's a capella groups sing carols

Students watch as four of Swarthmore's a capella groups sing carols

Photo by Photo by Kat Clark '12
A capella group Essence of Soul performs John Legend's Don't Have to Change

A capella group Essence of Soul performs John Legend's Don't Have to Change

Photo by Photo by Kat Clark '12
Wizard rock band Tonks and the Aurors performs

Wizard rock band Tonks and the Aurors performs

Photo by Photo by Kat Clark '12
A view of the Ball from the balcony in Sharples

A view of the Ball from the balcony in Sharples

Photo by Photo by Kat Clark '12
Students admire the food selection, including Treacle Tarts displayed in the shape of the Deathly Hallows

Students admire the food selection, including Treacle Tarts displayed in the shape of the Deathly Hallows

Photo by Photo by Kat Clark '12
Emma Thomas '13 and friends, most of whom will be abroad next semester, enjoy this time together before heading home for the holidays

Emma Thomas '13 and friends, most of whom will be abroad next semester, enjoy this time together before heading home for the holidays

Photo by Photo by Kat Clark '12
Tasha Lewis '12 and Jes Downing '12 embarce the Harry Potter theme and reveal their Dark Marks

Tasha Lewis '12 and Jes Downing '12 embarce the Harry Potter theme and reveal their Dark Marks

Photo by Photo by Kat Clark '12
Wes Willison '12, who won the Tri-Wizard Tournament, shares his prize (a Gryffindor beanie) with Hana Lehmann '13

Wes Willison '12, who won the Tri-Wizard Tournament, shares his prize (a Gryffindor beanie) with Hana Lehmann '13

Photo by Photo by Kat Clark '12
Ian Anderson '13 deejays after Tonks and the Aurors

Ian Anderson '13 deejays after Tonks and the Aurors

Photo by Photo by Kat Clark '12

Bellatrix Lestrange (Naia Poyer '14) threatens a table of students with her wand

Photo / Photo by Kat Clark '12
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