The dazzle of everybody dressed up for a winter dance was prevalent, and Valentine’s Day was just around the corner. In the Commons, which was now charmed with soft lighting and stocked tables food, people laughed and socialized. This is what the night of Sadie Hawkins was like, which was a successful event that used to run about a decade back.
In the fall, everybody is hyped for homecoming. Then later in the spring, it’s all about JDD and prom. But isn’t it a little bit odd that there’s no social dance in the winter? To many, it’s perfectly normal. But that hasn’t always been the case. East actually had a tradition of many vibrant winter social events that mysteriously ceased running. There used to be a Sadie Hawkins, which was a dance around Valentine’s day, a winter ball around Christmas time, and even a winter spirit week, which was similar to homecoming. A decade back, these events used to bring much excitement and spirit to the school as everybody got together to participate in a fun week of dress up days, dress up days, and fun events after school. As it turns out, the reason behind this drastic change in school culture has many different sources, all stemming from dancing style to everybody’s increasingly busy schedule.
The Sadie Hawkins dance used to be more of an informal dance. It used to have an attendance of 700 students, which was nearly the attendance of homecoming with 1,000 students.
But now, the months of January and February are desolate of these once-flourishing activities. To imagine having another winter successful winter dance would be a stretch, as the last one ended four years ago due to a very low attendance.
When asked about having another winter dance, some responded with a general disinterest towards the outdated event. When asked whether or not a dance winter dance would be a valuable event, Brianna Hoover, a senior, said, “There’s already homecoming, JDD, and prom. Having another one would be pointless. Why spend more money on dresses and tickets?”
Sharing a similar perspective, sophomores Aditya and Kevin Wang, along with junior Anthony, agreed that they had little interest in attending a winter dance. They speculated that the main people who would attend such an event would be the those who were responsible for planning and coordinating it, which suggests that people uninvolved in a winter dance would remain uninvolved. They offered a prospective reason as to why a dance would be more a chore to attend, saying that there’s already midterms in January. In addition to the play/musical every February, these events take students’ attention away from a winter dance.
Tanner Mearns, a senior, also doesn’t seem to think that the event would be well attended. He stated, “It’s January, people are busy doing other things. Going to another dance wouldn’t really make much sense.”
Peter, a junior, showed interest in a winter dance, saying that it’d be great if we had one again. He shared these thoughts by saying, “If we hyped it up, we’d have a high attendance.”
Sophomores Ariel and Alexa also expressed interest in having a mid-year event. Ariel said, “It’d be fun to have an event that’d be inclusive to all grade levels,” as opposed to JDD and prom, which are catered only to upperclassmen.
A poll of 78 East students showed that most students are indifferent about winter dances, with the bar graph being a bell curve. However, this survey showed that students might have slight interest in attending, with 40% of students showing interest in a dance as opposed to a 30% showing a disinterest. The rest of the 30% stating that they are neutral.
The reasons as to why these fun activities ceased to run could seem initially unclear. Mrs. Yermas, advisor of the Class of 2022 and Mr. Grey, vice principal, speculated on the possible cause behind this disappearance. ‘‘Having things going on during the school day disrupts class time,‘‘ said Mrs. Yermas.
Winterfest, midterms, and the play were all priorities that took precedence over other winter activities. She theorizes that the culture has gotten more busy, with more people involved in individual extracurricular activities as opposed to school wide events.
Mr. Grey, although having only been employed at East for two years, hypothesizes the same thing. Students are busier now than they been in the past,‘‘ Mr. Grey states, citing activities such as athletics, music, tutors, working. ‘‘There‘s so many different things pulling students in different directions. The winter dance might be a casualty of that.‘‘
When asked whether or not a new winter dance would be beneficial, he says that ‘‘opportunities for students to interact outside of the normal instructional day‘‘ are advantageous. However, he points out that the students must be invested, and are participating positively for there to be benefits. He adds, ‘‘Events cannot be forced, rather, they must develop organically.‘‘ When asked on whether or not the winter dance tradition was something that should be preserved, Mrs. Yermas stated, “It’s good, but something has to give. At some point, you can’t do anything. It’s not bad and god, you just can’t do everything.”
East faculty members remember the widespread success of these winter events. Mrs. Piatek, a former student council advisor, recalled that the dances 15 to 16 years ago used to be a cherished occurrence.
When asked why Sadie Hawkins’s popularity fell, Mrs. Piatek stated that the principal would not allow inappropriate dancing, such as grinding, to take place. Mrs. Putzer, current student council advisor of the Class of 2018, agreed with this statement, saying that grinding was a major reason Sadie Hawkins ceased to occur.
English teacher Mr. Huber recollects that some students saw no point in going to a regulated school dance if they could go to a dance venue where grinding was allowed. Issues with inappropriate dancing are nothing new: even a decade back, school administration ran into problems with it.
But Sadie Hawkins is not just the only event to disappear. Plenty of school events went out of business. Many fun activities have historically taken place. One of them being a sumo wrestling night after school, which took place in the Commons. Mrs. Piatek even remembers having a fun Hawaiian dance night one year, which featured a DJ and was comprised of carnival-like games in the gym. Mrs. Yermas, student council advisor for the Class of 2004, recalled many memories of fun Winter Spirit weeks. These spirit weeks were basically another homecoming spirit week, but in the winter. It was at the same time as Sadie Hawkins and Valentine’s. This week was filled with different themes, such as a dress up day during carnation sales and Hush Day.
Hush Day was a fun challenge that was tested how long students could stay silent during the day. Mr. Huber recalls that Hush Day was a day where students would wear cut-out snowmen around their necks. If they spoke to another, they gave a snowman to the person they spoke to.
Even during winter week, students would vote for courts, which was a process similar to voting for homecoming king and queens.
It was clear the East’s student life used to be rich with events. Now with the increase of grinding other student commitments, and a busier culture, school events such as Sadie Hawkins have faded away. Perhaps this transition is beneficial because it allows students to focus more on different facets of their life. But perhaps we have missed out on a fun and eventful school year, where the student body was able to make long-lasting memories. If so, who’s to say that we can’t change this in the future? It’s up to us as students to make our high school years worth it. Maybe we’re already doing just that.