by Alumni Relations
In the early days of the Texas Union, students used the ballroom to hold dances on Saturday nights to raise money for the Union programs and expenses. Famous artists such as Frank Sinatra and Louis Armstrong became frequent visitors to campus to perform. While the Texas Union ballroom hosted the majority of these dances, sometimes they were moved to Gregory Gym to accommodate the growing student population, according to Trinity Smith, student adviser of the Student Events Center. When a student fee was implemented in 1945 to pay for Union activities, the necessity for the dances ended.
Fast-forward to 2002, when a group of SEC students decided it would be fun to organize an annual university wide gala to celebrate graduating seniors. Unbeknownst to them that the Union had a history of such events, the SEC created the Orange and White ball.
With the large number of students in attendance at the Orange and White Ball, the event was hosted in Gregory Gym and the committee transformed the gym into an elegant ballroom overnight. Unfortunately, with the passing of time and changes in the economy, the number of students in attendance to the ball has dropped. In 2008, there were approximately 900-1200 students in attendance, a number that dropped in 2009 to a little over 700.
The silver lining? The Texas Union Ballroom was able to play host to this year’s Orange and White Ball—selling out of every ticket. Along with the purchase of a ticket, free dance lessons were given prior to the ball for those with two left feet, or those wanting to brush up on their skills. “It is after all a ball, not a prom.” as many of the student coordinators would say.
At a high school prom, the romp shaking is practically a must. After college, a sort of finesse to the art of a dance is brought to the table, pushing the DJ to a late start. Headliners, the Nash Hernandez Orchestra, put students to dance most of the night with jazzy tunes and of course a classic ballroom feel.
Since a year is needed to plan the event, the committee chair is generally selected right after the dance has taken place and plans for the following ball begin. This year, not only was the Texas Union Ballroom chosen as a perfect place for a smaller number, but also the ambiance it created gave way to something different from the usual gym-turned-ballroom setting. The classy buffet with a variety of selections, the ice sculpture of the tower, and an entrance that would make anyone feel famous highlighted the event.
For the ninth annual Orange and White Ball, the Texas Union ballroom provided the ambiance that brought the elegance and excitement of the 1930s and 1940s Saturday dances to the students of today.
Written by Leslie Garcia