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The Dartmouth
June 23, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Alice Unchained: Once upon a formal

It's that time of the term again! Our houses, teams and improv groups are all forcing us to suspend our inhibitions and search for a costar for our future "Fall Formal OMG!" Facebook photo albums.

Formals are funny little events here at Dartmouth. They are the self-conscious love child of the sophisticated "black tie" and the oh-god-this-is-awkward "middle school dance."

All the ingredients of Junior High are present: the school bus, chicken fingers, DJ Rockin' Lou ... and these ingredients are stirred up with suits/ties, open bars and, of course, "the date invite." The resulting mixture is flambed with several hundred gallons of alcohol --and voila!

Formals are the one opportunity for Dartmouth students to justifiably ask someone out on a date -- besides, of course, the highly attended "Date Auctions" that are held every once in a while to raise money for "Charity X" (i.e. our poor, starving social lives).

I suck at getting dates to formals. I suspect this might be because I just haven't figured out a good way to ask boys to go with me.

For my first sorority formal sophomore year, I decided that I could avoid that scary stomach-sinking feeling of rejection by mass-blitzing an array of recipient-list-suppressed hotties with the subject line: "First one to blitz back scores a date with ME!" Needless to say, I got more than one immediate reply-- with the subject line: "Take Me Off This List, Please."

When that tactic failed, I tried the Food Court Challenge. This time-honored practice involves bolting to Foco minutes before the formal starts and recruiting a rando diner to be your date.

I gave it a shot, but apparently no one noticed me standing on the table in my poofy dress, begging for someone to step up and go with me. Food Court Larry, who was around at the time, offered to stand in as my Romeo. I was totally thrilled to have finally found my knight in shining armor, but then Larry canceled on me when he suddenly remembered he had this thing to do.

Needless to say, I was heartbroken. But don't fret -- every fairy tale has its happy ending.

One of the girls in the house set me up with Andre, this really chill bottle of champagne. Most people think Andre is a totally gross brut, but we had a really great time together. Granted, he was kind of cheap, but he had a dry, sweet sense about him, and he could make me laugh at even the stupidest stuff. He swept me off my feet a couple times, and he didn't step on my toes when I danced around with him. The best part was that when I woke up next to him on the floor of a school bus headed to Lyme the next morning, it wasn't awkward at all!

Dates are great accessories to complete any formal outfit. Their value is only surpassed by the importance of a hot dress (that no one else is wearing). You might think I sound kind of shallow right now, but you have to understand -- formals come but once a term and mine is on Saturday, so this is important: Abigail Medvin, if you wear that turquoise taffeta sparkle dress that we both bought at the Bella Sorority Sale last week, I will totally de-friend you on Facebook (and I won't delete it from my mini feed so everyone in the world will see that you're a traitor).

I will also make a dedicated effort to flirt my face off with your formal date while you're booting in the bathroom because I poisoned your dessert.

After that, I'll summon Rumpelstiltskin and arrange for him to swipe your first-born child, so your spawn won't be indoctrinated in your outfit-copying ways. Do you really think that stupid dress is worth it?

I am willing to negotiate: If I can wear the turquoise taffeta, you can borrow my sequined tube dress, okay? I'll even throw in a pair of glass slippers and my little brother, Pete. He's a super-sweet AD pledge and he'll totally match those shoes.

One of the biggest perks of formals is that you get to spend a little time off at exotic destinations like the Bates Mansion, Whaleback Mountain and Club Elektra. Every year, some house manages to get Dartmouth formals banned from whatever location they choose to destroy. Consequentially, the places where these things can be held becomes increasingly limited as time goes on.

Since we can't have the party at the Hotel Coolidge or at The Orient anymore, I've been trying to convince our formal chair to get the party set up at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical center. It is a gorgeous building and we could probably rent out the ballroom-like emergency room for the night. Plus, we could get a really high-class caterer with all of that money we'd be saving on gas and ambulance fees.

Anyway, I still haven't locked down a Prince Charming for tomorrow, so I'm going to go blitz my fairy godmother and see if she's got any frogs lying around who don't have an "exam"/ "really important thing"/ "pong game" to attend to on Saturday night.