Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
Support independent student journalism. Support independent student journalism. Support independent student journalism.
The Dartmouth
April 14, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

End of Term Formalities

A freshman writer attends his first formal and reports on the experience.


As I rummaged through my overly stuffed wardrobe in desperation, my situation was becoming increasingly dire. How could I possibly attend a formal with not a suit in sight? It was a rash oversight on my part: four days ago at our Mirror meeting, I had volunteered to write an insider’s perspective on Kappa Delta Epsilon sorority’s winter term formal — purely for the sake of journalism. I had, however, failed to consider my lack of any clothes that could be considered “formal.” 

While I prepared for the upcoming event, I was brought back to the final days of winterim as I scrambled to stuff heavy coats and winter clothes into my suitcase. “Pshh,” I scoffed at my mom, “I won’t need a suit or anything, not like I’ll be going to any formals.” While it saved me the suitcase space to stuff in one more sweater, I was now regretting that decision. 

I then set off on a mission to acquire one from my friends. As it turns out, they were just as helpless as I was: many had no shirts either, and those who did have shirts that were horribly wrinkled or, in one case, with a suspicious stain on the collar. Finally, after hours of searching, I managed to borrow one from my lovely neighbor. Put together with my nicest pants and shoes, it made an outfit that was halfway passable. 

So with my outfit finally set, I made my way to the basement. Being in the basement was an experience: after freezing on the walk over, I was plunged into the steamy clamor. Despite being almost the only freshman in a sea of upperclassmen, I quickly made friends with two ’24s who promptly destroyed me in a game of pong — it was close, I swear. 

Finally, as the clock struck eight, my newfound friends and I began the trek to the Hanover Inn, along with a mass exodus of people stumbling in heels and other uncomfortable shoes. When we first arrived, I was disappointed to find that it appeared to have the energy of a middle school dance: a handful of people were bunched in the corner. 

Luckily, the ballroom quickly filled up and became more lively. Even better, I discovered what the original crowd was really up to — they were, in fact, congregated around an amazing table of appetizers. 

Having not eaten dinner, we descended ravenously on the table, shoving egg rolls, chicken sandwiches and ricotta toast in our faces with reckless abandon. 

Unfortunately, Eleanor Schifino ’24 faced some conflict at the appetizer table. She reported having “an emotional relationship with the tomato soup shooters” and having no choice but to “elbow a girl” to get the last one. The appetizers were sadly such a hot commodity that they vanished quickly — within only thirty minutes, the crowd had eaten everything the Inn had to offer. 

Like myself, Jess Chiriboga ’24 was disappointed, lamenting the disappearance of the appetizers like the “yummy cheeseburger sliders with bacon.” 

Despite our appetizers problem, we found many other fun things, quickly making our way to the photobooth. Donning obnoxiously large sunglasses and feather boas, we happily took the most atrocious pictures ever. It was ironic just how unphotogenic the professionally taken pictures made me look.

Even better, I received an insider tip from another formal-goer, who sought drama at the photobooth. 

“My favorite thing is to scroll through all the photos. There’s a little tea sometimes, like who’s posing with who,” she said. 

Making our way back to the dance floor, the lights dimmed and the energy began to pick up. Luke House ’24, who I interviewed randomly at a table off the dance floor, said that he just wanted to “bring the energy” and enjoy all the “well dressed, good looking people” at the formal. 

Chiriboga was a bit confused by the initial lack of energy, but quickly began to enjoy the dance. 

“I’m here for Usher, I’m here for throwback hits, I’m here for dancing. I need the dance floor to be popping,” she said. While she was disappointed at first, she later tore it up on the dance floor, saying that “it just took some time.” 

Later in the evening, we had a blast dancing on the increasingly slippery floor and belting out songs ranging from Taylor Swift and Celine Dion. 

Schifino described the deep experience of our shared Celine moment, saying, “that song overtakes my body and soul. I black out when I hear it and it becomes my only focus.” 

After many hours of partying, my new friends and I made a pit stop at the Hop to supplement the disappeared appetizers. As we laughed over quesos and sweet potato fries, I knew that this had been one of my greatest nights of winter term. 

With all the craziness and dancing, I am so glad I got the opportunity to attend this formal — strictly for journalism, of course. From stealing feather boas from the photo booth, to slipping around on the dance floor, to making new friends at the formal, I know this is one night I’ll never forget. Maybe the real formal wasn’t the dance but the sliders we ate along the way. 

Eleanor Schifino is a member of The Dartmouth staff.