It is a rare opportunity for many of us students to be able to dress up in our finest clothing and spend an evening dancing to classical music.
With Halloween finally rolling around, a touch of classic elegance is added with a masquerade ball, a lovely alternative to the usual costume parties and other activities commonly associated with the holiday. The 22nd Annual Wild Goose Ball took place Saturday, giving students and community members a chance to experience the classical and romantic beauty of a ballroom dance.
Started in 1984, the Wild Goose Ball began as a joint venture between the student folk dancing club at CSU and the Friends of Traditional Dance, a non-profit organization that continues to sponsor the ball today.
Randy Lumb, a long-time organizer of the ball and publicist for this year's event, remembered when he and fellow folk dancer, Lex Krausz, first envisioned hosting a ball in Fort Collins.
"Lex had just returned from a ball at Estes Park at the Stanley Hotel," Lumb says. "He was very excited about it, and we decided we wanted to do something here."
The name "Wild Goose" came from this early brainstorm, when Krausz pointed out the wild geese that often fly overhead during the autumn season.
The ball grew in popularity over the years, so much so that a second dance was added during spring 1983, the Wild Asparagus Ball. Both balls continue to be popular, with Lumb estimating 300 to 350 attendees.
The popularity of the balls comes in part, suggests Lumb, from the timeless elegance and enjoyment that participants take in the dances. With music supplied by the Mostly Strauss Orchestra, a 50-piece orchestra that performs all around the state, Lumb says people are excited to be "dancing to quite elegant music." Performing waltzes, polkas and even some 20th century dance music (such as big band tunes to swing to), Lumb says everyone has a chance to get out on the floor with a partner and swirl about the room in traditional style.
With the dances being relatively easy for beginners to pick up, Lumb notes everyone at the ball usually ends up dancing. "You don't have to be an expert dancer to pull it off," Lumb says. "The dances from back then are surprisingly simple. You'd think the complex music would have complex dances, but no."
While about 20 percent of the ball attendees are college students, Lumb says the dancing is perhaps best suited to this age group.
"They are aerobic dances," Lumb laughs. "You have to be in good shape to do this stuff."
While offering a chance to dress up in formal wear or costume, the ball also offered a chance for romance.
"There have been some matches made in heaven here," Lumb says of past balls. Indeed, the style of dancing seems to facilitate a connection between partners.
"It's helpful with the spinning dances to stare into each others eyes, for balance, and that can transform into getting to know each other," Lumb notes.
Ball attendees also got to know each other during the opening Grand March, which took place at 8 p.m., a traditional ball activity that allows participants to walk around the room, meet one another and see the array of clothing and costumes.
Many students will attend the ball each year, as well as many people in costume (indeed, a costume contest with prizes such as a stay in the Armstrong Hotel such as what was being conducted this year) and continue to take part in a classic and classy tradition.
A unique experience, the Wild Goose Masquerade Ball offered a chance to step back to old time elegance in music, dress and perhaps a chance to find romance out on the dance floor.