Get Ready for Gala: Advice from A Senior


Me (right) and my roommate before Gala 2019. Credit: Olivia Dimond/The Bates Student

Despite being in the middle of an anxiety spiral for most of Gala weekend in 2019, the dance quickly rose to one of my favorite Bates traditions. I have (perhaps selfishly) long-awaited its return so that I could make a triumphant, anxiety attack-less debut in a dress I feel hot in. So I was ecstatic when the news broke that it would return. 

It occurred to me recently that only approximately 25% of the student body really knows what Gala is. I’m sure you can only piece together pretty quickly what “80s” or “Halloween dance” entails, but this one might be a little different. I’ve been fielding questions from underclassmen friends for weeks now about the event, so I thought I should impart some of my hard-won wisdom to help prepare all of you.

Q: What *is* Gala?

Gala is one of the mainstays of the pre-COVID-19-Bates social calendar. It is a night to get dressed up, dance, eat fancy food and maybe see your professors with their families. For more information on what this year’s festivities will look like, I’ll direct you to Aneeza Ahmad’s article.

Q: How dressed up are we talking? What do I need to wear?

Guys will wear suits (and maybe tuxes, if they’re feeling extra fancy). Girls tend to wear semi-formal dresses, usually on the shorter side, though there’ll be a couple floor-length ones, too.

Q: …Can I wear what I wore to prom, or is that out?

I mean, I did, regardless of whether or not it was “in.” I bought a new dress this year, though, that I’m very pumped about. And if you’re embarrassed about it being what you wore to prom…don’t tell anyone and no one will know. That’s the beauty of college!

Q: Speaking of prom, like, do I need a date? Is it that kind of vibe?

ABSOLUTELY NOT! I think it’s best explained like this: if you were to bring a date to any Bates dance, Gala would make the most sense, but it is in NO way required or even expected. I don’t know anyone who had one (that wasn’t, like, in a committed relationship so it was implied).

In fact, if I see or hear of any sort of promposal type stuff happening on this campus in the wake of this article, I will use my considerable influence (which I’ll obviously have if you start doing that) to eject you from the event. Because that’s a power I have. Obviously.

Q: What’s the music deal?

In 2019, we had a swing band set up in the Gray Cage. There was an “after party” in Alumni Gym that started about one hour after Gala that had a less traditional vibe. But again, see above for more info on this year’s celebration.

Q: Wait, a swing band? What if I don’t swing dance?

Who cares! Make your friends dance with you no matter how horrible you all are. If you’ve got ‘em, put those cotillion, debutante skills to good use—I know I can’t be the only one who had to suffer my Friday nights wearing white gloves and dancing with teenage boys I didn’t know.

But if you’re really that worried about it, I’ll teach you the pretzel.

Q: Is the food really that good?

Yes. There might even be enough for Sunday brunch leftovers (and we all know Sunday brunch can be hit or miss, so let’s pray there are).

Q: Look, between the current Bates Plague going around, COVID-19 concerns, and/or my general distaste for events like this, I don’t really want to go. Will I feel left out?

No. Always put yourself first. And if anyone does make you feel bad, I’ve got a pretty good stink eye for them and a warm hug for you.

Tickets for Gala (happening April 2) are available on BatesEngage. Get yours soon and hit me (or your senior friends) up with any questions!