History Swings

  • Kathy Thornton
  • Kathy Thornton
  • Kathy Thornton
  • Kathy Thornton
November 26, 2012
The History Society invited students to swing and jive—re-enacting the World War II phenomenon known as Blitz Ball.

The police box near the entrance to Faculty Lounge in Hodson Hall wasn’t really a time machine, but it sure felt like guests to the Blitz Ball were transported back to 1940s London. Red, white, and blue decorations draped across the ceiling above the dance floor and a huge UK flag hung near the DJ booth, from which era-authentic jazz and swing music emanated. Students took to the dance floor in dresses and suits, faux military uniforms and Rosie the Riveter-esque denim outfits to teach fellow partygoers the steps and have a rollicking good time.

The Blitz Ball tradition harkens back to the height of World War II, when the German air force frequently conducted air raids over London and other cities. The dances allowed people to forget about the hardship, rationing, and worries of wartime life, if only for an evening.

“My university back home would have one every year for charity,” says Nicole Bester, an international student from Royal Holloway University of London and a member of the College’s History Society. She and her friend Jamie Mansbridge hosted the event and were involved in all stages of planning.

“I think it’s really awesome,” says Brady Townsend, another Blitz Ball host. “I really like World War II history and it seems like they’re really trying to bring it to life here.”

The dance held in mid-November was a collaborative effort among the International Relations Club, Phi Alpha Theta (the history honor society), and the History Society.

Attendees were asked to make donations to the Veterans Association, an organization dedicated to helping members of this country’s armed services, and they rose to the challenge, raising $240 in one evening. Some students who were unable to attend later expressed interest in donating to the cause.

The smiles, laughter, and applause that defined the Blitz Ball helped reinforce the notion that charity can be fun, too.

“Overall the event was a huge success, the turnout was fantastic, and people say that they really enjoyed themselves,” Bester said. “Let’s hope it becomes an annual event on the calendar of the History Society.”


— Emily Blackner ’13

Last modified on Jan. 7th, 2013 at 4:16pm by .