Zion Hodgkin Contributing Writer
Amidst the flashing strobe lights and roaring jams of the last two years, you could almost forget you were standing in a school cafeteria.
Every year, on the last Saturday before Halloween, UMF’s Association for Campus Entertainment (ACE) club transforms the Student Center into a spooky celebration. The Halloween dance has been one of the most anticipated annual events held at the school for the last few years. “A bunch of people show up,” said Madison Vigeant, one of the members of the ACE club putting the event together, “we usually have like 400 to 500 people every year.”
Sarah Szantyr, another member, chimed in saying, “And that includes students at the school, and also guests. I think we usually have about 100 to 150 guests each year.”
Inside the dance, it’s clear which of these students had been there before, as they immediately made their way to the front of the room, right before the stage, and started dancing, their costumes and accessories swinging around them.
“The dance has been going on for quite a long time,” Vigeant said, “at least five years, I would say, [but] probably ten.”
Szantyr nodded slightly. “It’s been going on since we’ve been here. This will be our third year putting it on.”
A student walked up to the table by the entrance to the dance, where Vigeant sat, and investigated the baskets brimming with items at the end of the table. “They’re the prizes for the costume contest,” Vigeant said with a kind smile. “We have a few different categories that you can enter for.” She leaned down, as if re-checking the contents of the baskets and continued, “We have scariest costume, a free one [where you can enter with any costume], funniest, couple, another couple, and most creative.”
Nodding excitedly, the student grabbed an entry form and began to fill it out.
“The costume contest has been happening for awhile too,” said Vigeant. “Last year was the first year we did it where I was involved. But if I were going to guess, the costume contest started a few years after the dance did. Maybe once the dance did well for a couple years.”
The costume contest has since become an iconic part of the Halloween dance, with most students signing up as they enter the event, and the night ending with the announcement winners. “We close the contest at midnight, and they stop the music for the announcement at 12:15 to 12:30,” Vigeant says, “and if the winner isn’t here, they’ll get an email, and can come pick up their prizes next week.”
Winner of scariest costume, junior visual arts major Alexis Ramee, left the dance before the winners were announced and woke up a week later to an email indicating that she won. “It made me really happy,” she said. “It made my morning.”
With a talent for special effects makeup and a preferred horror aesthetic, Ramee used liquid latex and polymorph plastic to create the illusion that her face had been split down a central seam and opening around her mouth. The look was meant to symbolize the importance of speaking a truth, even if it means tearing your mouth open to speak. “Generally I had pretty good reactions [to my costume], there were a couple of people that were slightly scared but I never, like, terrified anyone,” she said.
Even the campus police officers monitoring the entrance were taken aback by Ramee’s makeup. “Oh, they loved it,” Ramee said. “Even Brian Ufford was like, ‘Good makeup!’” While she said that she hadn’t seen anyone with makeup to compete with hers, she enjoyed the comedy of seeing two students dressed as bananas accompanying another dressed as a gorilla, as well as two Waldo’s. “It was just a really fun night to get away from all the school work.”
As a dance full of partying college students naturally earns a reputation for crazy sights and stories, Szantyr and Vigeant reflect on what they’ve witnessed in years passed. “We don’t have any personal funny stories from the dances we’ve been around for,” Szantyr said, “but we were told on our first year of putting on the dance, that there would be a lot of people that were not fully aware of our surroundings,” she smiles a bit slyly and turns to look at Vigeant before continuing, “if you know what I mean.”
Vigeant shot back a smirk in response, as though she knew exactly what Szantyr meant, then added “Oh, also, one year an ACE member saw a girl beat up a pumpkin right outside of the dance.”