For years, spring fling has been an annual Maryville College tradition. Each year, students have the opportunity to dance the night away with friends. “Behind the Masque” was the theme of the 2014 dance, and as one may gather from the title, masks were encouraged. The affair was held in the Market Square area at the Square Room at the back of Café 4. As students entered, they were greeted by a blur of feathers, beads and glitter from the countless masked faces. Perhaps the highlight of the night was the free photo booth.
Students lined up the entire night to snap a few memories. It is safe to say that this year’s event was a success. But sometimes one wonders about the spring flings of the past. How long has this dance been a tradition?
Looking back in the Highland Echo archives, in May 1949, MC made preparations for its first ever formal dance known as spring formal, and the students were clearly excited. “Who would have dreamed this time last year that . . . we would be having a spring formal at Maryville College?” wrote Wallin & Davis in the April 23, 1949 issue of the Echo. The formal was set to have 24 dances along with a “grand march” and music was to be provided by Charlie Huffman’s orchestra.
This dance was clearly a milestone in MC history; however, it could not go without proper precautions:
“Bulletins have been placed in prominent places around the campus with information concerning proper dance procedure. These bulletins are especially for the men, but girls might profit from reading them,” reads an article from April 29, 1949.
Of course, dancing needed to be regulated so it seems the dance committee took to educating students beforehand.
Of course, dancing was not the only guidelines to be addressed. Proper attire was also expected to be worn by all those attending. For the men, “tuxedos are preferred but suits will be acceptable” and the ladies “will dress formally.” It can only be assumed that the Spring Formal was a success since they have continued up until this day.
Later, in an issue from the Echo in November 1962, an article outlines MC’s official regulations for dancing. Among some of the regulations was that there was to be informal dancing held each weekday in the gym as well as only two formal dances per school year. These regulations state that one formal dance may be held per semester and that “only couples will be admitted” and “guests are subject to the same regulations as students.”
It is safe to say that spring fling has evolved completely from the first spring dance and even from the 1960’s, and the change is surely a welcome one. The Maryville College Student Programming Board (SPB) works hard each year to keep the 65 year tradition alive and well and the students continue to enjoy the annual event.