The University of Mary Washington ring dance is a tradition that not only dates back more than 50 years, but brings the junior class together for a celebratory reminder that graduation is just around the corner.
UMW Class Council hosted the dance, which was held in the Jepson Alumni Center’s ballroom. More than 230 students attended the event, filling the Jepson Alumni Center with Mardi Gras themed decorations.
Guests had the option of getting pictures taken in the lobby and received Class of 2015 glassware. Multicolored Mardi Gras beads and masks were also given out to make the event more festive.
Many juniors arrived with dates and friends, but there was still interaction between the individual groups. Most people gathered on the dance floor or stood in small groups to chat.
“I met a lot of cool people, and dancing with everyone there was a lot of fun,” said Erica Krieder, a junior English and education double major.
The event also hosted a small table of different desserts and drinks for students to snack on while they enjoyed the dance. DJ Brett Wynn provided music for the event, and while it was nice to have a live musician, the pop music provided for dancing left many students disappointed.
“It wasn’t really anything you could dance to,” said Krieder. “It was a fun night, but more because it was a chance to be with friends than anything else.”
Even so, the UMW Class Council considered the dance a successful event.
“This was a great turnout for a traditional event that was brought back after a few years,” said Whitney Kiper, a UMW Class Council representative.
The Junior Ring dance dates back to 1963, when Mary Washington girls received rings in recognition of approaching the completion of their degree.
Preceding the ring dance, juniors received their purchased class rings in a formal ceremony.
Traditionally, young women received their rings from their escorts under a large ring figure in the Lee Hall Ballroom, which gave the tradition romantic symbolism. However, this symbolism is toned down for the present day ceremony, as the rings were received in Lee Hall with Professor Gary Richards as the keynote speaker.
Professor Cedric Rucker also commented during the ceremony, stating the importance of the ring ceremony at UMW.
“I remember getting my ring; I wore it facing in until graduation and then had my mom flip the ring around, as tradition,” said Rucker.
The junior class members who received their rings opened their boxes, put their rings on facing inwards and closed their boxes in unison. This was also a traditional act of the ceremony.
The Junior Ring dance and ceremony were only two of the many events held for this year’s Junior Ring week.