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    • Members of Boys Water Polo pose in front of one of the “We Think”- themed signs found at 2018’s Homecoming dance.

Yule Ball Dance Returns With New Theme and Later Date

Daniela Rodriguez-Larrain '23 Campus Correspondent
Winter is coming to The Hill again, bringing with it a return to Hopkins' usual winter events: the Holiday Assembly, the musical, and Yule Ball, the Harry Potter-themed dance.
However, this year, Student Council (StuCo) decided to change Yule’s theme for the first time since 2015. In a Google Form sent out on November 20, the student body was invited to submit their own theme ideas and to vote on a few pre-determined Winter Dance themes, ranging from a Frozen-themed dance to a masquerade. The most popular themes from this form will be voted on in a later poll to determine the new Winter Dance theme.

Yule Ball, in the recent past, has not been the most well-attended dance. StuCo member Ava Littman '23 said, “In my opinion, Yule Ball has always been the least popular dance.” Ju- lia Brennan ’23 stated that she “never really liked [Yule]. I was never into Harry Potter but that is just my personal preference.” Emma Maldon ’22 said she’s “never been to Yule Ball, but I’ve heard great things about it.” StuCo Representative Pearl Miller ’22 believes that the Harry Potter theme itself might be accountable for Yule’s lower popularity: “I think the Harry Potter theme is definitely shooing people away from coming in the past years... As each year progresses, fewer and fewer people are as big fans of Harry Potter... Especially with the recent news about all the things with J.K Rowling, I feel like may- be doing a Harry Potter theme is a little outdated.”

A 2020 study in June conducted by NPD BookScan per Variety confirms Miller’s observations on the decline in popularity of the Harry Potter series. Despite the sale of fictional printed books growing at a rate of 31.4%, NPD BookScan reported that the sales of the Harry Potter series staggered behind at a 10.9% growth. Kristen McLean, an analyst of the NPD Group, stated that Rowling’s sales were “underperforming the rest of the market, comparatively, by two-thirds... especially as benchmarked against her performance in 2019 — which was very consistent with the rest of the market.” Adam B. Vary, a writer for Variety, attributed this faltering performance to the controversies surrounding Rowling regarding the repeated transphobic and racist remarks she made.

StuCo President Albert Yang ’22 hopes to improve the low attendance by implementing more student feedback into the planning of the dance. He said, “We will be looking to gather more feedback from the student community and use that information to have the best possible dance... We sent out a form the other day to gauge which new theme was most popular, my personal favorite being a winter-themed ball.” Apart from this, StuCo has decided to change the date of the dance. Yang stated, “The dance will be held in January instead of an overly busy December. Hopefully, this can help spark attendance.”

A strong theme will definitely be at the core of the winter dance, to the joy of much of the student body. Maldon said that her “ideal dance would be a super fun themed dance; they have these dances at boarding schools where they have a theme like neon, and instead of dressing up, people dress as the theme and just have a good time.'' Brennan agreed with the idea of a themed dance: “My ideal dance would have an intriguing theme that the majority of participants would follow.” Miller wants “to make sure that this dance is more themed... I want to have a costumey fun party.”

Whatever the theme may be, Yang believes that “Yule, or whatever we begin to call it, will definitely be a blast. Music, snacks, and just another opportunity to bring the school together after being so apart the previous year... I am still just happy that we have the opportunity to bring everyone together. Seeing the community dancing and enjoying an event to take their minds off such stressful times is the ultimate goal.”
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