Electric candles hung from the ceiling of the Indiana Memorial Union’s Alumni Hall on Friday night, evoking memories of the iconic floating candles of the Hogwarts Great Hall. On the stage, a giant Christmas tree stood, decked with lights.
Large banners, each depicting the color and emblem of one of the Hogwarts houses — Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Slytherin — decorated the walls. There was even a brick wall-patterned tapestry with a trolley in front, modeled after the iconic Platform 9 ¾.
IU’s Yule Ball is a nod to the formal dance depicted in the fourth book of the Harry Potter series, ”Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” written by British author J.K. Rowling.
Alexis Fuentes, graduate advisor for the IMU Office of Activities and Events, said putting on the Yule Ball every year helps keep the tradition alive.
“There is a population that loves Harry Potter on campus, especially with the new movies coming out,” Fuentes said. “Therefore we recognize there is still interest for this type of event.”
Fuentes described the event as a mixture of Harry Potter and winter formal.
“We have a bunch of Harry Potter aspects, such as a build-your-own-owl activity, which is just like Build-A-Bear but with owls,” Fuentes said. “We also have different performances based on the different houses.”
The Yule Ball’s performers included the IU Breakdance Club, Resting Pitch Face, the Bloomington Ballet Ensemble at IU as well as the Ballroom Dance club. The special guest of the night, magician Matt the Knife also captivated guests with feats of magic and mentalism.
Besides the performances and dancing going on in Alumni Hall, the night’s other events were spread throughout the building. Guests were encouraged to take part in Harry Potter trivia contests and take pictures at a photo booth near Starbucks. They could also purchase souvenirs from vendors located in the solarium.
Senior Cady Cunneen and junior Amna Yaqub were among the vendors. They offered ornaments and Harry Potter-related crafts. It was Cunneen’s second year attending the ball, and Yaqub’s third.
“We are both from the Harry Potter Society, which is one of the co-sponsors of the Yule Ball,” Cunneen said.
Other sponsors of the event include the IMU Union Board, IU Late Nite and the IU Quidditch Club.
The ball also attracted many first-timers, including sophomore Sydney Sheely.
“I really love Harry Potter and actually wanted to come last year, but couldn’t find anybody to go with,” Sheely said. “I said yes as soon as my friend asked me this year.”
Fuentes said he wanted guests to have an experience that they won’t get anywhere else.
“We want people to feel like they are really at the Yule Ball in the wizarding world," Fuentes said. “We want to provide a safe and inclusive where they can dance, watch different groups perform and just have fun.”