During the day, the first floor of Indiana Memorial Union was crammed with students studying for finals week. But when the clock struck 9 p.m. Friday night, it transformed into something out of a Harry Potter movie set for IU’s annual Yule Ball dance.
Students wearing ball gowns, donning witch hats and carrying wands filled Alumni Hall for the annual Harry Potter-themed dance hosted by IU Late Nite and the Harry Potter Society at IU.
IU freshman Jai Jackson said entering the ballroom felt like entering Hogwarts Castle. Harry Potter theme music filled the air, house banners hung from the ceiling, “floating” candles dangled above the crowd and Christmas trees lined the walls.
“It’s honestly kind of a magical moment for me,” Jackson said. “You see that scene in the movies and you're always like, ‘I want to do that. I want to dress up like that and have this amazing experience.’”
IU junior Matthew Harrison, Harry Potter Society officer, said the Yule Ball is inspired by a holiday dance hosted for Hogwarts students in the fourth Harry Potter book, “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”. Harrison said organizers aim to capture the essence of Harry Potter in the event, such as by serving “Golden Snitch” cake pops and the famous wizard drink Butterbeer.
While organizers were unable to book the Weird Sisters — a fictional wizarding band who performed at the real Yule Ball — IU Ladies First A Capella and magician Matt the Knife performed at Friday’s event.
Harrison said this year’s Yule Ball is the first since the pandemic as last year’s had to be cancelled. While organizers initially worried about low attendance, Harry Potter Society President junior Olivia Meeker said they sold over 600 tickets for $10 in advance/$15 at the door for this year’s event.
“We were all so upset and disappointed that it couldn't happen last year,” Harrison said. “I was very worried it wasn't going to come back, but it's happening again this year, and the turnout is fantastic.”
IU freshman Chloe Hardigree attended the Yule Ball in the dress she planned to wear to her senior prom before it was cancelled due to COVID-19. Hardigree said this year’s event likely drew in many students who missed out on their high school prom.
“I actually didn't get a prom,” she said. “So this was kind of like a makeup prom for me.”
Hardigree said the Yule Ball was a special moment for her because she grew up reading the books. As a self-described nerd with bushy hair, Hardigree always related to the character Hermione, who had a grand entrance to the Yule Ball in a famous Harry Potter scene. Friday night, Hardigree said she got to have her “Hermione moment.”
Harrison said the Yule Ball’s purpose is to give Harry Potter fans like Hardigree a “magical” moment in the halls of the IMU.
“It’s just fun,” he said. “It takes you out of daily life for a little bit into something that is just, I hate to use the term, but ‘magical.’”