Traditions Return to Diplomatic Ball
Published: Friday, January 24, 2014
Updated: Friday, January 24, 2014 02:01
The School of Foreign Service’s Diplomatic Ball Committee will mark the event’s 89th iteration with a revival of past traditions; programming will highlight the event’s historical significance and introduce attendees to networking — even a potential “turtle hunt.”
In lieu of the essay and photo competitions of recent years, a ticket subsidy contest will commence around the week of Feb. 4. While it is known that the contest will hinge on a desire to win tickets rather than skill, committee members have shrouded the precise details in mystery.
“The turtle hunt is on” was all Committee Co-Chair Bella Blakeway-Phillips (SFS ’16) would say, adding one more layer to the already thick veil of intrigue.
According to Blakeway-Phillips, committee members trawled through the library’s music archives at the beginning of the year and found materials from the 1960s that served as inspiration.
“We were actually interested in seeing what had been done in previous years,” she said. “We have copies of all these old playbills … so we can keep them for our records.”
The original ball was established in 1925 for juniors and seniors as the climax of a weekend that included activities such as a breakfast and a boating trip.
Even though the committee does not consider a revival of many of the old traditions immediately feasible, it hopes to install an infrastructure that will make events like a leisurely boat trip one day possible.
“The Diplomatic Ball has a really interesting history. Hopefully, in future years, we’ll be able to bring back other events: breakfast, dance classes, networking events, turtle hunts,” Committee Member and Media Liaison Patrick Lim (SFS ’16) said. “We felt that the Diplomatic Ball could be a lot more.”
The committee is focused on programming and hosting events in the month leading up to the Apr. 4 ball. The events will give students the opportunity to meet members of the Foreign Service in order to make networking easier at the actual Diplomatic Ball.
To that end, the committee has worked with the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy, which is largely comprised of mid-level diplomats on sabbatical, to create networking events that are relevant to current students’ interests.
“In previous years, what we’ve noticed is that ambassadors tend to be picked because of their knowledge in a certain field. They’re not that good at talking to kids who are 40 years their junior,” Blakeway-Phillips said. “Diplomatic Ball has always been the Diplomatic Ball. What we’re trying to do is bring back the reason it was put up in the first place: to meet people with stories.”
Jade Burt (COL ’16), who attended the ball last year, found it difficult to network with ambassadors.
“I didn’t know any of the ambassadors or who I should identify as an ambassador,” Burt said. “I felt like it was kind of uncomfortable seeing this very politically famous person and not knowing who they are.”
During the summer, co-chairs Blakeway-Phillips and Victoire Carrasco (SFS ’15) started brainstorming plans to drum up caterers and recruit more committee members. They followed up with a meeting in the fall to secure their venue — the Corcoran Gallery of Art.
The committee also hopes to secure discounts from a list of businesses, including dress shops like Rent the Runway, local salons and restaurants.
“It’s a bit scary. … There’s always this worry that we’re taking on too much, and we don’t want to promise this big blowout,” Blakeway-Phillips said. “But as we check things off our playlist, I’m getting more and more excited and less and less nervous.”
Tickets for the Diplomatic Ball go on sale the week of Feb. 17.