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The Evolution of the Father Daughter Dance

The annual Father Daughter dance is a highly anticipated event that is held at the end of each January. Nowadays, students and their dads enjoy a fun filled night at the Music Hall Ballroom that includes dinner, dancing, and a costume contest. But how did this event start out?

The Father Daughter dance began long before gym teacher JP arrived at SUA in 1981. JP, who is also the head of the GAA board, describes the dance in the 80s as a “Pop’s Hop” in the gym (now the theater) complete with a square dance line down the middle, but no sit-down dinner. The GAA pushed for a costume theme and a relocation to The Phoenix downtown, because many girls wanted to dress up and go out to a nice dinner with their fathers. After outgrowing the Phoenix, the dance moved once again to the Music Hall Ballroom, with a one-year hiatus at the Hyatt due to Music Hall’s renovations.

From left to right: sophomores Nicola Settle, Sophia Dugan, Marygrace Fagan, Gracie Scheve, Hanna Freeman, and Abby More.

This year’s dance was Disney themed, complete with an authentic looking castle backdrop from Decorative Rental. Carina Oliverio ‘21, Olivia Oliverio ‘20, and their father were the winners of the costume contest, dressing up as Carl, Russell, and the house from the Pixar movie Up.

“People really go all out on the costumes,” says Tom Carroll, father of Deirdre Carroll ‘21. “It’s just fun to see everybody’s creativity.”

Examples of some other winning costumes included Peter Pan and his Shadow (Caitlyn Clements ‘21), the Slinky Dog from Toy Story (Marion Reilly ‘19), and a Cruella de Vil/Dalmatian pair (Lenna Couch ‘22).

A total of 641 daughters and dads attended this year’s event. Dennis Richter DJed, as he has for the past thirty years. Attendees were happy to be back at Music Hall after a year at the Hyatt.

“I liked this year better because the room itself was much nicer and there was more space for people to dance in the middle,” says Clements.

There were also changes to the dinner menu. Rather than having The Phoenix serve individual plates of food to guests, like they have in years past, Vonderhaar’s Catering provided a buffet style dinner.

Whatever the food, location, or theme of the Father Daughter dance, it is an event enjoyed by all. As JP puts it, “Time flies in high school and the special times like this are few. The dads love it and it is such a special event.”

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