The Student News Site of Menlo School

The Coat of Arms

The Student News Site of Menlo School

The Coat of Arms

The Student News Site of Menlo School

The Coat of Arms

Fall Flings: The Future of Casual Dances at Menlo

Staff illustration: Tatum Herrin

Menlo’s two fall dances –– the Back to School Dance and the Homecoming Dance –– have been long-standing school traditions, according to Student Activities Coordinator Frances Ferrell. “This is my ninth school year [as Student Activities Coordinator] and [Menlo] always just had the Back to School dance held on that first Friday [after school started,]” Ferrell said. 

For the Homecoming Dance, Ferrell works with the Athletics department to determine when it happens, which is typically on a Friday night,” she said. “It’s usually always slotted somewhere in October, but the specific date is more led by Athletics and when they pick the Homecoming game itself.”

However, there are questions about the necessity of having two casual dances in quick succession, especially with the Back to School Dance’s recent lack of attendance.“I’m not sure why these past two years, the Back to School Dance has seen a significant decline in participation,” Ferrell said. 

Ferrell had brainstormed with the student council about potentially moving the Back to School Dance to a Saturday and having more publicity and promotion around it, or even getting rid of it altogether if students weren’t going. “It’s a lot of time and effort, [especially to find teacher chaperones],” Ferrell said. “If a lot of kids don’t want to have it, we could eliminate it or move it. It’s a little tricky.”

Freshmen Zoe Chuang and Kai Chung both thought that this year’s Back To School Dance was a bit lackluster. “I just couldn’t get into it,” Chuang said. “It was fun as a social experience, but I didn’t enjoy the dance itself.” 

According to Chuang, as soon as the dance was over, everyone left immediately, part of which was due to the students not particularly enjoying the music. “[The students] really tried to get into it,” Chuang said. “They clustered and [cheered], but it didn’t really bring the energy up.”

“I feel like everybody, after a little while, just gave up [on enjoying themselves],” Chung said. Similar to last year’s dance, the attendees consisted of a majority of freshmen with some seniors, while the other grades made up a small portion of attendees. 

 Menlo’s other casual dance, the Homecoming Dance, has never been formal, which is uncommon among other schools. “A lot of other schools have a homecoming court, right? But we don’t do any of that,” Ferrell said. “We do the grade-level float paintings and the halftime show, so we focus more on all of the students [instead of just those selected for the Homecoming court].” 

After discussing dance themes last year at a student council meeting, they decided that it would be best to keep the first two dances of the year as low-stakes dances. “You can go with a group of friends, and there’s no pressure to find someone to [take] until the second semester,” Ferrell said. 

Along with the Semi-Formal Dance and Prom in the second semester, Menlo previously held a casual Sadie Hawkins dance in mid-March. A Sadie Hawkins dance gives girls an opportunity to invite boys to come to the dance with them, unlike the traditional custom where the boys invite the girls. However, Menlo has since gotten rid of the dance. “There was some pushback from some retired administrators, […] they wanted to get rid of that gender binary from the title of ‘Sadie Hawkins,’” Ferrell said. 

While some students saw no issue with the dance, the administration’s resistance discouraged its revival. “[That conflict] just killed the energy. It was a low-attended dance anyway, so we eliminated it,” Ferrell said. 

To bring back any type of casual dance in the spring, even without a Sadie Hawkins concept, is also unlikely due to the annual Dance Concert, parent auction and Prom that all loom during the same season. For now, the casual fall dances will occur as scheduled.

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About the Contributor
Sienna Lew
Sienna Lew, Opinions Editor

Number of years in The Coat of Arms: 2

Favorite aspect of journalism: discovering new things about our diverse community through the stories I pursue

Interests outside of school: poetry and creative writing, running, listening to music, hanging out with friends and family, mock trial

Class of 2026


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