Every February, when gray days and winter blues start to become the norm, Wheaton rallies together for College Union’s “Party of the Year”: President’s Ball. Since the first official President’s Ball in 2012, the party has had numerous venues from the historic Palmer House hotel and Navy Pier, to last year’s “Dance with Dinos” at the Field Museum. This year, College Union decided to switch things up with a lesser known but extra party-ready venue: Morgan Manufacturing.
Planning for President’s Ball started back in August, when Liz Lengel first found out that she would be the main event coordinator. She said that she began to think about what kind of event she would like it to be and how she wanted to distinguish it from previous years. In October, College Union started to plan in earnest, beginning the search for venues as well as attending food tastings and choosing DJ’s.
Planning President’s Ball is no small job — the annual event sees a turnout of around 1,100 people. Lengel said that, “the hardest week was the week before the announcement” in which College Union was running between venue tours and food tastings while trying to coordinate a social media announcement that would get students excited about attending.
Initially, many students were confused about the venue choice. Lengel laughed, “I’ve been asked about it so many times!” While past events have traditionally been held in iconic Chicago venues, Morgan Manufacturing was a name few students had heard before. Lengel said that she wanted the party to have a different vibe than in years past. “It really came down to wanting something different,” she explained. “There’s been a lot of space provided for uber-fancy, really proper and Morgan was really different from that.” She went on to say that Morgan Manufacturing is a much more modern, urban space. It is also an excellent venue for a massive dance party.
Lengel repeatedly returned to the idea of a big dance party when thinking about the event. She explained that Morgan was the ideal venue because it was dark, spacious and “the sound system is phenomenal.” The dance floor would be the center of the party, rather than history exhibits or beautiful views as in years past. “I think it was the best space for a crazy dance party that we’ve ever had,” said Liz.
Walking into Morgan Manufacturing, the urban feel was apparent. The interior of the building was all concrete and metal and flashing lights, with a dance space in the middle. The party featured tables of desserts catered by Blue Plate Chicago as well as a photo booth. Speakers were set up throughout the main room blasting music chosen by the two DJs, Seth Spykstra and D’myla Hayes. Wheaton students enjoyed the evening by dancing to top 40 hits as well as song requests that had been submitted to the DJs before the event.
Freshman Kelly Parks said she enjoyed her first President’s Ball and commented that “the venue was super modern and hipster. It had good Chicago vibes.” Sophomore Laurel Nee said the venue made a lot of sense for college students, laughing that “it made us feel like sophisticated 20 year olds.” Despite initial uncertainty, the venue seemed to be a hit, and Laurel added that “the music was really good.”
Even President Ryken enjoyed himself, commenting that, “as usual, Prez Ball was a blast this year, with plenty of opportunities for me to get ‘selfies’ with my students. It was great to see some faculty couples there, too.” He did mention one disappointment: “They ran out of mocha crème brulee before I had a chance to try it. Maybe next year!” It appears that the long planning process for President’s Ball was worth the effort, as students and faculty had a blast dancing the night away before returning to classes the next morning.