UK students dance the night away at the sixth annual Underground Formal


Students socialize and dance during the SAB Underground Formal on Friday, Feb. 18, 2022, at Gatton Student Center in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff

Amy Oakley

UK’s annual Underground Formal took place on Friday, Feb. 18 from 8 to 11 p.m. in the Gatton Student Center Ballroom. Students had the opportunity to put on their best formal attire and dancing shoes for an event considered similar to prom.

The Student Activities Board, Underground Perspective, the UK MLK Center and LGBTQ* Resources met for the sixth consecutive year to give students the chance to attend a prom while in college.

This event was even more special for younger students who missed their opportunity to have high school prom due to COVID.

The event allowed students from a variety of backgrounds to come together to experience a relaxing, formal event in a college environment. Students were able to express themselves through fashion, music and photographs.

“I wanted to dress up in my prom dress and have a prom since I didn’t attend any proms at my high school,” said sophomore Cori Simpson.

Planning for the event started in fall 2021 with the goal of providing a prom some never had.

During planning, COVID regulations were changing day by day, causing plans to be carefully thought out and executed even on the day of the event. From themes and decorations to food planning and other smaller details, the members of each organization had much to discuss and organize.

“COVID was the biggest thing we were worried about changing,” said Emily Schneck, SAB co-director of traditions. “What kind of requirements or would we be able to have the same capacity, so that was some things we were worried about that would change a lot.”

After the formal was canceled last year due to COVID, SAB and Underground Perspective had to find ways to get students attention.

The formal was mainly advertised on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Yard signs and posters were placed around campus to draw attention from on- and off-campus students as well.

“I went to an Underground Formal once before,” said senior Jasmine Keshtvarz. “My boyfriend and I don’t go to a lot of formal events together, so we wanted to attend this event.”

The Underground Formal began in spring 2016 and was hosted at Commonwealth Stadium, now named Kroger Field, for three years before the venue became too small.

“Unfortunately and fortunately, we just grew so large that it could just no longer hold us,” Shneck said. “We were hitting attendance of 800 in 2020 before it was canceled. Now that the student center is built, we have plenty of space.”

Students can attend the Underground Formal to promote diversity and meet new people. It is an event that previous and current UK students will always remember.

“It’s grown beyond our beliefs,” Schneck said. “We outgrew our Kroger Field location and now it has just become one of those things that we look forward to having every single year.”