Humans of UK: Nigel Taylor creates Underground Formal


Nigel Taylor, a graduate student studying communication, poses for a portrait outside Lucille Little Library on Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022, at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Abbey Cutrer | Staff

Abbey Cutrer

In 2012, a freshman communication major came up with the idea to redo prom in college. Now, 10 years later, this college prom is a reality through Underground Formal.

Nigel Taylor is a current graduate student studying communication at the University of Kentucky. Taylor, originally from Boston, did not want to come to UK for college, but his family was convincing.

When Taylor got to UK, he made friends and created lasting relationships.

“I talked to a lot of my friends and one day we were just reminiscing about proms. There were people who had great proms, there were people who had terrible proms, but I think the one commonality that I realized through the conversations we had is regardless of people’s prom experiences, how we felt about each other as friends was amazing,” Taylor said.

Taylor said his main passion behind the idea was the power in being able to re-live one’s prom experience, or do it over again and get that second opportunity.

Taylor intended to create a space for students to relive their prom with better friends and a better community. He created this space alongside his friends through the creation of the organization Underground Perspective.

“Underground Perspective started in 2013, and its mission is to build a social community through diversity,” he said. “The goal was to create a home away from home for students and make this huge campus a bit smaller.”

UGP was a launching pad for Underground Formal, and because of the organization’s actions, the idea for a formal became reality.

“By the time we got to my senior year, plans were in motion, we were able to find funding and collaborate with SAB, the MLK Center, the LGBTQ Center and others. The first dance was at the football stadium and we had 900 people show up,” Taylor said.

Underground Formal has been around every year since, excluding 2020 and 2021, when it was canceled due to COVID.

“It was a long time coming,” Taylor said. “It was a lot of, ‘How do we make this happen? Where do we go for resources?’ and it took a couple of years.”

Taylor has seen the organization grow over the past decade.

“As a Ph.D. student, seeing UGP still here, Underground Formal still here, and seeing I played a part in that is like … ‘Oh wow, that’s crazy,’” Taylor said. “It’s incredible that it’s self-sustained.”

As for Taylor himself, he plans to finish his Ph.D. and be a talk show host one day. He has future plans that involve creativity in television or film. He aspires to be wealthy, not to have money for himself, but to create different community service projects and be able to donate to different causes.

“I care about women’s sports, homeless charities, prison reform and additional things that people don’t really talk about,” he said. “At the end of the day, I just want to have an impact.”