Underground Formal: UK students dance the night away


Travis Fannon

Students dance during the Underground Formal on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023, at the Gatton Student Center in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Travis Fannon | Staff

Owen Chesemore, Reporter

UK Student Activities Board (SAB) collaborated with Underground Perspectives to host the Underground Formal in the Gatton Student Center on February 4. 

Students streamed into the Grand Ballroom to bond with friends and break out their best dance moves. The event included appetizers, a 360 Photo Booth and music curated by DJ WarrenPeace.

Allyson Carson, president of SAB, said the event aimed to bring a high school dance experience to life. 

“It allows students to come and have the opportunity to attend a formal, in case they didn’t have that experience in high school due to COVID,” she said. 

Vice President of Underground Perspectives Jocelyn Grimsley mentioned Saturday’s event was the third Underground Formal she has attended thus far. 

“It (has) definitely evolved. Something we want to try and work on is getting [the Underground Formal] promoted a lot sooner in time to help get more of the campus community here,” Grimsley said. “Over the years we’ve noticed an increase in size of people interested in it.”

Kylie Threatt, president of Underground Perspectives, has attended every Underground Formal since she was a freshman. According to her, the event has changed a lot over the years.

“One big thing that is really nice now is not having to wear a mask … we could tell everyone was having a good time, but I wish I could see everyone’s smiles,” Threatt said. “You can tell people are having fun and aren’t scared to be close to each other and are actually out on the dance floor having a good time.”  

At 8 p.m., students began trickling in. Alex Nacke, one of the first to arrive, offered his initial impressions of the event. 

“It was a little empty so me and my friends went into the circle. We started dancing because there’s no point in going to a party and not making a fool of yourself. It’s time to let loose,” he said. 

Warren Edwards, better known by his stage name DJ WarrenPeace, provided the music for the event. He has been DJ’ing since he was 15 years old. 

“I was a music-lover first; being in love with music made me a DJ,” Edwards said.

He said he never makes playlists for events like this, he just plays it by ear.

“I’m just going off of what the energy in the room (is),” Edwards said. “That’s why sometimes you might play something that (doesn’t) work. The vibe-read is wrong, so you just adjust.”

As the night carried on, partygoers filled the dance floor. Students paused only to grab a refreshment or rest their wearied feet. Meanwhile, SAB members worked shifts to ensure the event ran smoothly.

Kylie Threatt said there are four shifts for workers at the event, with 14 to 20 people in each shift. 

Anaya Ali, an associate board of director at SAB, gave people wristbands to confirm they were checked in. Meanwhile, Emma Galdau served as a floater. 

“I walk around and make sure that everyone is checked in and that they have a wristband on,” Ali said. 

Others who work for UK provided security and medical services and oversaw the sound and lighting. 

EMS workers and UK police officers stood on the perimeter against the walls, eyeing students and chatting with each other. No incidents requiring their services occurred that night. 

Sophomore Julia Brillowski, who works for UK productions and services, kept track of the lighting and audio with the help of two others. She said a lot more preparation goes into their work than people would expect. 

“There’s a whole roster of requirements and equipment that has been carefully selected by whoever’s holding the event, and we have to go through, usually a couple hours earlier, to set up everything and consult with (SAB) and make sure everything is in tip-top shape,” Brillowski said. 

Other workers, like UK Athletics medic Matthew Callahan, served in case someone got injured during the dance. 

Carson said the amount of security was typical for such an event. 

Students offered mixed reviews after the event’s conclusion. UK senior Hannah Lynn Lamb said this year’s Underground Formal is the third one she has attended. Her favorite remains the first. 

“There were more people, there was more music, and the food was better. I feel like [the Underground Formal] has lost a bit of luster. It’s just not as fun,” she said. “The music isn’t that good. There [are fewer] people. I can tell the first time it happened, everyone was so excited to do it, and now it just seems like no one’s that excited to be here.”

Another student, Grecia Garcia-Rodriguez, offered a more positive review. 

“I think this is awesome. My roommate’s a junior, so she didn’t have her senior prom, so this is a really cool way for us to emulate that,” Garcia-Rodriguez said.