It’s almost that time of year again; time for the Class of 2020, clad in long dresses and suits, to attend the annual Virginia Tech Ring Dance. The tradition goes back almost 90 years, beginning with the Corps of Cadets in 1934, and it symbolizes the passage from junior year to senior year.
The event will be held at 8 p.m. in Squires Commonwealth Ballroom on Friday, March 29, and Saturday, March 30, and guests choose one of the two nights to attend.
The theme of this year’s dance is “Then, Now, Forever.” Several students play an important role in organizing the memorable event.
“I decided to take part in planning this event because I wanted to be a part of the traditions at Virginia Tech,” said Danielle Russell, a junior studying computational modeling and data analytics, and a member of the Ring Dance Committee. “I have always loved tradition and felt that I wanted to do more than just buy my class ring and attend the ring dance.”
Both evenings will begin with a formal ring presentation at 9 p.m. by Virginia Tech President Tim Sands, followed by the Corps sabre arch and ending with fireworks on the Drillfield on Saturday. To this day, it is a night to remember, full of decorations, entertainment, food and, of course, a great chance to dress up.
“I am excited to see everyone proudly wearing their rings, being in the moment and dancing alongside dear friends and classmates as we celebrate what makes the Class of 2020 so special,” said Bella Land, a junior studying fashion and merchandising and another Ring Design Committee member.
Of course, an event this large requires a significant amount of planning. This year’s planning began two years ago. The Leadership Team for Class of 2020 and the Ring Dance Committee make up of a total of 42 students, each playing a major role in organizing the event.
“I wanted to get involved with the ring tradition because I wanted to take part in one of Virginia Tech’s oldest and most treasured traditions that celebrates the place we all call our home,” Land said.
The physical preparations for the dance began approximately two weeks prior to the event. While the overall planning lies in the hands of the Ring Dance Committee, there are a total of 63 people involved in the setup.
“I think the committee has done a great job of working together and staying on task,” Russell said. “It’s easy to say ‘Wow, there is so much time,’ but in reality, that time flies by in college.”
Since its origin in 1934, the dance has been centered around the class ring. Based on the tradition, each couple receives ribbons in class colors at the dance, and the students wear their date’s rings on their wrist.
“As every class is unique and different, so is their ring as well as their ring dance,” Land said.
It is the responsibility of the Ring Design Committee to design the ring for a particular class. This year’s ring is named after Nikki Giovanni, a professor of English at Virginia Tech, and the class colors are navy, gold, silver and cranberry.
While admission to the dance is free, tickets are required, and juniors can each acquire two tickets: one for themselves and one for a date. While purchasing a ring is not typically necessary to attend the dance, students who buy a ring do have priority access to tickets.
“The Leadership Teams have noticed that after ring buyers got the opportunity to collect their tickets, there were hardly any left for non-ring buyers,” Russell said. “This led to high competition and upset.”
This year, the number of ring buyers is almost as high as the total number of ring dance tickets available, so those who did not get a ring may have difficulty obtaining a ticket. Still, the dance is an opportunity for the junior class to proudly display their rings and be a part of the tradition.
“The Ring Dance Committee has put a great amount of effort into planning,” Russell said. “And we hope that students will hold this memory, specifically, from their time at Tech as one they will never forget.”