The Sadie Hawkins Dance will be replaced by the Abbot Ball this year in an effort to dismantle gender-normative and heteronormative ideas, said Stephanie Cormier, Student Program Coordinator, and Christopher Capano, Director of Student Activities.
“We realized that we want all our dances to be as inclusive as possible. We kind of knew that [Sadie’s] was going to go away. Things [like this] kind of went away at other schools too. We’ve been doing it for a lot longer than other places,” said Capano.
The idea of a “Sadie Hawkins Dance” originated from a 1940s comic strip called “Li’l Abner.” In the comic strip, Sadie Hawkins’s father, who was the mayor of the town, decided to make a day where Sadie could find a man and force him to say “yes” to her proposal.
From the comic came the idea of “Sadie Hawkins Dance” or “Sadie Hawkins Day,” during which girls could ask boys to date or go to a dance with them. At the time of the comic strip’s publication, this phenomenon was considered contradictory to the normal pattern of boys asking girls out to a dance.
“We made it [so] that girls ask boys to a dance. But it is based on this horrible, sexist comic strip from a long time ago,” said Capano.
In addition, Cormier and Capano felt that many students were put under pressure to ask their partners every year near the time of the dance.
“We heard from some kids last year that Sadie’s left people out. We [also] thought that Sadie’s was kind of too gender-normative,” said Capano, “If it’s just girls asking, then the boys who want to ask other boys, they’re completely left out.”
Both Capano and Cormier said they feel that students should be able to ask anyone, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation. The dance will be replaced by Abbot Ball to ensure that there were no insinuations of Sadie’s being the year’s only opportunity for a girl to ask her partner to the dance.
“Anyone can ask anybody. If a girl wants to ask a boy, I think they should feel free. They should also feel free to ask at any dance. We’re getting that it’s 2015,” said Capano.
Cormier and Capano first heard about the name “Abbot Ball” from some students who had read about the dance in previous years’ yearbooks. The Abbot Ball used to be a Winter Term formal held on Abbot campus.
“This is like bringing [Abbot Ball] back to Abbot campus. It would be awesome to do… so [in] place [of] Sadie, just [with] a different kind of feeling and vibe about it. So we’re hoping that it’s going to be better because we want better,” said Cormier.
“I do think that because we’re not completely shutting the dance down, we’re just kind of shifting it back to Abbot Ball. There’s still that empowerment that it is from Abbot Academy. Girls should be empowered to ask other girls or boys to the dance. But to [Capano’s] point, we should be able to do that year round, at any dance that we go to,” said Cormier.
The location of the Abbot Ball is not yet finalized, but the Student Activities Office hopes to hold the dance in McKeen Hall, which is on Abbot campus.