Spring Formal: the Bowery and Davison's controversy


NEW YORK—Students of The King’s College will gather together this Friday for the annual Spring Formal, the last school-wide student event before spring semester comes to a close. This year’s location at the Bowery Hotel offers more seating space and a lounge-like speakeasy feel, with red velvet couches and ample seating space, chandeliers and a jazz band followed by a DJ. A pool table, fireplace and terrace connected to the room enable cigar smokers to don their finest and drinks served from the bar complete the scene.

Director of Student Events Sarah Doyal (’15) pegged Bowery as the ideal Spring Formal location the moment she saw it freshman year while exploring the city.

When she became director of student events, she immediately called the hotel and was pleased to find that it was a feasible option for King's. Doyal waited patiently until she was able to book the space, six months prior to Friday’s event, but by then she had convinced herself that no other place would do.

Doyal is excited for formal because she loves the venue, which she says is “really beautiful" and “just a cool place," not to mention its convenient Manhattan location.  Based on years past, Doyal wasn’t worried about tickets sales. As of Wednesday, 170 tickets had been sold out of an estimated total of 200 ticket sales.

"It’s stressful because I care, but it’s fun to know that everyone at school will get to see a place they’ve never seen before. I love exploring the city so I’m glad I can share one of the places I enjoy the most,” Doyal said.

Instead of having a theme for this year, Doyal wants “the place to speak for itself.” She describes an Old World, turn-of-the-century scene, with lush red-velvet couches, maps, high ceilings, red, dark colors and fireplaces.

Ray Davison's Controversy

Ray Davison (’13), who has been popularizing his personal views on the event and men’s role in it, shared the same favorite memory of last year’s formal with Doyal: The DJ had played Fun’s song “We Are Young” several times, and when the group was tired from dancing toward the end of the night, they simply put their arms on each others' shoulders and all swayed together, singing.

“That song came on the radio and I remembered formal, and hopefully we create memories like that last year,” Doyal said.

As to Davison’s personal views on the event, he said that his freshman year, he thought it important for him as a King’s student to attend King’s events in general, and that since it was the sort of event in which a guy asks a girl, he certainly would. Thus, he ended up asking a total of five girls, the last thankfully accepting.

“Spring Formal can be an opportunity for beginning a romance, but it doesn’t have to be that,” Davison said. “It is and should be an opportunity for celebrating the capacity to come together and have a party and to recognize men as men and women as women.”

He thinks it sad the number of girls wanting to go with a date but instead going alone or not at all, calling it “a failure on the part of the men in the college,” since he believes it not only the man’s job, but his duty as a man to ask a girl. This is especially true if a girl and guy have been getting closer over the course of the semester, yet the guy still fails to ask.

“I think—I tend to be of the ancient and conservative position that—I mean that ancient in a semi-self-derogatory fashion—that men should lead when it comes to questions of romance. Even if spring formal is just supposed to be this low intensity kind of thing, it’s still a matter of ‘I’m a man, I’m going to approach you as a woman and we are going to go together because this is the manner in which I need to take the lead,’” Davison said.

While he recognizes how terrifying it can be to ask a girl to formal, he thinks men should be fully aware that it is a terror, but to ask anyway. Rejection hurts, but it's “a good kind of hurt,” as it produces discernment. Recently Davison posted a lengthy Facebook status regarding the issue, after a female student posted something complaining about King’s men being more interested in video games than girls.

Since King’s is a Christian institution, he also decried the music often played at formal, calling the songs “over-realized eschatons of sexual expression,” which often lead to grinding. He thinks this sort of “dance” is inappropriate.

Instead of the “very individualistic” dancing done at formal, Davison prefers the partnered dancing that allows a man and woman to coordinate to “create something beautiful together.” The only dance he sees as an example of coordination between man and woman is the grinding.

“I love the the macarena. It’s a stupid song, it’s a stupid dance, sure, but it’s people working together to create something,” Davison said.