Fancy dress expected to be virtual, decentralized

Plans are still in the works and no date has been set for this year’s event

Jess Kishbaugh

Fancy dress is still expected to be held this spring, but will look different with COVID-19 restrictions in place.

The formal is one of Washington and Lee’s oldest traditions and has been running for over 100 years. At Fancy Dress, students are encouraged to dress up, enjoy the music and relax.

This year, however, things won’t be quite the same as they have been for the past cen- tury. Fancy Dress co-Chair Felicity Taylor, ’22, is working to bring students the Fancy Dress experience while observing COVID-19 guidelines.

“When we plan, it’s based on the restric- tions that we currently have in place,” Taylor said.

Washington and Lee’s COVID-19 envi- ronment level was changed from red to yel- low-high Feb. 8 as positive cases decreased. Gatherings are currently limited to 10 people, both inside and outside, which is consistent with statewide mandates. A large ball would not work under these restrictions.

To solve that problem, Taylor said that there will be more “individualized, small groups.” Rather than everyone being together in the gym or outside, small groups of friends will get together and set up their own Fancy Dress with access to the entertainment provided.

Students with a ticket would be able to ac- cess the Zoom link.

and inclusivity, ensuring the price for a ticket to the event stays affordable despite having issues with fundraising.

But even with the changes, many students are still look- ing forward to Fancy Dress.

“I’ve formed a great community who I would have fun with no matter what, masked and all,” Kayla Monaghan, ‘24, said. “So any opportu- nity we have to just relax and have a good time I would want to take advantage of.”

It’s obvious that we can’t have the same expectations for Fancy Dress to occur as it has in past years,” Powers said. “But any semblance of the unique tradition that is Fancy Dress would be worth exploring.”

Other upper division students who have al- ready experienced Fancy Dress, like Eli Bradley, ‘22, are more skeptical.

“Doing fun things that are substitutes for things that we used to be able to do makes me realize more of the severity of the circumstances we’re in,” Bradley said. “A lot of times I prefer to skip the substitute and just do things that take your mind off the situation.”

Because Fancy Dress will be virtual and de- centralized, alumni can now take part in the festivities. Alumni chapters often set up their own Fancy Dress events locally, but this year, the on campus Fancy Dress can work with the alumni and share online resources.

There is no set date for Fancy Dress, which is unusual for this time of year. The chairs are hoping to push it back as far as it can go into spring.

“It’s always better if we can do the outdoor gathering,” Taylor said.

And with COVID cases and restrictions continuing to fluctuate, the chairs have not sent a proposal to the COVID Committee. But the Fancy Dress Tri-Chairs hope to complete their plan within the coming weeks.