An Inside Look at Underground Formal

By Noah Oldham

23 May 2019

By Jason Schroeder

Underground Formal is what we wished high school prom would have been. For those who didn’t have a great prom or didn’t have one at all, it was a great opportunity for a new memory. For those who did like their prom, it was an occasion to relive the moment.

“Some people never experienced prom. Some people had a really amazing experience and it was one of the best nights of their high school career. Some people, like me, had a terror prom. I don’t even want to look back at my prom pictures. That’s where it really came from. How could we get this experience on campus?” said Nigel Taylor, the visionary for Underground Formal, explained to me as we sat in the Martin Luther King Center.

Underground Formal was held in the Woodford Reserve Room on campus. The gold decorations strewn across the room and the glitter in the balloons accented the remarkable outfits and masks worn by this year’s masquerade attendees.

The event was totally free and has been for all 3 years that is has been running. The event is able to be cost free because of organizations like Student Activities Board, The Elite List, Underground Perspective, the Office of LGBTQ* Resources and the Martin Luther King Center who have helped fund and plan the event.

Underground Formal was originally founded by Underground Perspective and the Kentucky Dream Coalition, now known as the Latino Student Union.

“I had ideas about a Blue Gala, so it would be a Black-Latina united event, “ said Ruth Gonzalez-Jimenez, the Senior Advisor to the Latino Student Union.

The first attempt to get the program up and going failed because of miscommunication but Taylor was determined to get the program on campus.

“I wasn’t the type of person to say ‘No, I don’t want this.’ I was really determined and at that point it was ‘We’re going to make this happen.’”

The determination of the founders has proved successful. Underground Formal has become a highly anticipated event for many students on campus and even the friends from different school who attended yearly as guests.

“It’s cool to have high school prom again. The best part about it is seeing everyone stepping out,” said Aaron Porter who has attended the formal for all 3 years.

There were many patterned dresses and suits and extravagant masks to match. One couple wore Black Panther inspired masks and outfits.

Artists like Kendrick Lamar, Cardi B, SZA, and Drake could be heard throughout the night as well as classics like “Cupid Shuffle” and “Crank That by Soulja Boy,” all courtesy of DJ Warren Peace.

There were several areas set up with backdrops so attendants could take pictures as well as an official photo booth. Food like brownies and soft pretzels were also provided alongside soda and water.

The bottom line is that Underground Formal is a fun opportunity to dress up and dance the night away which should be experienced firsthand. It is a chance to relive or to rewrite a prom experience. Many attendants of this year’s event left with sore muscles and tingling toes which are welcome reminders to return next year.