Historic First WBU dance bring smiles for students

Release Date: April 4, 2009    

PLAINVIEW – It was only 100 years in the making, but the first school-sponsored dance at Wayland Baptist University was a hit for students, who packed the dance floor at the Plainview Country Club on Friday night.

Students arrived shortly before 9 p.m. and stayed glue to the floor until the Centennial Spring Ball ended at midnight. Plied with lemonade, sweet tea and water and desserts from the Cotton Patch Cafe, students took only a few breaks during the evening to catch their breath, rest their feet and mingle with friends before grabbing dance partners and getting back to the groove.

Music to the Maxx supplied the tunes, which ranged from country ballads to pop hits, with a little 80s nostalgia thrown in for good measure.

“We Baptists know how to throw a dance,” laughed Melissa Knight, a junior from Prosper who endured the entire evening with a group of friends, cutting up and practicing their moves. “It has been a very enjoyable evening.”

While the fun of the first official dance was the high note, the historic nature of the event was not lost on students. They received special t-shirts commemorating the event as they arrived, featuring winged pigs on clouds taking a tongue-in-cheek jab at the 100-year dry spell on dancing.

“This is a lot of fun… a metric ton of fun,” said Jeff Coleman, a junior from Borger who broke into some break-dance moves from time to time on the floor, entertaining his friends and classmates. But he admitted he didn’t think it would ever happen at Wayland during his tenure.

A few faculty and staff members got into the action as well, some serving as official chaperones and others there just to enjoy the first dance with students. Dr. Gary Manning, professor of religion at Wayland for 27 years, cut a rug with wife Paulette and expressed his excitement at seeing the dance become a reality.

“This is way overdue. I’ve been pushing it for 20 years, and I said all along if at all possible, I wanted to be at the first dance,” he said. “This is just great. The kids are loving it; the faculty is loving it… we’re all just having a great time.”

About an hour into the event, the deejay grabbed the microphone for an announcement for students.

“Your president is not here tonight, but he wanted to dedicate this song to you,” he said. “The tune that followed was “I Hope You Dance” by Lee Ann Womack, a slower country song with inspirational lyrics.

“If you get the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance,” the singer crooned. But President Dr. Paul Armes needn’t have worried. Students were hungry for the event, and seemed to lap up each moment as if it were a dream.

“I got a little emotional toward the end there, just watching them all having so much fun,” said Teresa Moore, director of student activities and leadership, whose office organized the event. “I was just glad we could give them a safe place to experience that.”

Moore said while the dance may have been 100 years in coming, it will only be the first of many such experiences. The spring ball will be an annual event following the traditional Wayland “Academy Awards” night, and other school-sponsored dances are in the works.