A crowd of people dance on a dance floor with their hands up. A disco ball hangs from the ceiling, and the room is basked in pink-ish purple light.
(Manasa Gudavalli for WSN)
Manasa Gudavalli

From prom to Pier 60: Violet Ball brings nostalgia to the dance floor

The Violet Ball, NYU’s annual dance event, gave the class of 2024 a long-awaited celebration as they prepare for graduation.

More than a thousand students gathered at Pier 60 to attend the Violet Ball, one of the highly-anticipated events for Violet 100, NYU’s official spirit week. The event was organized by the Student Government Assembly and was funded by the majority of its Violet 100 budget.

People in formalwear dance on a dance floor. The room is mostly dark, but basked in purple light. A bright orange light appears to be hanging from the ceiling.
(Manasa Gudavalli for WSN)

The Violet Ball — although promoted as a glamorous affair — also served as a reminder of the challenges faced by the class of 2024, particularly due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The majority of the students at the ball were seniors whose college experiences had been largely defined by remote learning and virtual interactions.

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Junior Anya Pabby and senior Diya Basu on the dance floor.

“It was a fun opportunity to dance with my senior friends before they graduate,” Anya Pabby said.

Severalpeopleinformalwearsitataroundtable.Awomaninalongdresswithabow in her hair approaches the table, with her hand on the shoulder of one of the people sitting, all in a room basked in purple light.
Twowomenwearingformalweardanceonadancefloor.Theyaresurroundedby other people dancing, all in a room basked in purple light.
(Manasa Gudavalli for WSN)

As students gathered in the ballroom — reminiscent of a high school prom — the ambiance was highlighted by a sense of nostalgia and longing for the in-person events and intimate experiences they had missed out on.

“It’s our senior year,” Steinhardt senior Anna Whitescarver said. “We didn’t get a prom in high school because of COVID and now it’s 2024. Four years later, we’re back looking fire, looking wildly sexy.”

Two women in dresses — one with dark hair and a dark dress, one with blonde hair and a light dress — look at one another while standing against a wall. The woman in the dark dress holds her right hand to her chest. The room is basked in a faded purple light.

Seniors Anna Whitescarver and Catherine Kenny.

The student government moved the annual Violet Ball from its traditional location in Bobst Library to Chelsea’s Pier 60, due to renovations to the first floor of the library. As a result, the budget for the event rose from $135,000 to almost $185,000 this year, according to SGA chair Ryan Carney. 

A person takes a photo of a woman in a fancy dress who is holding onto a railing behind her. Behind the subject of the photo is a large body of water, and the New York City skyline. It is nighttime, and several other people are standing in the shadows next to the pair taking the photo.

Attendees take photos by the waterfront.

“We heard NYU spent a lot of money on us so we want to take advantage of it,” senior Tiffany Huang said. “The venue is really nice compared to last year. Last year, it was in the library — so this is a major upgrade.”

Awomantakesapictureoftwootherwomen—onewithadrinkinherlefthand, leaning against the other. They are all wearing formalwear, and are in a room basked in purple light.

Seniors Victoria Vion and Tiffany Huang pose for photos at the ball.

A crowd of people in formalwear stand around a bar, with soda bottles covering the bartop. A woman appears to be ordering a drink, speaking to a bartender. The room is basked in blue-ish purple light.

Students could purchase drink tickets at the event.

Amanserveshimselffromabuffettable.He,likethemanypeoplesurroundinghim, are all dressed in formalwear. The room they are in is basked in purple light.

Food, such as risotto, chicken and platters of dessert were served at the event.

“Our whole team was trying to make students feel like they’re special and they shine because they are and it’s happening,” SGA senator at-large Ben Moran said. “It’s a great opportunity for everyone. I feel like everyone’s enjoying it.”

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“You’ve had one or two glasses of chardonnay and now you’re just having the best time of your life,” Whitescarver said. “All of a sudden, you see someone who you know and you just want to have the best time dancing.”

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The DJ played a variety of songs — from Shakira’s “Hips Don’t Lie” to Taylor Swift’s “Love Story” — for the dance floor.

A man in a tuxedo and a woman in a dress pose side by side in front of a large, circular mirror, facing away from it. Through the mirror, the back of a woman leaning against a balcony railing corner, posing for a photo being taken by a man, is visible. The room is basked in blue-ish purple light.
(Manasa Gudavalli for WSN)

“We kind of bonded because of this,” senior Nora Dillon said. “We’ve had to make our own college and make our own experiences. That makes us stronger and that makes us cooler. It’s nice that we’ve had this dance since NYU wasn’t really there for our beginning.”

A woman with curly hair and half her face dulled by shadows sits at the window seat in a car. It is nighttime outside the window.

Nora Dillon in an Uber with her friends after the Violet Ball.

“We found each other, and that’s big and I love that,” Dillon said. “I love being able to celebrate that. So I’m happy for us.” 


Contact Manasa Gudavalli at [email protected].

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  • A

    Alisia HoughtalingMar 5, 2024 at 5:10 pm

    Really beautifully written and such AMAZING photos. Wowza!!!