Middlemarch Returns - But Not to Campus
By Stephen Gawlik
On March 19, Superman, Wonder Woman, The Incredible Hulk and a gaggle of super villains will gather somewhere in this fair city - and only Boston College students will be able to see them.
What sounds like fodder for a new comic book or a forthcoming Hollywood blockbuster is actually the theme for the 2004 Middlemarch Ball, a popular Boston College undergraduate tradition that this year is undergoing a transformation, if not a revival.
Last year, which would have been its 30th anniversary, Middlemarch was cancelled in the wake of fire safety concerns prompted in part by the deadly Feb. 20 Rhode Island nightclub blaze that killed 100 people. Although Middlemarch organizers said they had taken steps to ensure the safety of attendees, the City of Newton would not issue a permit for the event, which was to be held in O'Connell House.
"We made the right decision to cancel it, because ensuring everyone's safety and well-being comes first," said Assistant Dean for Student Development Chris Darcy. "The students understood the reasons for the cancellation and accepted it, even if they were heartbroken."
Instead of seeking a return to O'Connell House this year, Middlemarch organizers elected to have the event in a secret off-campus location. Students attending the ball will not know its location until they step off the bus that will take them there.
Some 1,500 students turned out for last weekend's theme announcement in Conte Forum, where they learned that they will be required to come dressed as their favorite super hero or super villain.
Five O'Connell House staff members and some two dozen volunteers are planning this year's Middlemarch, which organizers say has been considered one of the nation's premiere collegiate social events of the year.
"In past years it had a reputation for being one of the best social events on any college campus across the country," said Darcy. "That has a lot to do with the fact that it's such an exclusive event and it requires so much effort and planning."
O'Connell House staff member Michael Ward '05, while careful not to divulge any of Middlemarch's closely guarded secrets, said, "It should be a pretty good time with a lot of great costumes."
Like all exclusive gatherings, however, not everyone can attend Middlemarch, noted Ward. To qualify for an evening among the likes of the X-Men, Cat Woman and Green Lantern, candidates first had to fill out a quiz that asked trivia questions about pop culture super heroes and Boston College. Some examples: "Who played the roles of Batman and Robin in the 1960's television series?"; "What does the plaque on the O'Connell House piano say?"; and "Aside from Skeletor, name four villains featured in the He-Man cartoons."
Only students who answered all questions correctly were able to enter the ticket lottery for Middlemarch. According to Ward, a total of 550 tickets were drawn last week.
"We think the people who are coming will love what we've got planned," he said. "They can expect to have a good time."