By Emily Gold Boutilier 

Well after dark on the Friday after Valentine’s Day, a handful of students mill about in the lobby of Charles Pratt, the new first-year dorm. A band is playing, but no one is on the dance floor. Still, it’s early—only 10 p.m. And Katherine Black ’10, who organized the night’s Pratt Prom with her fellow RCs, isn’t worried. She doesn’t expect a crowd until 11 or 11:30.

   Pratt Prom
   When Katherine Black '10 (in silver) set
   eyes on the sweeping staircase in
   Charles Pratt, she told her fellow RCs,
   "This is made for prom photos." 

Dressed in a sparkly silver dress, Black matches the “Winter Wonderland” décor. The idea for the prom came in August, she says, when she set eyes on the dorm’s sweeping staircase. “I said, ‘You guys, this is made for prom photos.’” She saw the dance as a way to bring the Class of ’11 together in one place.

To prepare, the RCs bought out the silver-ribbon section at a local craft store. “I said, ‘I want it sparkling,’” Black recalls. Her hands gesture to the silver snowflakes hanging from the ceiling. “‘I want winter. I want people to remember this.’”

At the dance, the women arrive in everything from little black dresses to full-on prom gowns. One wears a yellow sundress with knee-high boots. Many of the guys are in dark suits and ties, but some have opted for jeans, and one looks ready to go to the gym. But that’s fine; the dress code is loose. “You don’t need a date,” Black says, looking around at all the single people in the room. “You don’t need a corsage.”

It’s close to 11 p.m. when Ester Johansson-Lebron ’11 and Scarlett Johnson ’11 arrive at the party from the third floor, where they live. The women plan to hit the dance floor—“even,” insists Johansson-Lebron, “if no one else does.”
Later, after the dancing and schmoozing and the midnight toast with sparkling cider, Black showers thanks on Sam Haynes, associate dean of students and director of student activities; Torin Moore, assistant dean of students and director of residential life; Ben Lieber, dean of students; and Allen Hart ’82, dean of new students, for their help. She sends an e-mail to Amherst that read like an Oscar-night acceptance speech: “In addition to Dean Haynes, Dean Moore, Dean Lieber, Dean Hart, Program Board and Social Council, I want to make sure that I thank the freshman RCs as well as the upper-class RCs who helped make Pratt Prom such an amazing, special night. Also a special thanks to Jessica Mestre ’10 for photographing the event and to the Blue Nomads and DJ Lenore Bell ’08 for amazing music. I am especially grateful for my wonderful co-RCs in Charles Pratt: Sara Nelson ’08, Carrie Dulaney ’10, Ryan Shields ’08 and Josh Nathan ’10.”

The RCs are happy; the first-years are happy—not bad for a Friday night.

Photo by Jessica Mestre '10