The School of Foreign Service’s 89th Annual Diplomatic Ball, held tonight at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, has resurrected old traditions and is also seeking to establish new ones.
As the 90th Diplomatic Ball and the School of Foreign Service centennial approach in the coming years, the 2014 Dip Ball Planning Committee Co-Chairs Victoire Carrasco (SFS ’15) and Isobel Blakeway-Phillips (SFS ’16) decided to go through university archives to bring back old traditions in a fresh way.
“Georgetown is a great place to do innovative things, to do innovative projects, to set up student groups, but what we like and what we’re trying to bring back is the fact that Georgetown also has a great history,” Carrasco said.
Most notably, the committee revived the turtle hunt, where wooden turtles with a voucher for subsidized ball tickets around their necks are hidden around campus for lucky students to discover.
“It was kind of a way to include campus also,” Carrasco said. “We found an ad in one of the archives and so we thought we’d change it up a bit and do something different.”
Turtle finders posted photos to the Georgetown University Diplomatic Ball Facebook page, where other archived material, including news clippings dating back 50 years, has been posted in the past few weeks.
Mixing the old with the new, the committee changed up the guest list with help from the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy. The ISD worked with the committee to invite mid-level foreign service officers and other professionals in the fields of international relations and government to encourage more interaction between students and professionals.
“We thought that inviting mid-level officials or professionals would be a good chance for students to actually get that real networking opportunity because sometimes with the older diplomats it’s a bit hard,” Carrasco said.
Many aspects of the ball, however, remain unchanged. Tickets for the event are, as is typical, sold out. Over 750 Georgetown students, State Department workers, professors and diplomats will attend. This year’s diplomats hail from 45 different countries, including Ukraine, Afghanistan, Egypt and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The Corcoran offers a venue appropriate for the specific capacity, financial needs and excitement of Dip Ball, according to SFS Special Programs Assistant Benjamin Zimmerman.
“Venue decisions come largely down to availability first, then size to accommodate enough guests for us to cover our costs — this is a non-profit venture — and then the factor of the most exciting venue for the guests comes into play,” Zimmerman said.
Some galleries will be open for viewing the night of the ball, including “Loop,” by Jennifer Steinkamp and Jimmy Johnson, an installation at the gallery until April 20.
The event traditionally draws high attendance from SFS and College students, while numbers from the School of Nursing and Health Studies and the McDonough School of Business lag. Similar demographics are expected this year, which Carrasco says is common sense.
“Yes, it’s mainly SFS and College because we do invite diplomats. … So, it’s a big party, everyone dresses up, it’s a formal, but it’s also a chance to network,” Carrasco said.
“People who want to come usually find a way of coming, so we don’t feel the need to kind of greatly go about diversifying. I think we always try to make it a campus-wide event.”
However, students may be deterred by the high price tag of the nonprofit ball.
Anna Stone (COL ’15) has attended Dip Ball since her freshman year, but only gratis courtesy of her boyfriend’s involvement in the SFS Academic Council. She says having to pay full price for tickets would definitely deter her.
“Especially because Dip Ball happens so close to Senior Ball, and a lot of seniors go to Dip Ball, you’re buying basically two $100 tickets. … Especially when you think about girls, they don’t want to wear the same dress twice,” Stone said.
Though Dip Ball may face challenges such as a high price tag and competition with attendees to the Spring Kickoff Concert, which is being held on campus the same night, it certainly isn’t a Georgetown tradition that is going anywhere.
“The Diplomatic Ball is a great chance to network. You go, it’s very formal, but at the same time it’s informal. You get to meet people that you wouldn’t normally meet,” Carrasco said.