Long-exposure photograph of the dance floor by Brea Bremer.
Four years after its founding, TIDE Academy had its first Homecoming dance last Friday night, a key high school experience for the school’s inaugural senior class.
The neon-themed dance took place on TIDE’s third floor, where students had their choice of a black light dance floor, a lounge with food and entertainment, and an open patio area with seats and tables between the two rooms. Tickets were only $15, bumped up to $20 the week of Homecoming, but students could get their money’s worth in free pizza (nearly 30 boxes!), candy, and drinks.
Student Government teacher Emily Ferrario said, “As soon as this current school year started, the TIDE Associated Student Council’s (TASC) Special Events commission got to work deciding on theme, DJ, games, and how to best utilize the space on TIDE’s third floor.” Students received glowstick bracelets as they checked in, ensuring that all students could wear neon even without neon clothes. Thanks to the broad theme, students wore a mix of casual wear and formal suits and dresses, plus the occasional costume in the spirit of spooky season.
Neon shined under the black light, adding to the nightlife-esque atmosphere of the dance room. As the night wore on, not only people’s clothes but also their faces started to glow.
Senior Lucy Rutherford brought neon face paint to the dance, drawing stars, hearts, and swirls on cheeks and foreheads that glowed under the black light. Rutherford said, “More and more people came up and wanted some paint, so I ended up with the majority of the school having their face painted or something glowing on them.” Even some of the staff supervising the event had paint on their faces by the end of the night.
The DJ of the night was one of TIDE’s own students, Julian Davidson de Sa. “My dad and I, the last couple years, have been doing professional sound for bands and concerts,” de Sa said. He brought his own speakers, mixers, and other equipment for the dance, set up in the corner of the dance room.
De Sa played a playlist that was approved by the school as well as requests from students. Some hits were “Best Song Ever” by One Direction, “Last Friday Night” by Katy Perry, “Low” by Flo Rida, and “Flashing Lights” by Kanye West. And, of course, the night’s slow dance featured “Perfect” by Ed Sheeran.
One of the highlights of Homecoming for Rutherford was when de Sa played “Cotton-Eyed Joe” by Rednex, a song dear to the seniors. Rutherford explains, “Our senior class learned how to dance to it in freshman year, and none of the other grades knew how to do it. Just all the seniors on the dance floor dancing to the ‘Cotton-Eye Joe’ for, like, five minutes. That was really fun. And it definitely confused a lot of people.”
A smaller dance with more room allowed for dancing circles. “It’s a weird phenomenon,” de Sa said, “but I feel like when you’re in a dance and a crowd of people, you get really into it. And then you start connecting with the people around you, and I feel like the natural response is to get in a circle.” A student or students sometimes entered the center of the circle to sing or dance. De Sa was often one of these students.
If at any point students wanted a break from dancing, there were also activities in the lounge. Students could sit down and watch The Nightmare Before Christmas or Hocus Pocus, and play a game of ping pong, air hockey, or foosball with friends.
Although De Sa preferred the dance floor, he said, “If you get overwhelmed, you can step off to the side and play a couple of games and relax and still be in the social event without feeling isolated.”
Students naturally migrated between the dance floor and the lounge or patio throughout the night. When asked about the cause of this flow, De Sa said, “When that great song that everyone knows comes on, people run out and go, ‘yo, it’s whatever song, come on, come on!’ and they all start running in.”
Indeed, there was never a dull moment in either room. Homecoming succeeded far better than previous TIDE dances, partly due to the fact that this is the school’s first year with students in all grade levels.
Nathan Valencia, a senior who has both participated in and contributed to organizing many TIDE dances, said, “Previous years’ dances were pretty dry since we have a really small number of students in each grade. And they were pretty, I don’t want to say bland, but last year, a lot of seniors didn’t want to go.”
He added, “The fact that we had about 90 students come to our Homecoming, and we only have almost 300 students compared to the thousands that other schools have, it’s a really good sign.” Valencia said that TASC’s advertisement and attention to student input was also to thank for this pronounced improvement.
Ferrario added to the praise for TASC’s work put into this year’s Homecoming. She said, “They did an amazing job choosing neon themed decorations, creating a spacious layout, and coordinating with our families to support them with food and drinks for students to enjoy.” This is only the second year that TASC has been running, yet their determination to get things done is admirable; cleaning up decorations and moving the tables, chairs, and other furniture back into the cafeteria and game room only took 20 minutes!
“I honestly think that this was our best dance ever!” Ferrario said. Although many students went to surrounding schools’ dances—such as M-A’s—in the past, Homecoming’s success suggests that more TIDE students may go to their own dances in the future.