By Tiffany Smith
Fall Preference 2002 is kicking off its high heels and going casual.
Although a traditional formal dance will be held at Aspen Grove, six new and casually-themed activities will be held across the valley to give students a chance to “bust a move” in more relaxed clothing.
“We actually wanted to change the face of preference,” said Dave Cashman, 23, a senior from Snellville, Ga., majoring in the social sciences and BYUSA program director. “We sat down and thought, ”we”ve got Homecoming, both preferences are formal, freshmen have a formal dance—You know, we”re getting kind of old.””
More like parties than dances, this year”s Preference options include a luau at Thanksgiving Point, ice skating at the Peaks Ice Arena, a barbecue and hay rides at the Utah Lake Barn, free bowling and games at the BYU Games Center and at Extreme Sports in Orem, and a casual-dress dance aboard the Heber Creeper.
Adding to the appeal is the fact that the informal venues can be reserved for less money than the reception centers where Preference has traditionally taken place.
Cashman said using the new locations allowed BYUSA to meet the goals that it made when brainstorming for the event: making Preference new and unique, and lowering ticket prices to allow more students to participate.
“We just had homecoming, and you still have to buy a new dress,” said Valerie Shewfelt, a BYUSA staff coordinator. “It gets expensive having two formal dances in a row.”
This year, every ticket is $16, except for the Heber Creeper dance, which is $20.
“We think it”ll be better,” Cashman said. “It”s something new, something different. A lot of locations will have food included, and we”re hoping that we”ll draw upper classmen a lot more than in past years. And it”s just not fun dancing to Top 40s in a formal dress with heels on.”
But not everyone is cheering. Some students are disappointed with the break from tradition.
“Preference is a chance to be like, ”Yeah, I look good,” go on a date, and have fun,” said Julia Meserby, 20, an open-major sophomore from Orem, Utah. “Guys always see you casual. That”s why I go for the dress-up.”
Meserby said that she will most likely attend a casual dance this year, since the prospect of a long drive makes the formal dance at Aspen Grove inconvenient.
Rose Hunter, 18, a freshman from Yakima, Wash., majoring in political science, was enthusiastic about the prospect of a casual date at Seven Peaks Ice Arena.
“You”ve got jeans, gloves, and ice skates. What more romance could you want than that?” she said.
Cashman said the idea may not be a permanent change, and BYUSA will do its best to meet the needs of the students. “If it works, maybe it”s a new tradition, if not, back to formals. If it sells out, we”ll do our best to add more locations.”
Fall Preference is scheduled for Nov. 8th and 9th, but not all activities are scheduled for both nights. Tickets this year go on sale two weeks before the event, on October 26.