The Back Story: The Sno-Ball

Our students once looked forward to this annual formal dance that featured a queen and her court.

Editor's Note

: Maybe reading up on a "cool" Rebel tradition from the '50s and '60s will take our minds off the triple-digit temperatures that persist as we prepare for the start of a new academic year Monday.

While today's UNLV students associate December with stress of study and finals week, their predecessors could look forward to the elegant Sno-Ball, usually held the third week of December, as the social highlight of the fall semester.

Formal dances were of course much more common in the 1960s, when UNLV was known as the Nevada Southern. The Preference Ball and Sweetheart Ball were the two other popular dances held during the academic year. A beloved Nevada Southern tradition, the Sno Ball provided a way for students on the much smaller campus to celebrate the end of their fall semester with a flourish.

Photographs from Nevada Southern's yearbook Epilogue show that the Sno-Ball was held as far back as 1958 and that faculty members as well as students attended the festive affair. As students danced to the music of a live orchestra, the "perennial punch bowl" was a popular attraction, as was the competition for Sno-Ball Queen. During the 1960s, elegant satin gowns and bouffant hairdos were the order of the day as five co-eds vied for the title of Sno-Ball Queen and her attendants at each year's event.

A Rebel Yell issue from 1963 described that year's theme as "North Star" with decorations of blue and white filling the Gold Room of the Las Vegas Convention Center. A huge replica of the North Star was hung about the queen's throne with all centerpieces at the surrounding tables pointing towards the large star.

Other years saw the Sno-Ball held at venues such as the Desert Inn Country Club and Flamingo Hotel.

Typically, the dance was sponsored by the Intercollegiate Knights in conjunction with the Confederated Students of Nevada Southern (predecessor to CSUN).

Although the student body eventually outgrew the succession of formal dances with their accompanying queens and attendants, yearbook photos of the Sno-Ball serve as a reminder of one of the many past traditions that have contributed to the rich history of campus life at UNLV.

Did you attend a Sno Ball?

The University Archives within Special Collections in Lied Library documents the history of UNLV -- its people, places, and events. Do you have photographs or other materials from your time as a student, staff member, or faculty at UNLV? Contact Special Collections to help document the rich history of the campus.


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