Centenary College used to hold dances all the time. One dance that used to be very popular was the Sweetheart Ball, the yearly Valentine’s Day dance.
The first mention of a Valentine’s dance was in 1939, but it appears to earn the name Sweetheart Ball sometime after that. The name Sweetheart Ball is first found in a 1943 issue of the student newspaper. The Freshmen class hosted the dance, where girls danced until 1:00 and then enjoyed a midnight snack in the Little Theatre.
The next year, the Sweetheart Ball was given by a committee of girls from all the Centenary sororities and called the Inter-Sorority Sweetheart Ball. Many of the girls went to the dance with blind dates – boys who came from surrounding colleges and stayed in Hackettstown hotels for the weekend. There was a joint vocal concert by the boys from nearby Stevens College and the girls of Centenary, followed by some skating and sledding. The group then ate dinner and went to the Sweetheart Ball, where one of the girls was crowned the “Queen of Hearts”. Over the next few years, a group of three to five girls called the Valentine’s Court was also crowned.
Starting in the 1950s, the Sweetheart Ball was no longer the feature of Inter-Sorority Weekend. There are fewer references to it in the student newspaper, only printing a picture of Centenary’s President Seay crowning that year’s queen. The dance was no longer the Valentine’s celebration it was, but and eventually stopped being called the Sweetheart Ball. Fewer references still exist in the 1970s newspapers, and in 1989 the Inter-Sorority Ball was canceled due to lack of interest. There were no further references to Inter-sorority Weekend or the Sweetheart Ball. Centenary has just recently introduced a new sorority – maybe they might consider starting this up again!