Ballers at Barristers: Three Perspectives on the Night

Daniel Grill ‘19
Staff Editor

As a 3L, I was very excited for my last Barrister’s Ball. Previous Barrister’s Balls were very fun, but each had their own shortcomings from the line at the bar to the music. This year’s event included key improvements that contributed to a fun night for all.

              Upon entering the event, I was hounded by the Law Weekly paparazzi (S/O Kolleen/Pittsburg State Gorillaz). While I was not prepared to answer “who I was wearing,” the makeshift light stand and backdrop created the red-carpet environment Barrister’s has needed. The pictures turned out very nice and were a fun way to remember a great night.

Daniel Natal ’19, Gabriela Wolk ‘19, Maggie Echols ’19, and Alyssa Daniels ‘19 pose for the Law Weekly’s camera with their very cool props. Photo Credit Koleen Gladden ‘21.

Daniel Natal ’19, Gabriela Wolk ‘19, Maggie Echols ’19, and Alyssa Daniels ‘19 pose for the Law Weekly’s camera with their very cool props. Photo Credit Koleen Gladden ‘21.

              As I proceeded into the main room, I was surprised to see long lines at each of the bars. In light of President Fuqua’s day-before email, I expected short lines. Luckily, the lines moved very quickly and my flashbacks to the lines at last year’s Barrister’s subsided. This was a major improvement from last year when I felt like I was waiting in line for much of the night. The lines may have moved faster because of the separate water and soda-only stations.

              With a corn-syrup-free Bud Light in hand, I decided to explore the food options in the back corner of the venue. Expecting the chicken tenders and sliders of years’ past, I was disappointed with the food options. The first hour of Barrister’s was limited to tortilla chips with salsa and queso, which were not particularly good. I even overheard one 3L, who asked to remain anonymous, say, “This queso is hot trash. We have far better queso where I grew up in Houston. This is nothing compared to the queso in Nashville, where I attended college. I bet I can make better queso at my home on Alderman Road.” Needless to say, the chips, salsa, and queso did not meet expectations. At around 10:30, pizza was served. They served plain, pepperoni, and vegetable pizza. For journalistic purposes, I tried all three and none were very good. I would have preferred pizza from Christian’s or any other local establishment. The food was certainly the low point of the evening.

              Food and drink aside, the music and dancing are undoubtedly the most important part of Barrister’s. Throughout the night, the DJ played great music and it seemed like everyone was enjoying themselves. The dance floor was packed for the majority of the night, which is the true mark of a great Barrister’s.

              As Barrister’s wound down, the Gunners ‘n Roses after-party was just beginning at Rapture. Typical of Gunners ‘n Roses concerts, an eager crowd quickly filled the bar. The band matched the crowd’s energy with a brand-new set list including crowd favorites like Tongue Tied and The Middle ft. Chris Martin ’19. GNR truly brought the heat on Saturday night and set the tone for another semester of great performances.

              In conclusion, Barrister’s was an excellent event. While the food was limited, the lines at the bar were far shorter than last year and the music at the Omni and Rapture was great. It was clear that SBA improved upon the issues we experienced last year.

Taylor Elicegui ‘20
Features Editor

This year’s James Bond-themed Barrister’s Ball was a smashing success. In keeping with the theme, red, black and metallic long dresses appeared to be the most popular fashion choices of the night. The music choices were great and the dance floor overflowing. Who knew law students could get down so well, particularly to the YMCA?[1] I did see a few too many dance floor makeouts, though—we don’t party in the basement of fraternities anymore, people, and it is officially time to leave the DFMO where it rightfully belongs (with the undergrads). The Law Weekly photo booth was a nice touch and the line wasn’t too long (at least when I was there). Shout out to Kolleen Gladden for her fantastic photography skills. And it was quite exciting when my pictures arrived so quickly.

            The food and drinks were good and plentiful. I heard a lot of rave reviews about the pizza and nachos, and the different table options were a nice touch (both high tops and regular seating). The high tops made a particularly good place to hide your high heels when your feet started to hurt too much, not that I’m speaking from personal experience here. Obviously, the bar lines were a little too long, but I’m not sure that is a problem that can ever be solved without raising the ticket prices to absurd levels.

Eric Hall ‘18, former production editor of the Virginia Law Weekly, with the amazing and incomparable Trina Rizzo ‘19. Photo Credit Koleen Gladden ‘21

Eric Hall ‘18, former production editor of the Virginia Law Weekly, with the amazing and incomparable Trina Rizzo ‘19. Photo Credit Koleen Gladden ‘21

            As a dedicated GNR groupie, I left the Omni on the earlier side to migrate to Rapture, so I got in without any problem. I did hear grumblings about people not being able to get in later, which is unfortunate, but I believe these ever-resourceful students found their way to another bar without too much trouble. GNR crushed the show and lead singer Trina Rizzo gave a great performance. I particularly liked the addition of “Shout” to the set. I love any excuse to kick my feet and dance like a fool. Unfortunately, I missed my favorite, “Toxic,” fighting to get to the bar, which was a struggle all night, but I heard it was great.

            All in all, 2L Barrister’s was a blast. SBA did a great job organizing and seeing people all dressed up is always fun. I love getting to see friends I don’t see every day, and it’s always nice to have an excuse to buy a new dress. I can’t wait for next year!

[1] At least, UVA Law students can tear up the dance floor. I can’t speak for any of our peer institutions, but I would imagine they are not ~quite~ as fun.

Jacob Jones ‘21
Events Editor

Last semester at PILA, I said to my wise PA that the event felt surprisingly like prom. She replied, “Oh no there’s an actual law school prom in the spring. We call it Barrister’s Ball.” Not knowing what a barrister is or what he does with balls, I played it cool and pretended to know what those words meant just like I always do when encountering other made up law school words. And so, I waited, dreaming about a barrister who was some kind of law school Santa/genie who would give me a clue about fee simples.

I needed to do everything I could to prepare so I didn’t mess things up like my real prom. It’s been awhile since I had done this, so I had to refresh myself on the basics. I watched the SpongeBob episode where he takes Pearl to prom, but that didn’t help too much.  WikiHow gave me some underwhelming advice, including “Make sure your cell phone is fully charged” and “Enjoy your prom!” One wikiHow article had a picture of wine with a crossed-out circle over someone drinking wine, and so I decided the internet was an unreliable source of information for this task.[1] With my go-to sources of advice exhausted, I decided I was going to have to wing it.

First, I needed a date. I don’t remember where I left the megaphone that I used to ask my high school date to prom with, so this time I settled for a simple unilateral contract. Next, I needed to scrounge up $50 for a ticket.[2] Girl Scout cookies were off the table this time around, so I sold some of my highlighter collection and traded up from there.  Then, I needed a pre-prom gathering. My section had a vote on whether to buy Raising Cane’s and pregame with ourselves or mix with a different section, and naturally we went with the chicken. Finally, I needed a limo to show up in style. That was out of the budget, but our Uber driver, Sharadkumar, had a 4.97 rating and offered mints, so I’ll let you be the judge of whether a limo would have been better.[3]

We stepped out of our Uber, and I expected to be greeted by the Barrister. Unfortunately, I saw no one dressed in red, handing out presents, or looking like they came of the 19th century English legal system. I didn’t even see any balls. The man at the coat check seemed confused when I asked. Being an easily deterred person, I abandoned my search for the Barrister and decided to search for a deeper meaning to the night.

So, we stepped onto the dance floor to make the most of the night. I realized that the 3Ls had nothing to lose at this point in their law school experience, and my fellow 1Ls were a bit too comfortable around each other by this point, leading to a lot of DFMOs.[4] Social norms were abandoned in favor of recklessness, and I was a fan.

They say that this is law school prom, but really it was a timeless event. The songs were most of the ones I have been hearing since middle school activity centers,[5] while the open bar reminded me that, shockingly, we’re old enough to be trusted with drinking responsibly. I was having these deep thoughts when someone pointed out there was toilet paper stuck to my shoe. It was actually a napkin, but the damage to my ego was done, and my dance moves were much less wild for the rest of the night.

The legendary Jacob Jones ‘21 strikes a pose with Meg McKinley ’21 at the Barrister’s Ball. Their love was blinding. Photo Credit Koleen Gladden ‘21.

The legendary Jacob Jones ‘21 strikes a pose with Meg McKinley ’21 at the Barrister’s Ball. Their love was blinding. Photo Credit Koleen Gladden ‘21.

The theme of the night was 007, I think. The photo booth props were my biggest clue and maybe the only one.[6] Students seemed to have a lot of fun. Eliza Schultz ’21 said that “it was like the bat mitzvah I wish I’d had,” despite her bartender not knowing what a seltzer was. There were no tables where you could bid $50 to hang with someone else’s dog like you could at PILA so that was a bummer. This was somewhat counterbalanced by seeing law boyz dress up in silly tuxedos.

We were then uplifted to Rapture, where Gunners n’ Roses was doing their first performance of their Farewell Tour. Despite being packed in like sardines in a barrel, law students seemed to have plenty of fun. The band also played some of the songs I loved in middle school, and still do, but this time it was way better.

The next morning I woke and I realized that for one magical night, we had all forgotten about all the stresses of law school for a night. Through friendship, we had transcended themes, legal concepts, and time to let loose on the dance floor and beyond. And maybe that’s what a Barrister is. Friendship.[7]

[1] There are 40 results when you search wikiHow for prom. There are dozens of wikiHow articles about prom. My theory is that a middle-aged woman in the Midwest named Betty has written all of them, and her husband, Bill, edits.

[2] Many people have remarked about the high price, especially in comparison to PILA. I talked to an inside source on SBA, and while I don’t remember exactly what he said it made me feel better about paying that much.

[3] But if you judge against Sharadkumar you are WRONG.

[4] I recently learned this means “Dance Floor Make-Out” and I’m excited to use this hip new lingo.

[5] In retrospect, it was weird they were playing “Get Low” and “Hot in Herre” at dances back then. We were like 12.

[6] Many thanks to Kolleen Gladden ’21 for running this!

[7] Still no clue what the ball is though.