Rika Drew-King

Around midnight on April 2, Whittier College students tiredly lined up, walked across a parking lot and slumped onto the waiting bus. Many of them fell asleep immediately, exhausted from dancing the night away, but a few stayed awake to discuss the evening’s events in tired but excited whispers.

Their night had been spent at the restaurant Luminarias in Monterey Park. Thanks to Whittier College’s Program Board (a committee and organization under the Associated Students of Whittier College Senate), they enjoyed an evening of delicious food and lively dancing that lasted until 1:30 in the morning. The dance, titled “Lumies,” has been a Whittier College tradition for several years now and is always hosted in a different location. This year the venue’s name perfectly matched the theme that the dance has traditionally had.

Before the event, students had the opportunity to purchase tickets in front of the Campus Inn (CI), on OrgSync or in the Leadership Experiences and Programming (LEAP)  Office. If students bought their Lumies ticket outside the CI, it was probably from sophomore Rudy Marquez. Marquez has worked on Luminarias for two years now, but this year he got to take a greater leadership role in advertising the dance and its “lights” theme.

At the restaurant, under lights wrapped in swaths of fabric draped from the ceiling, students were served an upscale dinner. After the meal they were offered ice cream from Creamistry, a creamery unique in their style of serving ice cream; their employees freeze the dessert with liquid nitrogen right in front of the customer. As they awaited their turn for ice cream, the groups of students sat at round tables, decorated with ribbons. “It felt more like a wedding,” says sophomore Susan Rosett. “Which was fine. Last year the food was more buffet-style, which I think made the whole process feel more casual.”

Attendees were treated to an acoustic guitarist who sang during the meal, which may have contributed to the “wedding vibe.” After eating, a DJ from Power 106, a local Los Angeles radio station, took over and played some popular hits, which encouraged a few students to dance. Soon, most people were on the dance floor — in couples and groups of friends — enjoying the music.

Then the music changed, shifting into more obscure hip-hop that the majority of students were unfamiliar with. People started trickling off the dance floor to sit down, massage their feet, or eat some ice cream. “I think that the DJ last year played more music we actually knew,” Rosett said, laughing. “But it was fun either way.”

Junior Elyse James has been to the Luminarias dance every year since she began attending Whittier. As a first-year, James’ “Lumies” experience was spent on a yacht, which she recalled fondly. “The venue and theme [that year] was really fancy. My sophomore year it was at a car museum and the theme was the 20s. This year the theme was lights. I was really confused.”

James says she had to keep reminding herself that she had spent $25 on the ticket, which incentivized her to keep dancing and to spend time with her friends so the money would not go to waste. “I think the thing they were most excited about was that they found a restaurant called ‘Luminarias,’” she said with a frown. James felt as though years in the past had better themes. “But my friends and I had a lot of fun, anyway. I know Senate has a budget for these things, I just wish we had more of a choice on where it was spent.”

According to Marquez, the number of students attending this year was much smaller than in the past, but that the feedback he has heard on their experience has been mostly positive. “I look forward to using this year’s event as a guideline on how to make next year’s Lumies bigger and better for the student body,” Marquez said.