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Gatsby’s Gala returns to UW-Eau Claire Nov. 12

| Denise Olson

Photo caption: The dance floor at Gatsby's Gala is open to all, from novices to polished dancers. Dust off your best duds and join in the fun — you won't want to miss it.

The weather is getting colder, which means it’s about that time when the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire turns up the heat in Davies Center with the annual Gatsby’s Gala, set for Nov. 12.

Get ready to step back in time at the signature campus event that whisks attendees back to the “Roaring ’20s.” Complete with dramatic big bands, exquisite ballroom decor, and vintage black-tie attire, Gatsby’s Gala delivers the sounds, songs and dance feeling of an unforgettable era.

Sponsored and orchestrated by Eau Claire Jazz Inc., the gala is a fundraiser for the UW-Eau Claire jazz studies program, bringing in scholarship monies to offer Blugold students expanded opportunities to excel in their passion for jazz music, studies and performance.

Gatsby’s Gala begins at 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 12, and tickets may be purchased online or in person at the Service Center desk in Davies Center. Cost is $20 for Blugold students and $45 for the general public.

As always, Robert Baca, professor of music and director of jazz studies at UW-Eau Claire, is leading the charge in bringing the ’20s to life once again with all his energy and enthusiasm.

“Time to pull out those flapper dresses, rent those zoot suits and see if the two-toned oxfords still fit, as we get ready for the university and community fall party of the year — the great Gatsby’s Gala,” Baca says.

Baca says the three hours of nonstop music throughout the third floor of Davies will be “roof-blowing,” featuring UW-Eau Claire’s Jazz Ensembles I and II, guest vocalists and instrumentalists from the university and community, himself included.

“Some highlights include the dazzling Artie Shaw swinging clarinet concerto with clarinet professor Dr. Alyssa Power, the Weapons of Brass Destruction ensemble, and our very own Eau Claire native back from New York’s Ritz Carlton hotel, Cathy Herndon, who will entertain you in the Dakota Room when it’s time to rest the feet for a few minutes,” Baca says.

The music will range from Louis Armstrong, who Baca says is the “one who started it all,” to the great Big Band leaders of the ’30s and ’40s to present-day Earth Wind and Fire, to Taylor Swift and Fergie’s “A Little Party Never Killed Nobody.”

In addition to the music and dancing, the night also offers food and beverages, charity gaming and a silent auction to keep partygoers entertained.

This annual campus event is produced in partnership with Eau Claire Jazz Inc. Executive director and Blugold jazz studies alumnus Quentin Volk is proud to bring this night of music back with new and exciting elements every year.

“Gatsby’s Gala became a community favorite in its first year,” Volk says. “The quality and uniqueness through every element of the event make it an unforgettable party.”

Volk was a student in the jazz studies program in 2014 when the event was first brainstormed and eventually hosted by Eau Claire Jazz Inc. Aside from the “glitz and glamor” fun it provides, the mission of Gatsby’s Gala makes it a special experience for all students performing, he says.

“For me, being a part of an event that hosted over 1,200 people that first year, all coming together to party and support the mission of producing a student scholarship fund for jazz studies students was special,” Volk says. “This event continues to provide new Blugolds with such a sense of identity and connection to something greater than themselves.  

“Personally, now being on the planning side of the event, that sense is even stronger.”