UF’s Night of Insidious Temptation
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
“American Girl”
((( florida co-ed )))

alligator file

Having a Ball in Gainesville
by David Dahl
Alligator Staff Writer

It was a ball, just like any other Halloween Ball. People partied, co-eds caroused, and students stripped naked.
One UF official, new to such activity, and quite curious, decided to get a good look at what he had heard described as “organized decadence.”
He climbed atop a Hertz Rental truck parked at the Plaza of the Americas. Before him was the hodgepodge of costumed party goers — ghosts, goblins, and some less traditional ghouls.
But that wasn’t all. On the hood of the very same truck, a couple performed the most ancient of all acts —  in the official’s words, “plowing away,” as a crowd of onlookers cheered on.
It was the ball that broke the Ball’s back.
“Decadence” simply had gotten too prevalent at the event administrators decided a few years later. Too many drug overdoses. Too much vandalism. Too many outside trouble makers.
In 1978 the Ball was banned. The statue of Albert Murphree would be urinated upon no more. Shrubbery on the Plaza of the America’s would no longer be trampled.
No more Halloween happiness allowed, the administrators said.
Oh yes we will, the students replied in a 1979 Spring referendum vote asking for the return of the Ball.
A compromise between the two groups was struck. The groups decided the $150,000 Student Government bandshell would have quite a grand opening — the newly named “Halloween Festival.” The event would be held on a week night and would be away from the staid sanctity of UF’s oldest buildings. Most of all, it would be toned down, the administrators ordered.
The event had survived again.
Since its inception in 1970, the Halloween Ball, Festival, or whatever you call it, has seen four sites, changed sponsors from year to year, and even been kicked out of Gainesville.
Yet it endures.
Subterranean Circus Shop owner Bill Killeen and the Rose Community Center sponsored the first and second Annual Balls in 1970 and 1971, until it moved to the The Plaza of The America (on-campus) in 1972.

Back then, the Ball started late, around midnight, and featured local bands, including Mudcrutch, Tom Petty’s band before The Heartbreakers.

The Ball, with its odd costumes and dope-smoking revelers, remained at the Plaza of the America’s until 1973, Killeen said. That year, the Ball was moved to what then was known as Santa Fe Junior College, and held on Nov 3. In 1974, the Ball again was moved — this time to Archer, where Michael Murphy appeared and played his mellow rock.

The thousands of people and cars overwhelmed the  tiny town southwest of Gainesville, and forced the Ball back to Hogtown in 1975.
The Plaza of the Americas, after two years without student “watering,” received the Ball’s return with open arms … and so did the partiers — in excess. Sometime after The Climax Blues Band played, a $550 tape player was stolen from Student Government, a number of drunk and disorderly arrests were made, and two people were admitted to Shands Teaching Hospital with minor injuries.
The trouble angered many in the administration, but the Ball survived to rage another day.
In 1976, Commander Cody and sheets of rain came to the Plaza for the event. Students threw firecrackers at Cody, Killeen remembers, but the performer, un-phased, continued to play.
“He probably got off on it,” Killeen said.
So did the students. The ball returned again to the Plaza in 1977. The Dixie Desperadoes and the NEW RIDERS OF THE PURPLE SAGE played their brand of Country and Southern Rock. Notably, in addition to the thousands of UF students who had come to party, a gang of nearly 30 motorcyclists showed up, and in keeping with the Ball’s decadent tradition, a semi-clad woman was found throwing herself against (dancing with) a fence. The responding police reported that both the fence and the woman survived, and neither was worse for the wear.
“We’ve played in some weird places,” Purple Sage lead guitarist David Nelson said, “but I’ve never seen anything like this.”
In the opinion of many, the next year’s Ball was the last to see such madness, but 1978 was the maddest of them all.
Twelve thousand party-goers showed up. Drugs, pot, and liquor again were mainstays. Police reported many were walking around “half naked,” and an amorous couple was, as others had before, “plowing away” as a group watched and cheered them on. And for one last straw, someone threw a teargas canister near Library West at about 1 a.m., and the party was over.
Enough was enough. Administrators decided to end the destruction. On Dec. 3, Student Affairs Vice President Art Sandeen brought an ax down on the Ball, saying he could no longer “condone” the event.”
(cont’d next year?)



Despite UF president A.A. Murphree’s “DO NOT SURRENDER TO INSIDIOUS TEMPTATION” warning to the new students in 1912, the Halloween Ball evolved, and became one of the University of Florida’s most notorious Annual Events, right up there with Homecoming, Greek Week, and Graduation. 

Murphree, the seminarian couldn’t have imagined how insidious his university would become. Could He? The Halloween Ball was credited with keeping UF on Playboy magazine’s infamous “Top 10 Party School” list (1975-1985), and earning Murphree’s university the reputation he had always prayed to avoid.

Sports Almighty

1912 — UF’s first and founding president, Albert A. Murphree argued that Florida was the best bible college in the (south) land. That the Ivy League, Northeastern elite had nothing on the Southeast faithful. Those Yankees might know how to row a boat, but they’re a bunch of pussies on a football field, and we know that a school’s stadium is the only place that ever really matters.

FLORIDA FIELD — How the UF Administration turned a beautiful, oak-shaded, traditional red-brick football stadium, and turn it into an obnoxious, bottom line, artificially inteligent “Swamp.”

O’CONNELL CENTER — The folly of Stephen C. O’Connell’s Inflatable Doll. Over Budget Over Time Controversial Design Hot Air Alien Bounce House Irresistible Temptation One Last Sensation To Go End of the Evening’s Party. O’Connelling UF’s Own College Pranks for the Memory.


After Midnight

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
Damn The Torpedos
1979 “Casa Dega” is a song about a small, Central Florida town (south of Ocala and west of Daytona Beach) that is home to a number of psychics, fortune tellers, and mystics who do personal readings in their homes for anyone who dares to ask.
((( psychic-delic )))