The SIU Arena may have been the hottest club south of Chicago Saturday night.
Kappa Alpha Psi hosted the annual Player’s Ball, which saw a sold-out crowd turn the basketball court into a massive dance floor.
Kappa Alpha Psi President Brandon Atkins said the event, which drew about 2,000 college students from SIUC and across the country, has been a tradition since the early ‘90s as part of the fraternity’s week of events.
Because people come from out of town, it brings business to the community and puts a positive spotlight on Carbondale, he said.
Atkins said the ball gained notoriety because of its association with the decades-long tradition of Kappa Karnival, an outdoor cookout party.
The event was organized and paid for by the chapter in conjunction with the university’s Student Life and Intercultural Relations office, he said, and overall it cost about $40,000.
Despite the scope and time involved in setting up the event, fraternity member Holden Mallory said its appeal
is quite simple.
“People can just come and have a good time,” he said.
Several partiers said the event was good because the arena was bigger than a typical club.
The music was provided by DJ Iceberg, who, along with numerous hype men, got the crowd going.
Dancing started on the floor, but as the near-constant stream of guests arrived, the court quickly filled. If the seating seemed like a refuge from the bump and grind of the floor, it wasn’t for long, because dancing soon spilled into the bleachers.
Especially daring partiers took to dancing on top of the narrow concrete barriers around the floor. Not all of them were able to stay on their feet.
Jen Peterson, of Hoffman Estates, said she came down from the Chicago area because a friend invited her, and she said she would make the six-hour drive again.
Peterson said for her, finding the right dress wasn’t a big deal because she didn’t really care about it.
However, that didn’t seem to be the norm.
The dress styles were myriad, with partiers donning animal prints, stripes, sequins, floral patterns, lace, pink, green, red, neons and everything in between. There were few, if any, women who didn’t come in heels.
Amber Shorter, a junior from Chicago studying theater, said finding just the right dress was a big deal. Despite all her hard work though, she said she spotted another woman wearing the same one.
However, it may not have been too disastrous.
“I think I look better,” she said.
She said it was her third Player’s Ball and she’d be coming again next year.
Though the event is alcohol-free, partiers said it wasn’t a big deal because there was no restriction on what they could do before they showed up.
Peterson said like a lot of people, she drank beforehand, but aside from a couple of fights, she didn’t see anything too crazy.
Though there are occasional disagreements between partiers, the event doesn’t create any more crime than one would expect from a gathering with as many people, SIUC Police Director Todd Sigler said.
He said the police worked with Kappa Alpha Psi and the Arena staff to coordinate security.
“By and large, the group has done a good job,” he said.
There were at least three altercations. One involved a young woman who continued to dance on partiers as she was escorted up the steep stairs and away from the dance floor.
Another fight broke out in the middle of the dance floor and tore through the crowd before dissipating more or less naturally. The empty space left in its wake was filled with dancers in moments.
After all, the music itself hadn’t missed a beat.