Many women can probably agree that surviving sorority recruitment is one of the most intensive, nerve-wracking yet exciting experiences of college. If you successfully conquer the rushing process, you can conquer anything, right? You survived the endless string of interviews, the hours of wearing heels and the pressure of waiting for results. However, the pressure of making impressions doesn’t stop there. Date parties are classic sorority events that typically involve an off-campus venue, dinner and semi-formal attire. Because of the scale the event and the pressure to bring a date, new members might feel nervous or unsure what to expect. If you’re feeling uneasy about an upcoming date party, check out these do’s and don’ts for some guidance.
1. Do wear comfortable clothing
We all have that one dress that stays at the back of our closet because we’re convinced it’ll eventually be worn, but we inwardly know how much it itches in all the worst places. Even if it’s the most beautiful dress and gives you Gigi Hadid’s figure, don’t even think about wearing it. Anupama Shah, a sophomore at Georgia Tech University, advises against any rash decisions.
“Even if there’s a theme, make sure you wear something comfortable because it’s your event,” she says. “It’s so much better to be happy and comfortable than uncomfortable and miserable.”
The same rule applies for shoes. If you can walk in six-inch stilettos with perfect balance, we’re definitely all jealous. Heels make your calves look killer and somehow give you an air of confidence that no other piece of apparel can. But most of us can agree that beauty is pain and heels hurt after wearing them for more than a few hours.
Julia Fischer, a sophomore at the University of Chicago, says, “Make the right choice on footwear because if you’re in heels, you’re stuck in them for a good amount of time.”
Just like wearing heels to high school graduation, you’re going to be standing for what seems like forever, and there’s plenty of attractive yet comfortable alternatives to sky-high shoes.
2. Don’t feel pressured to bring a date
While the actual name of the event insinuates bringing a date, that doesn’t mean you’ll be kicked out or ostracized if you don’t. In fact, inviting a friend to one of your first Greek events might be even more fun. Sunday Tollefson, author of RUSH RIGHT: Reveal Your Best YOU During Sorority Recruitment and creator of SureSister Sorority Recruitment Prep Course believes you should feel good about your decision in the end.
“Are you going to meet new people? Or are you going to have fun with your crew? You can always go solo to any event [and] can always bring a friend. [But] it does not have to be a romantic date,” she says. “Any urgency or pressure you may feel to have a date should be dismissed. Why? Because that urgency is based in fear, and fear emotions ALWAYS create bad choices.”
Like your choice of dress and heels for the event, your choice of escort or companion should be comfortable, too. You shouldn’t feel like you can’t be yourself around the person, especially in a larger group setting. Because if something goes wrong, you’ll want someone to be there to help. And if you come alone, stick by your sorority sisters for the same reason.
3. Do manage your expectations
When you go to a Greek social function for the first time, it’s important to think about what you want to get out of it. Do you want to meet new people? Do you want to sit back and observe the atmosphere? Going into the party with an realistic goal can sometimes help if you’re the type of person who hates being surprised or blindsided.
“Manage your expectations and set an intention to enjoy the event,” says Tollefson. “Whether your goal is to meet special someone, help a friend meet someone special, or to be entertained by the antics of everyone else trying to meet someone special, being honest with yourself ahead of time is a great way to ensure you’ll wake up happy the next day.”
Having an idea of what kind of memories you’d like to take away from your first (of probably many) date parties can put your mind at ease when you’re getting ready. That way, you can focus on other more fun outfit-related matters.
4. Don’t stress out too much
College is a breeding ground for all kinds of stress – academic, mental, social, physical. Date parties shouldn’t be yet another inducer of stress on top of classwork, personal care and relationships. They instead should be a place where you can go to relieve all the stress that’s been building the whole week. Stephanie Huynh, a sophomore at Lehigh University, agrees that date parties are for letting go and having fun.
“Date parties are a super fun way to let loose on a weekend,” she says. “I guess something to avoid is not stress too much about your date whether that means going with someone as a friend or with the intention of hooking up. You’re there to have a good time and let loose, so just go with the flow. Many girls I know stress so much about their dates that they let it ruin the night that’s just supposed to be fun.”
Save your worries for things that will affect you in the long run. One date party isn’t going to matter by the end of the semester, but if will give you great memories if you relax!
5. Do enjoy yourself responsibly
Greek life often has ties to a sometimes dangerous college drinking culture. Social events like date parties and mixers usually have access to alcohol, whether it’s beer, wine or hard liquor. It doesn’t matter if you’re new to the drinking scene or can hold her own, enjoying yourself in a responsible manner will optimize fun.
“It’s probably a good idea not to get completely trashed,” says Julia, “because you’ll most likely be sent home from the event, especially if it’s at an off-campus venue.”
Drinking is also a completely optional activity. You can attend a date party without partaking in alcohol consumption and still have a great time. The most important thing is that you’re comfortable and happy.
6. Don’t ignore your gut
Sometimes the most fun nights out can turn sour, but that doesn’t mean you have to endure them. Your wellbeing is important, so throw obligation to the wind and put yourself first. Emma*, a junior at Stanford University, recalls the time she didn’t listen to her gut when she started to feel sick at a sorority date party.
“For the first half of the party, I had a great time,” she says. “I danced with my date and hung out with my sorority sisters, but I started feeling pretty ill as the night went on. I didn’t want to be the party pooper and tell my date I wanted to leave, so I stuck it out. The worst part was I became sick with the flu the next day.”
You shouldn’t ever feel badly for leaving a social function. If you’re not having a good time, don’t feel well or just straight up want to go home, you have every right to say your goodbyes. Of course, you can totally make a dash for the door as well. Making an Irish exit at a large party is totally acceptable.
7. Do plan ahead
There’s nothing worse than being at a party and then realizing you had forgotten to turn in a history paper before its midnight deadline. We’ve all been there. Being in a sorority can feel like a full-time job on top of regular schoolwork with all of the different social events other commitments you have to make. If you put down a party into your planner, keep an eye on which assignments are due in the days leading up to the event. By turning them in a day before the party, you’ll feel much more relieved and can focus on enjoying yourself.
Whether you’re bringing a date or a friend, wearing a cocktail dress or a gown, just remember to enjoy one of your first major Greek social events and take lots of pictures. You’ll definitely want to look back at them with positive memories. Now that you have some idea of what to expect from a date party, there’s nothing to be worried about!
*Name has been changed