“The Sheraton Room of the Copley-Plaza Hotel in Boston was the setting for our class Ring Dance – which we hope will become a tradition.” This eager wish echoed from the covers of a dusty copy of a 1950 MMA yearbook.
… a wish that came true. By 1954 the tradition was established. According to that yearbook, during the dance held at the Sheraton Plaza Hotel, “Admiral Wilson eased any tension at the commencement of the rite with his anecdote about the origin of the ring ceremony. He reminded the Midshipmen that previously there had been no such affair but instead the boys threw each other into the brig. This was abruptly discontinued when one of them failed to come up. Immediately the Commissioners discontinued this dangerous ritual and substituted the somewhat milder and much more desirable Ring Dance.”
Each Midshipman and his date walk to a binnacle positioned under a huge ring. In ’54 the ring was made of carnations. Today, it’s a paper mâché replica of an Academy ring. The date places the ring on the middies finger and seals it with a kiss, signifying that he/she is now married to the sea. They then step through the ring and dance until the last couple have completed the ritual. In a recent addendum, each cadet then dips their ring in “waters from the seven seas” which the same cadets had collected from their vast sea adventures to signify a christening of the new gold and a future on the water.
Rings have always symbolized unity, wholeness, infinity, and often stand as visible badge of authority – worn by bishops, kings, officers, rulers and other leaders. At service academies and regimental colleges, the ring is worn by the class in power showing who is in command of the regiment of cadets.
Fast forward and the Ring Dance has changed from a senior class event to a junior tradition, taking place shortly after the Change of Command. This year’s dance was held on May 18 at the 60 State Street State Room looking over the Boston Harbor and city skyline; while the male cadets wore the classic choker white uniforms, the women cadets wore a vibrant red gown – elegant yet easily identifiable as a unified member of the regiment.
This dance is a celebration for the junior class to kick of their senior year with a bang and also to reflect on the memories collected over the past few years.