UW-Eau Claire turns retro with return of Gatsby’s Gala

The retro Jazz celebration returns to UWEC

Delia Brandel

More stories from Delia Brandel


Photo by Charlotte Becker

Gatsby’s Gala returns to campus after a COVID-19 hiatus.

This November the UW-Eau Claire-hosted event known as “Gatsby’s Gala” returned to campus after a COVID-19 hiatus. 

The first post-pandemic rendition of this annual event was hosted inside Davies Student Center on the lower campus of UW-Eau Claire. 

The usually modern student hub transformed into a retro music themed jazz club, speakeasy themed bar and poker room for one night. 

Themed after the world-famous novel “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald, those in attendance wore flapper dresses, bowties and slicked back hair.

“It was so dazzling, the way the lights and music made me feel like I was a member of upper echelon society,” Leo, a first-year student, said. 

Leo, along with many of their friends, dressed up and attended this event as a fun, unconventional weekend activity. 

Taking place on Saturday, Nov 12, this event was open to all, with a discounted ticket price for students, making it more accessible for those attending UW-Eau Claire to enjoy a night out. 

Many staff, alumni and members of the community came as well to experience and celebrate the music and hard work of those who put it all together. 

Along with an auction, there was also an array of cakes and desserts, and two staffed bars and a popcorn machine to enjoy while wandering from one vintage decorated room to the next. 

The event was black tie, and encouraged participants to dress in ‘20s attire. This could be a draw that brought in much of the student body as a way to emulate a school dance, similar to prom or a winter ball. 

The decorations were period appropriate, including couches, signs and lighting related to the era along with actors and ballroom dancers to further emulate a 1920s jazz club experience. 

“That is the highlight, the great costumes,” Anne said, who went to the Gala this year for the first time. 

When asked if they would recommend this event to friends and family, first time Gala attendee and Eau Claire community member Lanita said, “It’s a fun night to dress up and dance and have fun” 

The Gala is hosted to honor and celebrate jazz music, and to bring the community together. 

The website for the event states, “Eau Claire Jazz, Inc. supports and promotes the culture of jazz music. Gatsby’s Gala is a fundraiser for the UW-Eau Claire Jazz Studies scholarship program.” 

The culture, music and dancing within this event allow community members to support the arts in Eau Claire through participation in the event and the purchase of tickets, food and auction bids.

The music itself is an array of student and guest performers, including but not limited to the top UW-Eau Claire Jazz band split into two ensemble groups and Chippewa Valley’s own Cathy Herndon.

Cathy is also known for her performances at the Ritz Carlton in New York and her jazz album “For you my love.

An annual tradition, the Gatsby’s Gala will be hosted again next year in November. 
Brandel can be reached at [email protected].