On Campus, Arts & Culture

3rd March 2022

You Shall Go to The Ball! A British Girl at Polish Prom

A night filled with Polonaise, paluszki and Poles, is a night well spent.

The Liverpool Universities Polish Society organised a ball for its Polish members to reminisce and relive their high school Studniówka (prom). PolSoc welcomes people from all Liverpool universities and is also very well connected with other UK Polish societies. So, this event saw people travelling from Manchester and other cities across the UK.

However, all Polish and non-Polish were welcome, hence why I (a British gal) was permitted entry! The committee thoughtfully printed out ‘essential Polish’ translation sheets so we (the shameful monolinguals) could dabble in a bit of the language.

Image credit: Author – Polish phrase sheet

The Tradition of Studniówka

“Studniówka” derives from the adjective studniowy meaning “hundred-day”. Polish proms are therefore held 100 days before leavers’ exams (matura). In attendance would be final year high school students and their teachers.

Attire is formal and traditional. This means suits and neckties for boys and evening gowns for girls. Commonly, girls also wear a red garter or lingerie for good luck in their exams.

I must confess that I had neither a Polish ball-gown nor a red garter in my wardrobe, but it was nice to see all attendees dressed up formally. Everyone looked fab!

The Studniówka is a romantic affair. You take a date (or else scramble around to find a dancing partner later) and the girls sometimes wear or hold roses.

Image credit: Photo by Brigitte Tohm from Unsplash

Napijmy Się! Let’s Drink!(and Eat!)

Our night started with a toast of Frizzante for good luck with our future exams and to a good night. The Studniówka had begun!

Amongst getting to know some new people from another culture and fumbling for my translation sheet to attempt to say ‘Jak się masz?’ (‘How are you?’), I wandered over to the haven that was the snack table.

There were many artifacts I did not recognise including:

  • Paluszki – Little pretzel-like salted breadsticks. ‘Paluszki’ literally translates to ‘fingers’.
  • Jeżyki – Milk chocolate-coated biscuits with caramel and hazelnuts. ‘Jeżyki’ means ‘little hedgehogs’ and the biscuits resemble a hedgehog with their bumpy chocolate exterior.
  • Chrupki Ziemniaczane ‘potato crisps’ – My favourite were these little ghost-shaped crisps. Not dissimilar tasting from Pom-Bears.

(Admittedly, some Domino’s pizza may have sneaked into the polish snack selection!)

Image credit: Author – Polish ghost-shaped crisps

Safe to say I have already googled my nearest polish food shop.

Taking (many) vodka shots is also Polish tradition and culture. I think some attendees may have upheld this for the night, and I’m not sure how I got away with only doing 1 myself!

Zatańczmy! Let’s Dance!

Image Credit: Liverpool Universities Polish Society Committee (LGSM granted permission to use) – Preparing for the Polonaise!

Usually, all the students practise the famous Polonaise dance MONTHS prior to the Studniówka.

We had 15 minutes.

After a couple glasses of Frizante (not enough), we went straight into a practice routine and then performed the full Polonaise. It involved pairing up (boy-girl) and walking hand in hand. You walk to the beat, bending your knee on every third step. We paraded around the room, making human tunnels and dancing in circles.

Image Credit: Liverpool Universities Polish Society Committee (LGSM granted permission to use) – The Polonaise dance

The Polonaise was upbeat and fun, but my favourite dance by far was the Belgian dance. It’s a quicker routine and involves swapping partners (and even walking backwards at times!).

I don’t think it was just myself that made a few mistakes…

Na Zdrowie! Cheers to a Good Night!

Attending a Studniówka with Polish people was an amazing experience. I really forgot I was in The Guild’s Stanley Theatre – it felt more like Warsaw or Krakow!

Being immersed in Polish culture has just made me want to visit Poland more. I’d love to go, and hopefully in the near future!

@ the committee, you weren’t joking about being my own personal tour guides were you?

brown and green concrete building with lights turned on during night time
Image credit: Photo by Elijah G from Unplash

To join PolSoc and keep updated on events, follow them on:

     Instagram: @uolpolsoc

     Facebook: @liverpooluniversitypolishsociety

     Their Guild page: Polish Society @ Liverpool Guild of Students

Or contact them by:

     Email: polish@society.liverpoolguild.org

For more of what’s going on On Campus, have a read of LGSM’s latest articles.

Featured Image Credit: Liverpool Universities Polish Society Committee (LGSM granted permission to use)