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Muggle Mayhem raises funds for charitable groups

Rutgers is not home to the Triwizard Tournament, and the fictional Weird Sisters band was absent for a night of magical rock n' roll. Despite this, Rutgers' Yule Ball was no less magical than the Yule Ball described in J.K. Rowling's "The Goblet of Fire" — but if anything, it was considerably more muggle-minded.

Muggles, or non-wizarding students, convened in the College Avenue Student Center's Multipurpose Room Sunday night for an evening of magic, music, desserts, activities and a chance to celebrate the end of the semester garbed in dresses and dress shirts. 

The Yule Ball, inspired directly by the Yule Ball in Rowling's fourth novel in the globally-acclaimed fantasy series, is a tradition of the Triwizard Tournament, an inter-school competition that challenges four highly-skilled student witches and wizards to best their way in a series of obstacles. 

During the ball in the series, students and professors alike attend the highly-anticipated event on Christmas night of a tournament year, and the tournament champions and their dates open the event during the Champion's Waltz. 

Muggle Mayhem, the Rutgers chapter of the Harry Potter Alliance, an international community service organization, was the orchestrating force behind the first annual Yule Ball at Rutgers.

Recommended monetary donations were gifted to Habitat for Humanity and Accio Books, an annual book drive run by the Harry Potter Alliance, said Sky Bolkin, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore and the treasurer of Muggle Mayhem. The term "Accio" is a summoning charm frequently used in the Harry Potter series. 

Messages and themes that the popular novels and acclaimed films taught are connected with the real world problems — and in this way, Bolkin thinks most students can relate to Harry Potter.

“One of our members, Richard, came up with the idea of hosting a Yule Ball, and I was like, 'Why not?'" Bolkin recalled. "We decided to do it and created the event page on Facebook and it blew up."

Like many of the ball's attendees, Bolkin said she is an "A-plus Harry Potter fan."

"My mom and sister read it to me every night when I was little," she said. "Actually, my mom is a bigger Harry Potter fan than I am, and I absolutely love Muggle Mayhem."

The venue was decorated with blue and silver balloons and with the four Hogwarts houses — Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Slytherin. 

"This space in the College Avenue Student Center is the perfect set-up,” Bolkin said. “Our members brought in stuff to help decorate the event. One of our members is making posters and some of us brought in fairy lights to help set up — the first year is always the hardest."

Every table was lined with events.

Bolkin said she saw some people play wizard's chess — in the series, the chess pieces listen to the player and can move themselves. 

Another game, one that was never a part of the wizarding world, but that is an ubiquitous part of college festivities, was Cards Against Humanity, which, as its website describes itself, is "a party game for horrible people."

"There (was) some trivia and definitely lots of dancing,” Bolkin said. “We want people to have a lot of fun and now they know who we are. This event is for a good cause and we hope to continue this."

Bolkin said the club hopes to host trivia and a midnight run to bring clothes and food to needy populations during the spring semester. 

Bolkin said Muggle Mayhem is also juggling the idea of hosting a House Cup, the biggest honor that can be bestowed to a Hogwarts house at the end of the school year. In the series, the house with the most points — amassed for excellent academic performance and student conduct — is awarded the cup, a reward that goes from house to house each year.

"Our members pick whichever house they want to be in, and the activities they do get them points,” Bolkin said.

Meenal Paul, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore, said she was very excited to attend her first Yule Ball.

“I have seven finals but my friend invited me for the event, and the idea of going to a Yule Ball fascinated me,” Paul said. “I am not a part of Muggle Mayhem, but (I am a) Harry Potter fan, and while watching 'Goblet of Fire' I imagined what it would be like to attend the Yule Ball. Harry takes a brown girl to the ball and I could imagine myself dancing with Harry Potter."

Paul found the décor beautiful and said the music and lighting was fitting.

"The event is for a good cause, and I am looking forward to dancing all night long," Paul said.

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