Gala mores: an introduction to student lifestyle

| Natasja Schaafsma

2020 is promised to be a special and festive year on campus. Multiple (study) associations have a lustrum year, which is commonly celebrated with a lustrum gala. Etiquette is important, so you should refresh your memory of the gala mores, the unwritten rules. Be aware: the roles are reversed in a leap year.

Step one: finding a date

Firstly, it is important to find a date. It is unheard of to arrive at a gala without a companion. You might have a partner whom you can flatter by asking him/her to join you. If you do not have an other half, you might consider asking out that charming person you have had an eye on for years. Make haste, as they might be won over by someone else. This seems to be of great trouble with girls in Enschede, as we have very little of this kind. When you are a guy, you are expected to find a date. Are you a girl? That’s a bummer, you should wait until a guy asks you out.

Step two: writing a letter

Now you have found your perfect match, it is time to send them a letter. The man is expected to start this handwritten correspondence. They should write on how they think the receiver of this letter is a perfect match for them and how they could not go without them to the gala. Most of the letter should be about flattering them, only at the end of the letter you ask them out to the gala. The letter should be written with a silver pen on blue paper.

So now imagine you are the woman, receiving the blue letter. It does not matter whether you actually liked the letter or not. You are expected to write a response. This response is written with a golden pen on pink paper. In this letter, you write how flattered you are to receive such an invitation. You might add some nice words about them as well, do as you like. Maybe there is nothing nice to say about them, in this case, it is advised to stay neutral. To close the letter you have to ask them out on a tea date.

Step three: the tea date

As the girl has invited the guy on a tea date, she should make the arrangements. This means she will make sure there is tea, as well as an additional bite. To decide on what kind of bite to add, she has to think about this guy. Does she want to bring him to the gala?

  • Yes, I dearly love him! He’s like a brother to me!

In this case, you should make this clear to him. You will go with him to the gala but as friends. Add a biscuit to his tea.

  • Yes, I am so excited! And I will buy breakfast for two just in case…

Great! You are very willing to go with him to the gala and depending on the evening will have a galamos. Besides giving him tea, you serve him a cake as well.

  • Yes, I will join him to the gala, and have already booked an appointment at the GGD afterwards!

Wow, if it is up to you there will be some bedroom action after the gala. Make sure to serve him whipped cream with his cake so he knows to expect the same.

  • Well… I have a date already.

He will be disappointed, but he should know. You will only give him tea. No biscuits or cake will be added.

Step four: corsage

Great, she wants to attend the dance with you. It does not matter if you are going all the way, or if she is just a klemdate, you will need to make her a corsage. In the traditional sense, this is a pinned up flower. The student tradition, in contrast, is to make a pin out of a small toy or material that symbolises your bond. Do you watch Netflix together a lot? Make here a nice logo. Is she really pretty? Pinup a small mirror. It is of great importance that this corsage matches with her dress. Since it is not allowed to talk about the gala on the tea date, she has shown her dress colour to you in a subtle manner. Maybe she had put a flower on the table in the colour of her dress, or she might have had the tip of her dress hanging out of the closet for you to see.

Step five: end note

The man picks up the woman from her house (read: student room) and drives her to the gala (read: they cycle together, this is still the Netherlands). They will arrive at the gala together and will make sure to have a wonderful night. This, assuming they did all preparations according to the Mores and are dressed to the dress code. There are only a few rules left to be dealt with at the gala itself. He will let her walk first everywhere they go – except for stairs, especially if the dress code allowed her to wear a short dress. If the man wants to ask the woman to go for a dance, he makes a slight nod. And make sure not to wear a watch! As the well-known Dutch student saying goes: gezelligheid kent geen tijd.


  • Mores = unwritten rules
  • Lustrum = celebrating a period of 5 years
  • Galamos = sex after gala, with or without gala clothing still on
  • Klemdate = you go together as friends, but mainly to get hammered
  • Blue/pink paper = this should be high-quality paper. A good place to get this is Bertus Workel in the city centre
  • GGD = health centre to get an STD test


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