Bengal Ball was a University Union sponsored event held each April at the Y Beach across Lake Hartwell from campus, beginning in 1973. Advertised in some years as a "celebration of the sun", it was essentially the Gamma Delta Iota (GDI - "god damn independent") counterpart of Greek Week and Dixie Day held in mid-April by the fraternities and sororities of Clemson.
For a fixed price of admission, some four thousand students would gather on the beach to hear live music, throw disc, and partake of food and cold beverages. Regional acts performed on a flatbed trailer stage on the shore of the lake. Other events included the naming of a King and Queen of the festival, voted by acclamation. In many years, the Dixie Skydivers would jump in. Beer distributors would call in all their available tap trucks from the Upstate in order to quench the thirst of the merry crowd. The smoking of dope on the beach was not a wise idea as the Pickens County narc squad was known to circulate through the gathering.
A minor flap occurs in 1978 when the official tee-shirt logo stating "I was Bengal Balled" is deemed too risque for the Union to sell, being replaced by tamer version that reads "Bengal Ball '78". The three hundred shirt run of the original design are sold on the black market anyway, and prove a highly sought-after commodity. The artwork on this shirt was reproduced from the cover of Warner Bros. Records Loss-Leader double l.p. "All Singing-All Talking-All Rocking", (PRO-573), released in 1973, and sold by mail for $2.
In 1982, Bengal Ball was hit with a heavy thunderstorm in mid-event, but generally good weather favored the annual party.
Bengal Ball was discontinued sometime in the late 1980's, as national attitudes about appropriate student entertainment involving what were essentially beer busts shifted towards "Just say no".