This student organization oversaw campus dances for many years. The name comes from a style of formal social dancing in the nineteenth century called a "German cotillion" or simply "German." At Carolina throughout the first half of the twentieth century, the formal dances organized by the club were known as the "Germans."
UNC students were organizing formal dances as early as the 1830s, when they hosted a Commencement Ball. Dances were primarily organized by campus clubs. In 1923, following a dance that was, according to the Tar Heel, "characterized by excessive drinking and other loose conduct," students sought to provide more oversight of campus dances and charged the German Club with their management. At one point open to all students, the club was later composed of representatives from UNC's social fraternities.
The spring and fall Germans were major events in Carolina student life. They often featured prominent national acts, such as Woody Herman, Fats Domino, and Louis Armstrong (who performed on campus at least twice). The entertainment was not limited to musical acts —comedian Woody Allen performed at a German Club dance in 1965. By the late 1960s, as the student body grew larger and more diverse, fewer students attended the formal dances and they eventually ended. There was a brief revival of the German Club dances in the 1980s, but these lasted only for a few years.