Guide to School Dance
Since the beginning in Lansing, MI, we have been doing many different events, we have compiled a little guide to help you with the planning your school dance to make the dance a success, but also for the school’s ability to raise funds.
Choosing a DJ for your School Dance
How Affordable is the DJ?
If you have been planning a dance for your school, you probably have noticed that you are getting a vast range of different quotes from different disc jockeys. To help explain the difference in pricing, let’s take a look at some of the costs of some typical weekend activities:
Video Movie Rental (Blockbuster™) $4.49
First Run Movie (AMC Cinema™ ) $11.00
Teen Dance Club $10-$20
Concert Ticket $25-$100+
There are many DJs that will do a school dance for $200 regardless of the type of dance you are having. However, if 250 students attend the dance, can that hired DJ service that costs as little as video rental for $4.49 return the best results for your school and make your dance successful and profitable? Let’s take a look.
Attendance at school dances varies from 50 to over 2000 depending on level and size of school. So for argument’s sake, let’s use a figure of 500 students for the following example.
You plan a fantastic dance for students and charge $6 per student netting you $1800. The DJ service cost only $200 ($.40/student) leaving you with $2800 profit excluding any decorations or refreshments. This is a wonderful little profit for the school. However, after the dance, you hear several complaints from students and administrators alike. Students weren’t really dancing, some lyrics were inappropriate, the music skipped, used home stereo equipment, and the DJ had to work off of only 1 cd player for the whole night because his other one broke the other night.
For the next dance, you decide to keep the same DJ because you got such a deal for the last one. You did talk to him about music content and other concerns. The night of the dance arrives and only 200 students show up. You net $1200 minus the $200 ($1/student) you paid the DJ and other related expenses. You feel the event was okay, but nothing special while noting you had 100 less students attend.
Word spreads quickly among the students the DJ didn’t play their requests and the music wasn’t good. The 200 students at the last dance declines more for the next dance until eventually they stop showing up and your school’s dances are cancelled.
So what happened? Many schools fall victim to the cheap DJ service that offers a less than adequate sound system, limited or unedited music library, poor light show (if any), inexperienced DJ, or someone who is “just doing it on the side.” As illustrated by the above example, hiring a cheap DJ service can have lasting effects on school dances. Not only can the dance be ruined, but also the fate of future dances. If the students weren’t happy at the dance, they may not attend future dances affecting the profit level.
You can actually keep the cost down with the more students that attend. Some area high schools have as many as 1000+ students attend their dance. For less than $2 a student (remember, half the cost of a video rental), you can bring a full club-style atmosphere into your gymnasium. Only have 100 students attend a dance? For less than half the cost of a movie rental at $5 per student, you can hire a professional, quality disc jockey service. How long would that movie entertain your typical teenager on a Friday or Saturday night? Certainly not for a non-stop, high-energy, interactive 3-4 hours.
How to Plan a Successful Prom or Homecoming
The biggest social event of most teens’ high school careers is the Prom. Indeed, the Prom has become so important over the years that it has become a mini-industry of its own.
With respect to planning, a typical Prom breaks down into the following areas.
The venue is by far the first thing you want to take care of. All other things flow from the choice of venue. You cannot set the date, hire entertainment, hire security, or plan a budget until your venue is set.
A good rule of thumb is to start looking at your possible venue choices as early as possible, and no later than at the end of September before your spring Prom. Early planners will usually get the dates they want, while Prom committees that start the planning process later in the year usually have to juggle their schedule to accommodate the venue they want or stick to their date choice and settle for a venue of lesser caliber. Looking at venues even a year ahead of time is not inappropriate, especially in areas where there is competition for the best sites.
The décor choices you make have only one major limiting factor: finances. If your budget allows you to create a virtual movie studio, then by all means go for it. If your budget is more limited, then you must figure out what part of your budget you can spend on decorations and make sure you do not exceed this amount.
Food is usually tied to the venue, in that almost all hotels and banquet halls have either an in-house catering department or a preferred list of caterers. As with décor, your limitations are primarily financial, with special consideration being given to nutritional concerns. Use your free school resources-your school district will usually have someone on staff who is knowledgeable about dietary issues and can advise you on subjects such as vegetarian meals or special dietary restrictions that some students may have. Your main decision about food will be whether to have a sit-down dinner, a buffet-style dinner, or just serve appetizers and desserts. Local custom usually dictates your choice in this area. In areas where most people favor restaurant dining before the Prom, it doesn’t make sense to spend the money to serve dinner.
Entertainment – Very Important!
The subject of entertainment is greatly misunderstood when it comes to budgetary planning. The mistake some groups make is to blow their budget on the venue, décor, and food, and not have enough left for quality entertainment. This is the biggest mistake that a Prom committee can make, as the choice of entertainment will determine the quality of the evening.
If your Prom DJ is great, people will say they had a great time. If the entertainment is bad, your teens will remember the event as a tet down. I’ve never seen an event with good food and bad entertainment that was considered a great time. The trick is to find a DJ company that specializes in high-end events – such as your prom. Although interesting, chances are you wouldn’t hire “McDonalds” to cater your prom. You would leave that to an experienced caterer. You should pick your entertainment the same way. Find an experienced DJ company that will provide you with the world-class prom entertainment that you require. Don’t settle for less when you deserve the best.
In the last two decades, schools have begun to run after-Prom parties, where all Prom-goers are locked into the school building or other community building for the evening to enjoy a variety of activities such as dancing, casino-type games, movie rooms, fortune tellers, caricature artists, breakfast, and raffle-type events.
Some sort of a security team is always a good idea at your Prom. My best recommendation is for your group to start asking parents early for a good team of chaperons to rotate throughout the night and even have your schools local Police Resource Officer be present. A good show of force will eliminate a lot of the problems before they even start, and for those problems that still occur, the officer will be there to solve them.
The major overriding concern of every planning decision you make will be whether you can afford to do it. After fundraising efforts by your class, the major source of revenue for Prom expenses is your ticket sales. When making decisions about cost, you need to decide whether or not the incremental increase in the price of the ticket is worth the expense.
For example, let’s say you have 500 people coming to your Prom. You have a choice of an okay DJ company for $200 for the night with little or no lighting and no special effects like lasers, smoke and concert style lighting or an amazing DJ company with all the above for $1,500. Your incremental ticket price for the okay company is $200/500 = $0.40 per ticket, and for the amazing DJ company it would be $1,500/500 = $3.00 per ticket or at $10.00 per ticket, the profit not including the venue or catering about be $3,500. Base your decision on whether the increase from one cost per ticket to the next is the best decision for your group.