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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

Staff editorial: Why holding Winter Formal at Dave and Buster’s this year was a bust

Leyna Chan
Winter Formal at Dave and Buster’s was not the move.

Picture this: You are in a tight formal dress and uncomfortable heels, enclosed in a stuffy arcade smelling vaguely of oily finger food and beer, all while navigating through hundreds of sweaty students to make your way to the dance floor from the dinner buffet. Later, you also rub shoulders with random members of the general public as you head out to play billiards and pinball.

 That was the scenario that kept dozens of students (including me) from attending this year’s winter formal that occurred on Dec. 2 at Dave and Buster’s in Milpitas (or as we like to call it, adult Chuck E-Cheese).

With formal ticket prices ranging from $84 to $114 to cover food, arcade games and the event itself depending on how early you bought them and whether you have ASB, the price was lower than most years but still too unappealing to outweigh the negatives of the venue choice for many students.

As evidence: A total of 493 tickets were sold this year in comparison to last year’s 664 tickets. The Dance Commission urged students to buy tickets during the last week of sales and even announced on Instagram that Winter Formal would be held at SHS the following year if they didn’t sell enough of them. 

For the past three years (including this one), the Dance Commission has held activity-based formals at amusement parks and theme parks, aiming to interest students who want to attend a formal dance but don’t necessarily want to dance. 

We really wish they didn’t. Winter Formal is supposed to be a dance — that’s the whole point of the event. Trying to appeal to all students is commendable, but choosing Dave and Buster’s as the venue was going too far.

We will concede, however, that for the past two years, the Dance Commission’s activity-based venues have been superior to the ones chosen by most other schools. 

Hundreds of us had a great time at the 2021 Winter Formal at Gilroy Gardens, as the venue was gorgeous and the limited number of rides students were provided was just enough for me to enjoy both the dance and activities the venue offered. And even though students’ experience at the 2022 formal at Great America was dampened because the rides part of the venue was rained out, the idea of going on rides and on the dance floor would have definitely been fun nonetheless. 

By contrast, the problem with Dave and Buster’s is that it’s a better spot for an informal birthday party or a spontaneous outing with friends. In other words, any venue that has a selling point of “all you can eat wings after 4 p.m Mondays through Thursdays” should NEVER be considered as an appropriate venue for a formal dance.

Not to mention, while the event was semi-private with rooms for dancing and pool tables reserved for students, the arcade was still open to the public. Just imagining walking around in a formal dress surrounded by children and their families wearing jeans and T-shirts. That prospect didn’t exactly sound inviting to all those who chose not to go. Honestly, it sounded like hell. And even though the dance floor was private, numerous social media stories about formal showed that Fox News was playing on the TV in the background of One Direction and various songs, leaving us to believe that we made the right decision to stay home.

However, for a while, we seriously considered the idea of actually attending formal. On one hand, we realize we only have the chance to attend four Winter Formals in high school and it is a rare opportunity — good or bad. But considering the unappealing venue choice and the high ticket prices, a large number of my friends and we decided it was not worth it. 

As upperclassmen, our friends and we would rather save our money for prom — which we know will be more expensive and probably worth the splurge — and skip out on Dave and Buster’s. 

We feel as though they wouldn’t have run into this problem in the first place if the venue was a classier, better choice; we would have gladly paid the ticket price and even a bit more this year for the right kind of location.

By right location, we mean a hotel ballroom or banquet hall, or even the Montalvo Arts Center located just 10 minutes away from the school. Montalvo’s picturesque backdrops would have been gorgeous for pictures and the inside of the building is perfect for dinner and dancing. Hakone Gardens and the Tech Interactive Museum would have also been stronger alternatives. 

Instead of threatening to have formal at SHS the next year to push people to buy tickets, the Dance Commission and administration should have picked a venue that wasn’t so activity-focused — maybe even putting out a poll for potential venue recommendations — so that more students would actually be sure to pay the money to attend formal.

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