Sadies by any other name still tough to sell

March 24, 2017 — by Eileen Toh

“Buy your Sadies tickets now!” former head dance commissioner senior Danielle Berkowitz-Sklar and I hollered around the quad, visiting the various cliques to reel them into purchasing tickets.

We had just posted on the Sadies’ Facebook event nights prior that we were “almost at the 100 ticket minimum” for the dance to run, but students were still not moved at the mere mention of tickets costing $10 — a price that didn’t match one of the least popular dances on campus.

Ever since I joined the Spring Fling commission in sophomore year, planning the annual Sadie Hawkin’s dance that kicked off Spring Fling week has always been a struggle. In 2014, the dance was cancelled, and even though it returned the next year, ASB and commissioners purchased multiple tickets to boost up sales.

When I became head Spring Fling commissioner in junior year, I learned that the dance was taken off the activities calendar. But when Danielle and I persuaded the administration to hold the dance, we were told we had to meet a 100-ticket minimum a week before the dance.

Despite our coordinated dress-up days for promotion and Facebook posts, we forced our friends from the lunch tables to buy tickets even if they could not attend and talked with physics teacher Kirk Davis, who joked that he would offer extra credit to his students if they bought tickets.

Now as ASB head commissioner, when I met with the dance and Spring Fling commissioners in January, they decided to change the event’s name from “Sadies” to “Spring Fling Dance” to make it more obvious that attendees didn’t require dates. Instead, the Spring Fling Dance was publicized as a “second version of Homecoming,” the most attended casual dance of the year.

However, on March 17, a week before the dance, the commissioners only managed to sell 29 tickets. It became clear to us that changing the event’s name to have a “no date required” connotation didn’t produce the success we expected.

Simply put, even though organizing Sadies has been a priority of mine and has had sentimental value all throughout high school, I can still see reasons the springtime dance remains unpopular. At first glance, girls traditionally ask guys to the dance, which can seem frightening to students, especially underclassmen.

But even though we made it apparent that attendees can go with their friends, several students still seemed unwilling to go last year.

According to assistant principal Kerry Mohnike, Sadies has consistently been scheduled three weeks before junior prom in recent years. As a result, this year’s dance promotions have become overshadowed by junior prom posts. Most upperclassmen prioritize going to the extravagant off-campus formal dance instead; as early as in February, prom drama is in the air, but Spring Fling Dance talk isn’t.

Ultimately, the dance’s name change hasn’t been as convincing as we had hoped. While we managed to break the false perception Sadies had as a date-only dance, Spring Fling is much the same: We’re still holding the dance in the Small Gym, still using student-made decorations and still pumping everyone up for the week of spirit days and Powderpuff games ahead.

As I learned from the dances I organized, most students decide to attend these dances at the last-minute. For example, Homecoming ticket sales mainly come from the students who buy at the door, and Spring Fling is no exception. For us, forking over $12 at the door is more convenient than paying beforehand.

However, according to past dance attendance statistics, Sadies was once extremely popular. In 2008, for example, the dance hosted up to 281 students, and four years ago, this number was still an impressive 246 — far greater than the number of attendees we’ve had in the past two Sadies dances.

Unless new ideas are more successful and this low attendance improves, the administration will be justified in canceling it permanently. Now that would be a far cry from Homecoming 2.0.

 

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