The State of our Victorian Balls in 2015

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A little history…

We’ve been blessed with 6 beautiful Gaskell Victorian Balls every year since I started dancing, oh so many years ago (really, a lot of them).

Recently, they haven’t been pulling in the numbers, and are now throwing a single Ball every year in the autumn (Halloween).

I (and hopefully others) don’t want to accept this, so I started my own Victorian Balls, very much in the spirit of the Gaskell Balls, compromising to a Seasonal baseline: With the Gaskell Ball still happening in the Autumn, I threw a Victorian Ball in the Spring, Summer, and Winter.

My intention is absolutely not to compete with the Gaskell Ball, and I’d be very happy to bow out if they went back to throwing a handful of Balls every year.

So here’s how that’s worked out.

I’m going to generalize some numbers where it’s not proper for me to expose contract specifics.

I try to keep my Guest List as small as possible, because these do take a considerable amount of time & money to produce, and if I started adding friends to the Guest List, the list would grow without end.

My Guest List currently includes The Band, The Gaskells Committee (which I feel is the respectable thing to do), and our Volunteers. After a year of doing this, we’ve gotten “streamlined” to 5 door volunteers and 2 on snacks/drinks. I’d prefer another volunteer assisting me running the event, and 1-2 teachers for the dance lesson before the Ball, but we haven’t done that consistently.

That might sound like a lot (at least it does to me), but we’ve tried less and it really doesn’t work out well. I don’t add any volunteers for Band Liaison (though I’m sure they’d love it if we did), Setup, and Cleanup.

I’ve settled into charging $20 in advance or $25 at the door, a rate I’d really prefer not to change.

A common question is if I’d prefer a ticket bought in advance (of which the event gets $19) or waiting and paying $25 at the door. The answer is always that I’d prefer advance sales, and I’m pretty sure other events agree. We use advance sales to gauge interest, make event purchases, and I’m able to have less of a large amount of money in “Ball escrow”.

Our “Rite of Spring” Ball had 101 (paid) guests, Midsummer had 96, and our recent Holiday Ball had 108.

My “large bills” are essentially $2000 for the band & venue, and another $200 in “soft costs”: food&drink, flyers, etc.

This works out to a “break even” number of about 110 paid guests. As you can see, we’ve never quite hit that.

I’m hoping that the additional promotion afforded by owning OverAttired Vintage Fashion, as well as additional promotion my shop gets by “producing” the Ball will help offset these expenses.

Do I start rolling in money for every guest after 110? No. My costs on a few things go up as my attendance goes up. And this would be a nice problem to have, given the current state.

I can’t speak to other events, but from what I’ve heard (directly), things are about the same (or worse) for everyone involved in Event Production. You can take this as a gentle reminder to thank your favorite Event Producer next time you see them. In addition to money, most of us pour countless hours of effort into these that are never compensated. Please don’t take that as a complaint, it’s just how it is. Nobody is walking away with handfuls of money. Nobody.

Compliments and Suggestions are always appreciated.

I’m not currently interested in a price hike, a venue change to a worse (or more expensive) venue, or changing the band.

I have every intention of producing three more Balls in 2016, though all are currently unscheduled (the Spring Ball will be in March or April, but I really just haven’t gotten that far yet).

I also produce a lot of fun events at OverAttired Vintage Fashion! Coming soon we have a Boxing Day Holiday Party & Sale on 12/26, and our Grand Opening Celebration on 1/30!

To everyone who came to the three Balls I produced this year: THANK YOU. It means so much to me that we get to do this wonderful thing.

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