DJ, Music / Photographers / Food / Ticket Sales
L O C A T I O N
Most casual school dances are held in school gyms. If you don't have a gym, and need to find a facility off-campus, local YMCAs, Elk's Lodges, or Community Centers may be willing to allow your school to use their facility for a nominal charge. But most high schools have a gym which can be used for dances. There are often two problems in using a gym, the first of which is scheduling. Your sports teams will probably be using the gym for practice every day; so the time needed for decorating the gym for the dance, and the dance itself may conflict with their schedules. Be diligent about communicating with everyone involved, and this can usually be worked out. The second issue of concern in a gym is the floor. Hundreds of students dancing on it in street shoes can ruin the finish. Just be sure that your gym floor is either protected by some kind of a tarp, or the floor isn't an issue.
S E C U R I T Y
It is imperative that you have adequate security for your dance. You are responsible for the safety of your students. You or an Assistant Principal should direct the security. Your security should include three groups. The first group would be your city's police department. Local police departments will usually allow you to hire off-duty policemen for this type of assignment. You will have to pay them their going rate, but their presence is a visible signal to any potential troublemakers that you are prepared. Their assignment would most likely be to patrol outside the gym, around your campus, and in your parking lots. Often the most trouble at a school dance takes place outside the gym or in the parking lots. The second group of security people would be part of your Dean's office, or whoever handles safety issues on your campus. Most schools now include campus security. Campus security supervisors
should be at the dance. They would patrol outside the gym, inside the dance itself, the bathrooms, and stop any problems at the doors. If you do not have any school security supervisors, you could hire a private security company, which is usually a lot cheaper than the police department, for the second part of your security staff. The third aspect of your security force should be any administrators or teachers attending the event. They can be very helpful because they are more likely to know students. Anonymity often allows students to do things they wouldn't normally do. If a teacher or administrator knows them, they tend to behave in a more appropriate manner. Thus the teachers and administrators should be inside the dance and supervise any activities there. All of these groups must act in concert, and they must be able to communicate with each other in a rapid and efficient manner. Radios are absolutely crucial for communication. If your school doesn't have radios for communication purposes, get them as soon as possible.
C H A P E R O N E S
Chaperones can usually be provided by your PTA. These chaperones perform several functions. They can sell tickets at the doors, provide coat-check services, help serve food if needed, and also provide a little more supervision of students. Their participation in security should not be formal, but any adults present at the dance who know the students are helpful. Let your PTA know months in advance, what the schedule is for your dances and how many chaperones will be needed. These people are volunteers, and may need a lot of notice to allow them to make their plans.
D E C O R A T I O N S
Let your student dance committee handle arrangements for decorations. They will need to have a cost-budget. Give them a dollar amount of how much they can spend. They can make the decisions as to where the money will be spent, as long as they check with you for a final OK. They will need to make arrangements to buy and transport materials for decorating. (Helium tanks are often used, and care must be taken when transporting them.) The committee must also plan and arrange for a time to decorate the gym, and clean up afterward. The students are usually enthusiastic about the decorations so this will probably be easily managed.
D J , M U S I C
I would recommend having some type of standard contract with the DJ. This eliminates any type of misunderstandings as to your expectations and payment agreement. Allow plenty of time for these arrangements. Get a DJ at least one month prior to your event. Let the students do the legwork for you in finding a pool of candidates for DJ's. They are usually very aware of DJ's available in the area. After the students have narrowed the selection process to two or three potential DJ's, you can then check references. The references that will be most helpful are those of other schools. School dances have different needs than private parties or other events. This way you can check about things that concern you as your school's representative. Some of these things might be; if they arrived on time; if they were courteous to students; whether or not they have sufficient equipment for a gym; how may helpers they needed; if they conducted themselves in an appropriate manner; or if they always cooperated with administrators at the dance itself. A bad DJ can ruin a dance, so take the time necessary to make a well-informed choice.
P H O T O G R A P H E R S
Most schools have a contract with a particular photographer to take couple and group photographs at their dances. Talk to your photographer well in advance to allow for adequate coverage for pictures. Some schools have students that like a lot of pictures taken at every dance, while others don't. Try to find out what the needs have been in the past at your school, and use that information to help your photographer. If you are not pre-selling tickets, give your best estimate as to how many students will be attending your dance. If students have to wait in line for pictures, they cannot enjoy the dance itself. You need to make arrangements so enough photographers fill the needs of your students. Most photographers will allow the dance committee to choose the background that will be used in the pictures. Most students enjoy the task, so let them do it. You should also be making a small commission on the photographs taken, but that would be covered in your contract with the photography studio. This is a lot of fun for most students. They like having pictures from the dances. Take the time necessary to assure this aspect of your dance runs smoothly.
F O O D
Most casual dances do not include refreshments, but if a club on campus would like to sell sodas or food as a fundraiser, you may want to consider it. They could also sell flowers, or something in keeping with your theme (if you have one) for the dance. For example, if the dance is a Sadie Hawkins dance, you could sell marriage certificates. This aspect of the dance is purely extra. If it makes things more fun for the kids, then go ahead and do it, but don't if it makes things too difficult for you.
T I C K E T S S A L E S
There are two ways of handlingticket sales. You can sell pre-sale during the school day, or just sell tickets at the door. Either method works well. Choose which one is best for your particular situation. Most schools also charge differently for tickets, depending on whether students have an ASB card or not. This would be another incentive for buying an ASB card at the beginning of the year.