Originally published Oct. 11, 2012 at The Daily Princetonian.
As part of an effort to cut costs and suit students’ preferences, this year’s Orange and Black Ball will feature a cover band and a DJ instead of a headlining act.
The decision was one of a number of tweaks the planning committee made to bring down costs and ensure the long-term financial sustainability of the Ball. New York-based cover band The A-List will be performing, along with DJ Lil’ Boy, who works with hip-hop artist T-Pain. The event will remain free for students, but guests will be required to pay $20 each to attend.
Members of the planning committee said making the event cheaper has been the committee’s number one goal throughout the planning process. Senior class president Zach Beecher ’13 and senior class vice president Stefan Kende ’13 said they are confident the Ball will cost significantly less than last year’s event, which totaled $75,000 and was funded by the class governments, the Alcohol Initiative and the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students. Beecher and Kende declined at this time to say specifically how much this year’s event will cost.
“We’re way more effective with each dollar,” Kende said, who along with Beecher returned from last year’s committee to plan the event again. “We’re using half as much money as we needed from the Alcohol Initiative last year, and we’re weaning off the amount of money we need from Nassau Hall.”
Because the Alcohol Initiative put $20,000 toward the cost of last year’s Ball, it was not able to fund some requests it received from student organizations later in the year. These organizations were then directed to the USG’s Projects Board, which received and declined more requests than usual last year.
A large part of the cost-streamlining effort was the decision not to pursue a big-name musical act, according to Kende and Beecher. Last year, junior class secretary Mary D’Onofrio ’14 wrote in a guest column for The Daily Princetonian that headlining act Super Mash Bros. cost $20,000 alone.
That investment was warranted, D’Onofrio wrote in the column, because the inaugural run of the Ball required a big-name musical act to draw a crowd. But this year, without the need for a top attraction, the committee has opted to save money.
“This year, students already know what the Ball’s about,” Kende said. “We already have that buy-in, so we don’t have to spend money on getting people interested.”
Planning committee member and sophomore class treasurer Cordelia Orillac ’15, who worked on securing a musical act this summer, said the decision to move from a headlining act to a cover band-DJ combination was made with student preferences in mind. Feedback from last year’s ball indicated students were less interested in a headlining act and more interested in hearing music they recognized.
“It’s going to be a different musical vibe,” Orillac said. “It’s going to be popular music, stuff people can dance to.”
Kende added that he did not think people were coming to the Ball for the band. “It’s not Lawnparties,” he said.
In addition, logistical changes have been made to improve crowd flow throughout the venue. Coat check has been moved upstairs to the Group Fitness Room and the Multipurpose Room, instead of the lower-level locker rooms used last year. The stage will be shifted to the rear of the gymnasium floor, provided the women’s volleyball match scheduled right before the event finishes in time to set up.
The Class of 2013 will host a class-funded wine, champagne and beer reception for seniors only at the Princeton University Art Museum from 9 to 11 p.m. prior to the start of the Ball. This year’s event has been scheduled a month earlier than last year’s to coincide with Homecoming weekend.
While the event model has been added to and tweaked, much of the look and feel of the Ball will stay the same, Beecher says.
“Our goal is to make sure it wasn’t just a spark,” Beecher, who heads this year’s planning committee, said. “We want to really work on turning it into a tradition, but we also want to hold an event that people will want to take part in.”
Beecher and Kende said that despite their long-term goals of keeping the event financially independent and sustainable, they will fight hard to keep the event free for students.
“The concept of having students pay runs contrary to the vision of what the Ball should be,” Beecher said. “All you need to come to the Ball is to be a Princeton student, there are no passes or connections required. It’s as easy as going to Frist [Campus Center] to get a ticket.”
Tickets were running out rapidly as of Tuesday night, Kende said, and more guests had signed up than the committee had anticipated.
“We’re selling out faster than last year,” Kende noted. “It’s higher volume than we’d thought, for both students and guests.”