ASB hosted its Gatsby-themed dance at the Bristol Hotel on Feb. 21 after weeks of careful planning. Dressed in 1920s attire, 230 students came to the “Gatsby Gala” to enjoy live jazz music, food and a photobooth.
The idea for the event originated in last semester’s ASB cabinet meeting and stemmed from the discussion about last year’s masquerade ball.
“We wanted to do a formal dance but didn’t want to do it on the boat again because of the capacity limitations and costs,” said Kristi South, ASB director of activities, in an email.
The theme of the event was a deciding factor in choosing location as well. ASB Event Coordinator, Emily Sauer began researching possible off-campus locations over Christmas break. This was her first time working on an off-campus event, and it was her idea to use a hotel ballroom.
“Once we decided to do it based on “The Great Gatsby,” it just made more sense to do it in a hotel,” said Sauer.
Sauer and South wanted to make sure that they had a great location but also wanted the cost to be affordable for students.
“We thought about doing another boat event again but that cost students $30 and we wanted it to be cheaper than that,” said Sauer.
The cost for The Gatsby Gala was $10 per student including transportation to and from the hotel; this can be compared to the $15 parking fees in downtown San Diego, where the hotel is located.
The response to the advertisements was quick, with tickets selling out in only a few days. Sauer expressed regret that they couldn’t accommodate everyone who wanted to go, but was excited about the students’ reaction. The limited tickets available were due to health and safety codes, but the hotel did allow for 100 more people than last year’s masquerade.
“The hotel is an old-time building with strict maximum capacity regulations. We wanted as many students as possible to go, but needed to obey fire code laws to not get fined,” said Sauer.
Two hundred tickets were reserved for student sales while another 30 were kept for ASB cabinet members, swing dancers, and the live jazz band.
The coordinators originally wanted the PLNU jazz band to play for the event, but they had a prior commitment. Instead, the planners opted to go with a local band.
“This ended up being a really fun part of the planning process because we all got to watch bands auditions together and then pick our favorite,” said Sauer.
Students danced while seeing views of downtown San Diego and the harbor through floor to ceiling windows on the ninth floor of the hotel. Complete with a retractable ceiling, the Starlight Room is the only event facility in San Diego with these features, according to the hotel’s homepage.
Sauer particularly wanted the event to be different from the other school-sponsored dances in the past.
“I want it to have the feeling of a really cool party, with everyone dancing all together, in a way that doesn’t have to be elaborate,” Sauer said.
Students gave mixed reviews about the dance, preferring some aspects of the gala to others.
“The venue was awesome, especially the moving ceiling,” said sophomore, Trisha Maatubang. “I would say more people than not dressed up for the theme, which was fun. However, the music wasn’t my favorite because it switched back and forth between jazz and popular songs.”