Homecoming swindles students with lackluster experience

Students+standing+around+at+the+2021+outdoor+Homecoming+dance.+The+event+was+held+in+the+school+parking+lot+due+to+COVID-19+restrictions%2C+which+resulted+in+a+far+more+lackluster+experience+than+previous+years.

Photo courtesy of Robbie Kugler

Students standing around at the 2021 outdoor Homecoming dance. The event was held in the school parking lot due to COVID-19 restrictions, which resulted in a far more lackluster experience than previous years.

Students finally got to experience their first Homecoming dance in two years, but $20 tickets are a pretty steep price to pay when the dancing is limited to the school parking lot. Despite the drastic change in venue, the financial arrangement remains the same as before the pandemic, and once again begs the question: what is your money actually paying for?

According to the administration, ticket sales went directly towards expenses associated with the event, and there were more of them than usual this year since every piece of equipment had to be rented. The list of given expenses includes the tent rentals, permits, music, the DJ, snacks, drinks, photo booths, and of course, the police coverage.

Now, given the circumstances, it’s hard to argue the administration could have done more to make the night more enjoyable. The dance couldn’t be held inside because of COVID-19 guidelines, so it was subsequently moved outside. The snacks couldn’t be shared, so they provided individual, prepackaged goods instead. The music was all there, the photo booths were up and running, and pretty much every element that is normally part of the dance was still in place.

That being said, the dance was definitely not organized in the most aesthetically pleasing fashion. The parking lot was sectioned off at doors three and seven, and, within that segment of the lot, three white tents were set up directly alongside the sidewalk. Two of the tents housed the photo booths, while the central tent housed the DJ and acted as the de facto dancing area. The snack line, as well as a row of plain rectangular tables, were placed parallel to the tents. That still left a tremendous amount of dead space, as the stadium side of the parking lot was completely barren.

Ironically enough, moving the dance outside, which was intended to limit the spread of COVID-19, only ended up increasing the close contact of students. Although attendees were allowed to dance anywhere within the allotted section of the parking lot, the tent’s specific placement and its proximity to the music made for an experience far closer to a mosh pit than a formal ball. The gym, being an indoor, contained venue, has acoustics that would allow for the music to be heard fairly evenly from any spot. The outdoor parking lot does not, which meant that any student who wanted to actually hear the music when they danced needed to squeeze under the one tent and try not to touch too many other people.

So, if shimmying around under a white tent in the middle of a claustrophobic swarm of unwashed, sweaty bodies sounds like your kind of night, then perhaps Homecoming was a thrill and a half. The majority of people in attendance, however, were hanging around outside the tent, aimlessly milling about, talking with friends, maybe stopping to take a photo, or having some snacks. Homecoming is just as much a social function as it is an actual dance, and a simple change in venue won’t easily change that. 

Nonetheless, the transition outside definitely killed a lot of the excitement, and whatever was left was awkwardly shoved under a tent. For students, the only two options were to be a part of a mosh pit or wander around a sullen, lifeless parking lot. Either way, the Homecoming dance was not worth the price of admission this year.