Now that you know the benefits of having a virtual dance for your school, where do you even start? As I mentioned in my last post, it is so important that your virtual dance be extremely engaging and fun for the students. They have an endless number of things to do on their phones, so you need to really work to keep them engaged.
- Choose a date – If you previously had an in-person dance scheduled, I would suggest using that. If you don’t already have a date scheduled, I would choose a Saturday or Friday and pick a time in the evening. It is important that you are really simulating a dance experience and choosing a typical dance time helps. If you are just planning a virtual prom or dance for your school, I would suggest not having it be more than 2 hours. Because Virtual Prom Live was for students across the country, we were able to get engagement at different points of the night, but three hours still felt like a long time to be behind a screen.
- Find and acquire entertainment – What type of entertainment do you usually have at your dances, a DJ, a band? Many local DJs are struggling, COVID has had a tremendous impact on their business. By either charging a nominal amount for tickets or using already fundraised money, you can help support these DJs who for many months have been out of work. When choosing entertainment, it is CRITICAL that you find a DJ who has experience with live streaming. In-person DJing and live streaming are different animals that require technical experience and tools that not every DJ has. DJs who are experienced in live streaming also know how to engage an audience through a screen.
- Purchase or seek donations for giveaways – Every student loves some free stuff, so work with local or national businesses to get some cool stuff to give away. If your dance is for a specific club or for younger classmen, maybe offer some school swag. Or, if you have seniors get some gift cards to places like Target or Chipotle. Throughout each of our dances, we gave away 4-5 prizes throughout the night (ours was 3 hours). You also can get a crown or giveaway from homecoming or prom king and queen, which they can vote on throughout the night.
- Decide on a technology – Before deciding on a technology to stream with, you need to figure out a couple of logistics. Do you want students to be able to video chat? Do you have enough faculty to moderate the chats? Do you want to be able to delete chats, kick students out, keep it restricted? There are a lot of different technologies out there. For Virtual Prom Live we used Hopin, but you could also use Zoom, Google Hangouts, or Facebook. Because there are so many technologies, if you have more specific questions on organizing that piece, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Promote your dance and sell tickets – HYPE the dance up. You want the students to want to go for many of the reasons we shared in our last post. If you are hoping to raise some funds from this dance, you definitely want people to attend. Because more than likely you are not in school, you need a way to sell your tickets online, which is where My School Dance comes in. Even if you are in school, online ticket sales is a great way to socially distance sell tickets to your dance. For the foreseeable future, your students probably won’t be gathering at lunch in lines to buy tickets and turn forms in, so My School Dance will do all of this for you. If you’re not signed up, sign up today for 50% off processing fees. My School Dance is free for your school to use, so there’s no risk!
- Give your students clear instructions and fun ideas – To make sure that those students who purchase tickets actually attend and have fun, it is important to be very clear with instructions. Create a ‘How-To’ guide for joining the dance, and make sure that they understand what it will be like. You can make promotional materials online for free using Canva. In order to create a true dance experience, give the students fun ideas: decoration ideas, meal ideas with dates or family, outfit/hair/makeup ideas, activity ideas for before or after, just anything to make them feel like they are doing something more than just listening to a DJ on a computer screen.
- Rehearse – Because more than likely you’ve never done this before, you have to rehearse with all planning members involved: DJ, chaperones, volunteers, MCs, and anyone else who will appear onscreen. We recommend doing this a few days before to work out any kinks.
- DANCE – When it is time for the dance, let the magic happen. Engage students with polls, questions, voting, social media contests, giveaways, dance contests, decoration contests, dinner contests, dress contests, and whatever you can think of. I promise you that even though it is sort of a weird situation, your students will be so grateful that you took to the time out to provide them with a night of different fun.
I said it before, and I will say it here, a virtual dance will never replace an in-person dance, but at least it’s something. It’s unclear when school events will happen again, so providing students with some way to engage with classmates for a carefree night keeps them out of trouble, reduces boredom, and shows that you care about their wellbeing. If you have any questions or would like us to help you plan your first virtual homecoming, virtual prom, or virtual dance, please reach out at email@example.com.
If you missed the first blog post in this two-part series, you can check it out here: Planning Your Virtual School Dance