Is Winter Ball Too Expensive?


December 11th, 2021. The day of the Winter Ball. Lakeside’s very own fieldhouse, normally filled with the sounds of students chatting or playing sports, was pitch-black, save for the many multicolor strobe lights placed around the sides of the room. There was the usual teeming mass of people that crowded around the room’s center, the usual gritty pop music, and the usual…snack table? Oh. Nevermind. From the outside, it looked like what one would expect in a classic high school dance from a movie—if you looked at a very, very flattering photo. The reality, unfortunately, was less pleasing (for more on this check out Lael G ’25 and Rohan D ’25’s article on Winter Ball Expectations vs. Reality). For many students looking back on that night—especially those for whom it was their first high school dance—the fun of the moment gave way to regret over spending 35 dollars for the entrance fee. Thus arises the question: was it worth it?

Traditionally, Winter Ball has been organized by the juniors to fundraise for their senior prom. According to various seniors, Winter Ball’s admission costs in recent years were less than $35. While it’s understandable that COVID regulations might have impacted the cost of this year’s Winter Ball, parts of it are still a bit of a letdown. One anonymous student commented that “the atmosphere wasn’t great” and “the decorations and music were sub-par” in light of the cost. The speakers also dampened peoples’ moods, blasting music at a loud, overwhelming volume that made it near-impossible to tell what songs were playing. The volume also made it difficult to communicate with friends or acquaintances. “35 dollars can buy a very nice meal for one at a fancy restaurant,” an anonymous student said. “If I pay 35 bucks for a party, I expect the speakers to work and for the music selection to represent a wider audience.” While dances are a nice way to connect with friends and socialize, paying over thirty dollars for just that chance to socialize doesn’t seem quite worth it. 

Whether or not the dance itself was actually worth it really depends on the person.

There were even students who chose not to attend the dance due to its cost, including one of the authors of this article. For students who are ambivalent about attending school dances, a cost of thirty-something dollars for an experience not guaranteed to be fun isn’t an attractive prospect. Especially considering that dances at Lakeside Middle School were free, it’s strange that the difference in cost is so great between the middle school and the upper school. One student expressed confusion over why there existed a cost in the first place. The student had the impression that “if Lakeside were to encourage socializing and interacting with peers, putting a pay wall in front of it sends a harmful message that socializing is a privilege.” Another student said that “if my friends from other schools had to spend that much on their dances, I’m pretty sure they would be horrified.” However, this is all in terms of our limited experience with school dances and ticket costs, and so it is also possible that other schools have a similar cost for dances. But according to sources from different schools, the ticket costs usually run anywhere from $10 to $25, like the Winter Ball at Holy Names which costs $25, or those at public schools that are around $20. So why does Lakeside’s cost so much?

There are quite a lot of answers to that question, some of which we don’t know. But Upper School Assistant Director Mr. Bonar noted that this year’s cost of hosting the event was actually slightly lower than it had been before, since the organizers of the dance didn’t rent a separate venue and were able to find a student to DJ instead of hiring one. Mr. Bonar stated that since “about 350 people showed up,” the profit was almost $10,000. This money will go towards the juniors’ “class budget for future class activities.” A junior specified that a significant portion of it will go towards funding their prom.

In the end, whether or not the dance itself was actually worth it really depends on the person. While a lot of effort went into putting together a whole-school dance, there definitely could’ve been improvements made to make the entire experience more enjoyable. Whatever the reasons for the cost, the dance was still a good way for students to socialize and feel part of the community again, and we hope that the organizers of the Spring Fling take these different factors into deliberation and reconsider the price of participating in a school dance.