Archive for October 29th, 2007

WHERE’S The Party? Woah – Never Mind!

Monday, October 29th, 2007

All party invitations tell you the “4 W’s”: who is having the event, what they are celebrating, when it happens, and – finally – where it will be.

Logic dictates that – if you send someone an invitation – you naturally hope they will join you. Unfortunately, just by your choice of where, you may unknowingly be delivering the message: Don’t Come.

My band and I recently played a fund-raising event hosted by a sorority. The age range ran from current co-eds and their dates, to guests of their parents’ and even grandparents’ ages. All of which was fine. We were prepared to play a wide selection of music, with something that should have pleased all of the above.

The trouble was – all of the above weren’t there. Only a brave few of the older invitees showed up. Why? It was their sorority, and the proceeds benefitted a variety of worthy causes. So where were the more mature Sisters – watching a “Matlock” re-run? No – according to some of the only folks my age and higher there – they stayed away because the party was held in our town’s “Bohemian Quarter.”

Deep Ellum is a Dallas neighborhood of 1920s-vintage storefronts, now converted into a collection of funky nightclubs. It is a mecca for 20-somethings, who – every weekend – keep the area hopping until the wee small hours. Many who are over 30, but consider themselves “adventurous,” also willingly venture into what is – admittedly – a pretty seedy part of town. To them, the occasional panhandler or drunk passed out in an alleyway only adds to the Bourbon Street ambience of the place. And – while regular reports of crime there may cause prudent patrons to stay together in groups – it hasn’t stopped folks from coming.

Young folks, that is. For – on any given Saturday – you will see a flock of black-clad, dog collar-wearing Sid Vicious lookalikes; hair of every conceivable color and cut; and fashions inspired by The Rocky Horror Picture Show. What you won’t see are people whose hair has any (natural) white in it. Most 40, 50, and 60-somethings simply won’t go there. Not even to support their favorite charity. Unlike the younger set, they are not willing to get all dressed up, pay top-dollar, then experience the sensory (sights, sounds, and smells) smorgasbord that is Deep Ellum. For fund-raisers such as ours was, this effectively eliminated the most financially generous demographic.

So if you are planning a multi-generational event – be it a wedding reception, company party, or fund raiser – bear in mind when choosing your venue that where to have your gala is one of the most important decisions you will make in determining its success. If you really want Aunt Fanny to come, don’t put out the “Un-Welcome” mat. Leave Funkytown to the Goths and Lydia The Tattooed Lady. Opt instead for a place that will seem inviting to everybody. (Well – everybody but “Sid Vicious,” maybe.)