CityStep Rejects Formal for Roxy Party

Faced with declining ticket sales for its annual formal, CityStep has canceled the ball in favor of hosting a dance party at the Roxy, a Boston club, in November.

Leaders of CityStep, a program that sends Harvard undergrads to teach public school students to dance, said the change is a response to a cultural shift on campus.

“In the past, the ball has been our major fundraiser,” said Megan E. Lebow ’06, one of CityStep’s executive producers. “But there are so many balls now, what with the final used to be the only campus-wide formal, but in the past few years, it has really just been freshmen.”

Peter A. Dodd ’06, who is planning the party along with Geoffrey S. Johnston ’07, said that the nightclub venue offered a larger capacity, better music and the option for attendees to drink alcohol.

“The Roxy is the perfect venue because it is inherently sexy; it’s an old-fashioned ball room turned multi-level club that deserves to be crowded with welldressed and flashy undergrads,” Dodd wrote in an e-mail.

Unlike the Children’s Museum, which hosted last year’s formal, the Roxy will provide the D.J., security, alcohol and clean up. CityStep will be able to sell 1,500 tickets compared to 1,200 at the museum.

“Within the group there was some concern that it would degrade the integrity of CityStep,” said Kimberley C. Weber ’07, who is in charge of publicity for the party. “But ultimately it’s not about us drinking to the kids so much as us making money for the kids.”

Dodd wrote that by selling only 1,500 tickets, CityStep would ensure “the Roxy isn’t [the] overcrowded mess that it has been at other club parties.”

CityStep is hoping to raise $12,000, money that will go primarily toward the annual April performance by the Cambridge students in the program and to shuttles that transport participants to and from Harvard.

In the past the ball has raised as much as $14,000, but last year it only brought in $6,000, said Caroline M. McKay ’05, who is also an executive producer.

McKay said she thought that the new venue’s less formal atmosphere would attract more partygoers.

“I think people don’t really want to go to all the effort of dressing up and finding a date,” she said. “It can be a lot easier just to go to a club with your friends and have a good time.”

CityStep, which is composed of about 80 Harvard undergraduates, serves four schools in Cambridge and reaches about 120 students from fifth to seventh grade. The volunteers teach a dance program that serves as a supplement to the arts education program offered by the Cambridge public school system.

Lebow called the program “another medium for kids to excel in and raise their self-confidence.”

During the fall semester the group works to foster students’ performance skills through improvisation games, and during the spring semester they focus on learning the choreography for their performance, held at the Cambridge Ringe and Latin School.

The CityStep party at the Roxy will be held Nov. 10, and tickets will go for $15. Though Nov. 10 is a Wednesday, Harvard students have the next day off because of Veterans’ Day.