We did another walk through at the Lucie Stern Center this morning. I just love that site. It is a group of historic buildings with the LC center, two theatres (for opera and children's productions), a lovely front garden (done in the Spanish style) and a back garden, with a raised lawn area for performances. It has a nice kitchen, two rooms for Vendors (small, but adequate) and an art deco ballroom, which holds about 300 people. The entire place is charming and the staff there are great.
Drawbacks: Only 2 bathrooms, we can't tack anything on the walls or beams (this is true for most places one rents, but it's especially true on historic buildings). Decorating is a challenge for this reason, but we have our ways.
The center only holds about 350 people. Of course, with the economy so bad, we'd be thrilled to get that many. The old days when the Witches' Ball could draw over 600 people are long gone...of course, in those days, we were renting much larger halls and paying over $8,000 to get them. So many people are out of work in the Bay Area and the economy of the whole state is so bad that I can't see doing that sort of thing again anytime in the next 3 - 5 years.
So, the ball will be smaller and less grand this year, but it's a great deal of fun. Ticket sales are encouraging. Our very first ball was held at the Lucie Stern in 2000 and the place has very good memories for us. Personally, I think it's lucky (in both senses of that word) that we find ourselves back there again.
Right now, the Tribal Dancers are trying to figure out how to handle lightning for the back garden. Also, the Decorating folks are working with a very small budget this year (about $200, as opposed to $1,000 in 2002) and they are choosing to use simple, large, dramatic pieces that will show well that night. The days when we could swamp a place with a decorating team for 4 - 8 hours are also gone. (That part, I don't miss, it could be exhausting to work all day on decorations, give the ball that night, and take everything down - in 2002 our core group (me included) was there from 8 in the morning till 2 the next morning - it's just not fair to do that to people, however eager and good hearted they are. So, this year it's 2 hours to decorate the ballroom and set up the other rooms for the Vendors and one hour for tear down everything and leave - much easier on all concerned.
The weather Witches need to get busy, though - we need a nice night as our dancers will perform outside. We've always had beautiful evenings for the ball - let's hope that this year stays true to form.