Washington Ballet Jeté Society Hosts Dance Party in Secret, Raw Location

By Adele Chapin March 2, 2011, 9:10 AM EST

Photo: Theo Kossenas

Washington Ballet Jeté Society Dance Party
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The Jeté Society of the Washington Ballet celebrated its 10th annual Dance Party on Saturday, drawing a crowd of more than 900 young professionals with the promise of a secret Georgetown location, and a carnival sideshow theme with fire-breathers and stilt walkers. This year’s event marked an all-time high in Dance Party attendance, nearly doubling the 500 guests at last year’s partywith demand so fierce that posters on Craigslist and Facebook requested tickets to the sold-out event.

“This party has such a buzz around it, and for the tenth anniversary we wanted to blow it out of the water,” said Elizabeth Early, manager of special events and stewardship for the Washington Ballet. That meant a unique event venue, something different than the embassies that the parties had been held at in years past. When planning for the event began in October, Early dreamed of a raw, warehouse-type space, and turned to a developer friend at MRP Realty who suggested an unfinished 40,000-square-foot floor of an MRP office and condo building at Washington Harbour. “The cool thing is now that they’ve rented the floor to tenants, hopefully we are the only ones to do an event in this space,” Early said.

In order to make the venue look like a nightclub and not a construction zone, Early relied on in-kind sponsors Syzygy Event Productions and Digital Lightning, with Syzygy bringing in glowing Lucite bars, hot pink and black pipe and drape and light-up marquee signs. Many of these elements were used by Syzygy for a recent private party, and repurposing the materials helped to keep costs down. Digital Lightning provided moving lights, multicolored gobos, and haze for the dance floor. 

An email the week of told guests where to check in for the party, and fire dancers from Dance Afire stationed outside the building greeted guests from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. Once inside, the fashionable crowd danced to pop songs from DJ Pitch One, and snacked on carnival-inspired treats like mini corn dogs and fried Snickers lollipops from RSVP Catering. And although the party lasted till 2 a.m., everyone cleared the dance floor at 10:30 p.m. for a performance by body-glittered Washington Ballet dancers choreographed to Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face.” 

To make the party more inclusive for the anniversary, the Jeté Society lowered the ticket price from last year’s prices, charging $75 for members, $95 for non-members, and V.I.P. at $150. The event raised over $50,000. 

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