After returning from running an exhausting International Night (iNite) rehearsal, I sat down with my Chipotle Burrito Bowl to answer questions about ticket sales. Within about 10 minutes, at 9 p.m., Facebook went bananas. I’m sure you know the rest. We sold out in a record-shattering one hour, #iNite2015 trended locally, and several people requested a second show.
iNite is Jefferson’s largest event, based on attendance. In fact, we promote it as the Washington Area’s largest high school event. Who’s ever heard of a high school hosting an event for 2,000 people at a university? This is why last year’s decision to hold the show at George Mason University (GMU) was four years in the making. We had no idea what to expect, so we just went with the flow. As the only non-senior Namaste officer last year, I watched as the highly capable and experienced officer corps put on a magnificent show at GMU where “Greatness Awaited.”
Then we had the Jefferson show. We expected it to be easy after GMU’s success – after all, we had been doing the same thing since 2002! Boy, were we wrong…
It started with tickets. After the record set in 2013 with tickets selling out in 11 minutes and scalping hitting a record high, we knew we had to try something else. So after trying several tactics, our sponsors at the time, English teacher Judith Bello and Alexandra Pou, actually went around the school selling tickets during lunch and Jefferson Learning Center (JLC). Although we had tickets until the day of the show, several parents ended up driving to Jefferson that night, only to return home empty-handed and disappointed because tickets sold out as soon as the doors opened.
Further, poor logistics plagued the show. We did not have enough volunteers, we did not have a tech crew, we did not have a plan for performer placement. Having a show at Jefferson requires us to reserve at least 200 seats for performers, which leaves us with a less than 300 seats. We simply were unprepared. The show went on, of course, but it lacked the “hype” and excitement that the previous night’s show had heralded.
After the show, we polled several club leaders asking them whether they would want two shows, or whether they would want just one following year. We then opened it up to performers to see whether they would want two shows or one. In upwards of about 70 percent of the cases, the club leaders preferred one show and in 60 percent of the cases, the performers preferred one show. Both groups had the same reason: It’s just too much dang effort.
Namaste and iNite are student-run organizations; we base our decisions on your feedback. So for iNite 2015, the new officer corp and I decided that one show would be enough. As tickets went on sale for iNite 2015, messages of frustration and anger started to pour in. We assure you that we are trying to alleviate the problem as much as possible. But a second show, especially at this point, is unfeasible. We would have to consider ticketing, rehearsals, parking, logistics and technology, just to name a few. People tend to underestimate the effort that goes into ensuring that_iNite runs smoothly. It’s not as simple as telling the theater “Hey, we’re gonna have a show here.” They won’t respond with “aite,” they’ll respond with an invoice for $19,000 and hundreds of questions. I can assure you that the Namaste officers and I are doing all we can to host Jefferson’s largest event.
iNite is Jefferson’s largest event is for two reasons: the pride and unity of the Jefferson community. iNite grew from being a few cultural clubs and a group of food-stalls to being the extravaganza it is today. Few can say the same. Other schools have International Nights as well, but all of them lack the sense of school spirit that Jefferson has. At iNite, we bond as a community. We laugh at our MCs, cheer for our performers and applaud our friends. That’s why I love this school. That’s why I love this community. That’s why I love iNite. As Coach Mark Gray-Mendes put it on Twitter, “Isn’t I-Nite supposed to bring out the best of the TJ community?”
So in the spirit of pride and unity, I strongly urge you to refrain from scalping tickets. It is unlawful and immoral. We sincerely apologize to those unable to purchase tickets this year – my own parents couldn’t get into the website. There was no computer glitch; demand was high and space was limited. I would also like to thank our sponsors Pou and chemistry teacher Hadan Kauffman for their unparalleled support, the Namaste officers for putting in so much time and dedication and the iNite Acts for their tremendous efforts to bring you a wonderful show.
This year’s theme for iNite is “it’s showtime.” There’s a reason we didn’t say “these are showtimes.” That is not only not as catchy, but also not true. This year, rather than having two iNites, there will only be one – at GMU on March 14. There can only be one. And the show must go on.
For more information about the show, visit tjhsst.edu/inite.