Amber Frushon, the new, young programming director for the Smyrna Opera House, has jumped in feet first, planning events for teens and young adults. Parents were initially concerned about chaperones and the age range. With the event behind her, we checked in to see how things went.
BACKGROUND Last weekend, the Smyrna Opera House hosted its first teen dance party for 14 to 20-year olds. The event, a “Summer Solstice Blackout Party,” was the brainchild of the opera house’s new part-time programming director, 20-year-old Amber Frushon.
What is a “black light” party? Organizers replace normal light bulbs with black lights that illuminate neon colors and bright whites. Music is played and the only light source is the glowing clothes, accessories and party supplies in the room.
Ahead of the event, Frushon explained that she and her roommate used to host similar parties for friends, saying that “the dark room makes everyone less embarrassed about dancing” while the “music and neon makes it feel more like a club.”
HOW DID IT GO?
SOH Executive Director Robin Bruner said that the event completely defied all of her expectations.
“Initially, I was worried that we would have more chaperones than kids,” she said. “At first, only a few kids trickled in. But, then, all of a sudden they were flooding through the doors.”
She and Frushon said that they had a total of 119 teens attend. The average age was 14 or 15 years old. Two guild members worked the concession while four chaperones (three board members and one spouse) kept an eye on the teens. There was also a police officer who remained in the building during the entire dance and monitored all floors of the building. Once the tickets were sold, the SOH office manager also came up to supervise things.
“Our DJ kept an eye on things, too,” Frushon said. “All together, I would say we had about 10 chaperones, one police officer [inside] and two Smyrna Police officers [outside] who made rounds in the parking lot to make sure no teens were loitering.”
Still many parents had reservations, mostly about the supervision and the idea of 14-year-olds mingling with 20-year-olds. A handful actually approached the office manager with their concerns and were urged to check things out for themselves, free of charge. They were also encouraged to speak to the chaperones directly.
“Every parent was satisfied with the amount of coverage we provided and [by the time they left] were happy to have a place that was safe but also provided entertainment for their kids,” Frushon said, adding that many more expressed that the event was just what local teens needed. “We were encouraged by them to do more programming like this and we intend to.”
Frushon plans to have a Halloween party for teens that can’t trick-or-treat due to age restrictions and town curfews. Long term, the plan is to have teen events at least four times a year with events during winter break, something closer to spring, like St. Patrick’s Day or during spring break. Next summer, she wants to repeat the black light party again but hopes to have it closer to the actual summer solstice, which takes place Sunday, June 21, 2015.