People dancing at a Bollywood ball

Bollywood ball

With bhangra music, curry, dancing and decorations, your PTA can give guests a hint of Asian culture as part of a fabulous evening of fundraising...

Ruth Desmond, PTA Chair, Parmiter's School Parents' Association, Hertfordshire (1,362 pupils):  'Having held an annual Valentine's ball for many years, our PA decided to try something a bit different - a Bollywood ball! After setting up a small sub-committee, and with the help of a grandparent of a student, we started planning. Our aim was to make the evening as authentic as possible, so we chose images and colours that reflected this - elephants, Kali, flowers, etc, using these on decorations, table plans and menus. We wanted to keep ticket prices low, so we secured a catering company to provide a traditional Indian three-course buffet at a discounted price.

The school hall was the venue, and with a team of helpers we were able to transform it into a Bollywood set, complete with a 'Taj Mahal' archway. Coloured silk hangings were suspended from the ceiling and the tables were decorated with bright satin runners and flowers. Bollywood posters were put up around the hall, a gazebo was placed in the entrance and decorated with hangings and lights and a red carpet put in place. Bollywood images were projected onto the wall of the stage throughout the evening. On arrival, guests received a traditional 'Namaste' welcome from students in costume, before being served Buck's Fizz. A group of sixth form Young Enterprise photography students set up a small studio and took pictures of guests. A BBC Asian Network award-winning DJ provided a fantastic blend of Bollywood-themed music, mixed with classic disco/pop numbers. During the evening we had a fabulous bhangra dance group perform a spectacular floor show followed by an interactive bhangra dance lesson. Virtually all of our 160 guests took to the dance floor - and they stayed there all evening!

The invitations had suggested dressing in a Bollywood theme, and we were delighted to see that the majority of guests embraced this - there were many patterned shirts and colourful saris on display, and that was just the men! Guests were able to complement their outfits with henna tattoos provided by our henna artist, and of course our Young Enterprise team were on hand to take photos, providing guests with a keepsake of the evening. We ran a raffle with prizes donated by local companies and secured a good price on real ale from a local brewery. By utilising items purchased for previous events, negotiating costs with caterers and entertainers, making props and having sixth form students assist, we were able to set a ticket price of £25 - not bad for an evening of entertainment and a three course meal.

We have never seen such a busy dance floor at an event and, given the feedback from guests, the evening was a tremendous success. Comments we received included a couple who said they now wished they had attended more PA events given how much they had enjoyed the ball. The support we received from the school staff, parents and, in particular, our sixth form students meant we were able to keep costs down, and we made a profit of over £2,500. It was hard work but definitely worth it and we have already selected the theme for this year's ball. My advice? Start planning early, don't be afraid to ask suppliers for a discount or to ask around for help and support. There are always people who, whilst not wanting to make the commitment to join the PA, are nonetheless happy to help out for a one-off event.' 

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