Bay Winter Solstice seating-scarcity

by Raemon 1 min read1st Feb 20202 comments

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tl'dr: The last few years, Bay Winter Solstice celebration has sold out (at 240 seats, plus an overflow room). I'm one of the three organizers this year, and am trying to gauge the True Demand.

So, would you be inviting friends to Winter Solstice who wouldn't come on their own? And/or have you not gone to Solstice in the last few years due to scarcity of seating?

The past couple years Bay Solstice has been held in a planetarium, which is a pretty cool aesthetic, but only fit 240 people. It turns out there's a bigger planetarium in San Francisco (seats 290 seats, 50 more than last time. It also has a nicer overflow room that seats 100)

The question is "is 50 more seats enough?"

Last year we ended up fitting everyone who showed up (including overflow people into the room), with 20 people who originally said they were coming who didn't end up showing up, and 10 people on my facebook wall who said they would have come or brought more people if seating didn't feel scarce.

For the past several years, Bay Winter Solstice attendance has clearly been bottlenecked on venue size, and it seems pretty valuable to have a year where there's _zero_ scarcity, to generally fight any perception of solstice-attendance as scarce, as well as to get a clear sense of what the true demand actually is.

The main alternatives seem to be "Ballrooms and theaters that are reasonably nice but don't really hit any particular Solstice Aesthetic that hard."

It so happens the planetarium is currently on-hold (but not officially booked) for Dec 19th, which is the currently planned date for Bay Solstice Celebration, but we might be able to snatch it away if we move quickly.

I have a lot of uncertainty over whether 290 seats is enough, and curious about other people's thoughts.

Does a Nicer Overflow Room Matter?

I also have some uncertainty about the new planetarium's overflow room. Last year, the overflow room doubled as the childcare room, which wasn't a nice experience for those were really trying to get "as close to the Dark Solstice aesthetic as possible." 

In we went with the SF Planetarium, a) there'd be childcare room separate from the overflow room, b) the overflow room is really quite nice, nestled right up against the planetarium itself. It has nice mood lighting. It also has a giant projection screen composed out of three projectors. I think there's potential to a legitimately good job livestreaming the event if we put a lot of attention into it. It fits 100 people.

Alternately, it's plausible to maybe just have, like, a whole second Solstice in the overflow room (possibly with a somewhat different vibe).

Last few years the overflow room has been this sad, awkward middle ground of "only a few people go there, most of whom ended up getting to relocate to the planetarium". It seems plausible that if we did a good job with it as a whole second venue that got 50+ people it might feel like a legitimate experience in it's own right. 

Or that might be pure wishful thinking. 

Curious to hear thoughts about all of this.

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