Saturday, April 16, 2011

Just Dance ... You'll Be Okay

This Adventure is more of an Epic. It's almost like two separate adventures in one post, so enjoy double the economics, double the fashion, and double the adventure!

I've been to a lot of dances in my life. Granted, I am a white girl from the suburbs, whose level of rhythm, flexibility, and general sultriness is roughly equivalent to that of a seizing giraffe. I went to these dances not out of a lack of self-awareness, but because I was in Student Council. Student Council put the "dance" in attendance, so for me, dances kind of fall into a special category that I call "obligatory fun." The obligatory part is nice, because you can plan ahead. The fun part is nice, because you don't hate going.

I have never skipped a dance. This is probably because I am very much a white girl from the suburbs, and so I also lack that bohemian/rebel quality that allows me to throw awesome "alternative" events. It's not that I can't get out of the system, it's that I never even noticed the system. This year, though, I thought that maybe I'd skip Spring Formal. Spring Formal is like prom's cooler, relaxed, fun college sister. Still, it's a dance, and after seven years, I felt like my moves to "Yeah" by Usher were getting a little stale.

Anyway, I was going to skip the dance, and go to dinner with my roommates. It was going to be fun. It was going to be alternative. It was going to be grand. It did not happen. Breaking the mold was just too much - plus, there was going to be a live jazz band and Van Leeuwen Ice Cream and Scrabble. If you can say no to that, you're either much stronger or much more bohemian than I am.

So, even though I had tried to sell my $25 discounted ticket, I ended up backtracking on that plan, and thinking that I was going to have to buy a $30 ticket. But luckily it all worked out, and I got to keep my ticket, and I went to formal, and it was fun, grand, and alternative (it wasn't what I had planned on doing!).

Formal had an old-time garden party charm to it (see "A Delve Into 1912" for more on this style). I imagine that if Jay Gatsby and Scott Joplin could have gone to a garden party in Brooklyn, it would have been like this. The food and decorations were adorable, the tunes were eclectic but fun, and my shoes started to hurt a lot. My friend and I ended up leaving after only three hours, because we were having a lot of fun, but were getting tired and wanted to "quit while we were ahead."

There are really two parts to the economic analysis on this. The first is that economists assume people are rational players. This is not always the case. Sometimes people change their minds because they decide they want to go to spring formal. This is why economics is better as a chronicler than as a predictor—even though people primarily act on reason, sometimes they make seemingly arbitrary decisions. The market tends to penalize this kind of fickle behavior through fees, mark-ups, and down payments. I narrowly avoided this kind of upcharge for my ticket indecision, but the world is not always that kind.

The second part of the analysis is that by leaving early, my friend and I were able to leave when marginal cost and marginal benefit were equal—in other words, we left at equilibrium! To stay any longer would have added a decreasing marginal (extra) benefit—where every extra minute is a little less awesome than the one before it, because you're tired. Still, you don't want to leave early and miss out on something really great. It's usually tricky to find this point, especially if you're afraid of waste. Finding this point was a big step for me.

All that to say, even though I'm not required to go to dances for class anymore, they're still kind of obligatory fun. I can't skip them, but (even though I look like a seizing giraffe) I really enjoy them.

I decided I was going to formal in:
Gray skirt suit with black detailing, front slit skirt and tied jacket, blue dangling glass bead earrings, three-dimensional necklace, peach bracelets, and green stilettos with gold buckles and faux snakeskin detailing.

I danced for three hours in:
Black cocktail dress, black and white bullseye necklace, drop earrings, tennis bracelet, and black open-toe strappy stilettos.