SUNDANCE 99 Hits a Record $145,000
|by Murray Archibald|
In a recent article about SUNDANCE I commented that over the years I was repeating myselfand I suspect I'm about to do it again! After twelve years of SUNDANCING it's hard to find new words to describe what the experience is like for me. It is too much a part of my life. Impartial? Forget it! I'm not even going to try.
First the facts. Over this past Labor Day Weekend, thanks to a committed group of co-chairs, over 400 Hosts, Supporters and Sponsors, an army of volunteers, and sold out crowds both nights, SUNDANCE 99 cleared over $145,000.
I don't know why, but every year there is some reason for me to get the pre-SUNDANCE jitters. This year, with hurricane Dennis parked for eternity off the east coast and gale force winds whipping all the Rehoboth rainbow flags into a grey sky frenzy, my heart sank. "What if no one comes to the beach?" that little voice in the back of my head would whisper every time I frantically checked the weather channel. "Move," I wanted to scream. "Begone; get out of here; die!"
Having no power over hurricanes, the storm heeded me not and stayed putbut the people did not. From far and near they came for that last big hurrah of the summerwhich just goes to show that "come hell or high water" we gay people will find a way to make it to the party!
I don't know why I worryI guess maybe I really didn't, because none of us ever stopped working on the preparations. Lights, sound, decorations, graphics, bar, food, securitythe Convention Center hummed with activity for almost a full week. I am always dazzled (and I know I've said that before) by the incredible amount of work that people give to make the entire thing take place.
In Washington, our dear friend Sondra Arkin, not only handles our growing list of Corporate Sponsors but manages to have all of our printing needs (including the prints of my SUNDANCE painting) donated. None of which she could do, of course, without the talented help of my artist/designer sister Mary Beth Ramsey who created all the posters, palm cards, invitations, banners and ads.
For all of its twelve years, Joyce Felton and her staff at the Blue Moon have been responsible for the food at SUNDANCEand this year was no exception. Except for the fact that when we arrived at the Convention Center this year we learned that renovations were taking longer than promised (not an uncommon occurrence as anyone who has lived through a renovation can testify) and we were without a kitchen. No stove, no waterand Joyce didn't bat an eye.
I said dazzling and I meant it! Kathy Weir took a weeks vacation from her job so she could work full time coordinating volunteers and the CAMP office. Natalie Moss, our auction chair, has perfected such a brilliant technique for tracking auction buyers and prices that she has been asked to give lessons to other groups. With Charlie Allen on ticket sales, Cloud 9's John Berdini taking care of the bars, and SCAC's Glen Pruitt and staff at the doorwe couldn't go wrong.
Dazzling too, is the incredible list of volunteers. Every year I am amazed by the people who return to help again and again. Some of them I only see at SUNDANCE time. They cheerfully show up for a few days to be worked like dogsand still come back for more.
There are a lot of things I really loved about this year's SUNDANCEthe sixteen light columns that surrounded the dance floor, the $6,000 that Michael Schlecter paid for my 1999 SUNDANCE painting, all the people learning how to fan dance, Tinky Winky singing "I Am What I Am," and Princess Gladys...but my favorite line of the entire weekend came from Robert Kovalcik of South Pacific. About 4:00 p.m. on the afternoon of the Auction a minor tremor in the Convention Center caused us to issue another floral 911. Repair kit in hand, Robert rushed over to save the day, "Oh my God!" he said gazing at the huge pile of fallen flowers. "It collapsed under the weight of its own beauty!"
By now, just about everyone knows that SUNDANCE began as a tenth anniversary celebration for Steve Elkins and me. This year is our twenty-first. SUNDANCE started out as a celebration of love and that's what it remains. It is a time of giving, a time when people from all over our communitygay, straight, black, white, old and young come together to share, to celebrate, to give, to take an active part in making our community a better place. It is that spirit that makes SUNDANCE such a success. The night of the dance as I was making my way across the crowded dance floor, my sister grabbed my hand. "Just look," she said "at all the different people around us." SUNDANCE has become a community eventa whole community event.
From Steve and for myself I would like to say thank you to everyone who participated in SUNDANCE 99. Yes, I am dazzled by every one of you. You give me hope, you give me a feeling that there will truly be a Rainbow Renaissance because so many people care. You give me the energy and creative boost I need to get started on SUNDANCE 2000!
LETTERS From CAMP Rehoboth, Vol. 9, No. 13, Sept. 17, 1999