CAMPsafe Tea Dance Weathers the Storm
|by Bill Sievert|
It was beginning to look like even our CAMPsafe lifeguards wouldnt be able to save the day of our first CAMP SAFE-Tea Dance on June 20th. It seemed like we would require the assistance of Noah and his Ark to round up a crowd.
After a perfectly beautiful Saturday and meteorologist predictions of a similar Sunday, the spring drought in Rehoboth Beach came to an unexpected close around dawn that morning of the dance. A chilly wind kicked up, the skies continued to pour forth their liquid refreshment throughout the day, and Route One was clogged as thousands of visitors put a quick close to their weekend at the beach.
As the director of this years CAMPsafe project, I was a nervous wreck. We had envisioned the SAFE-Tea dances as a wonderful way of interacting with our community, of having fun while encouraging us all to engage in safe sexual practices. But would anyone come out (so to speak) on such a miserably ugly afternoon?
My stomach churned as I listened to traffic reports of the exodus from town, and I stared at the bleak skies hoping against hope for some miraculous break in the cloudsat least over Cloud 9. As the rain continued late into the afternoon, I realized how appropriate the name Cloud 9 is. While I was trying to prevent wet gusts of wind from stealing all the postcards, magnets and survey forms from our informational table on the semi-enclosed deck, Randy Overbaugh and the Cloud 9 staff were cheerfully setting up festive floral arrangements and a table brimming with fruits and cheeses.
It looked like a scene from "Snow White," the staff whistling while they worked. Despite their enthusiastic optimism, my stomach didnt stop its acrobatic act until just after 5 p.m., the moment when Keana slipped into the disc jockeys booth and unleashed her music, an eclectic mix of current house favorites and classic dance numbers. When she spun the stirring "Re-light My Fire" by Dan Hartman, my fears melted into excitement.
Suddenly, there were several people at our information table, offering to fill out the annual survey of safe sex practices and placing their names in a fish bowl for drawings of our limited edition CAMPsafe "Life Guard" tank tops, plus a Cloud 9 sweatshirt. Although the rain had trickled off to misty drizzle, the chilly air made the drawing for the sweatshirt particularly popular.
At least a few people are showing up, I sighed to myself. And then there were a few more, and a few more. Before the first hour of the dance had passed, the place was packed. I needed to call in reinforcements to help hand out condoms and decks of CAMPsafe playing cards and to collect survey forms. Inside, the dance floor was hopping, and hunky guys were streaming onto the deck shirtless to cool off in the breeze. CAMPsafe lifeguards Mike Ferens and Craig Hollinger, who had run up the street to buy sweatshirts an hour earlier, suddenly were back down to their "Life Guard" tanks. The big crowd was truly heating up the early evening airand many were clamoring to win one of our tanks.
My efforts to count the crowd became fruitless, as both the inside and outside filled with partygoers. From the number of entries submitted for our drawings, I can report that there were at least 220 people in the house. We distributed more than 300 condoms, passed out 400 of our lifeguards postcards and magnets, gave away 20 tank tops and awarded decks of CAMPsafe playing cards to the first 50 folks who turned in a survey. (If you werent at the dance, wed appreciate it if you would fill out the survey on-line at www.camprehoboth.com.)
Most important, spirits were running high. Everyone seemed to be having a terrific timeso much so that Keana agreed to keep the music coming for an extra half-hour beyond the dances scheduled closing time. When the party finally wound down, Randy and I leaned on the bar, exhausted, and exchanged "Wows!"
Now I had something new to worry about. If the first SAFE-Tea Dance could draw such support on a dreary June day, what kind of crowd might we draw for the next big dance on Sunday, July 25th. The renowned Robbie Leslie will be our guest disc jockey that afternoon; well have more limited edition "Life Guard" tank tops to give away and we hope that all of you (men and women) will be on hand to see what surprises SAFE-Tea Dance number two brings.
Personally, Ill be more relaxed, now that I know that a little bad weather is not enough to scare off our CAMPsafe people.
Thanks to all who participated in the first dance, and mark your calendars for the 25th. The fun has just begun.
Meanwhile, have a safe and healthy Fourth of July. Keep an eye out for some of our CAMPsafe lifeguards raising the CAMPsafe banner on the beach during the holiday weekend. And dont forget to pick up our complimentary condoms at most area guesthouses and bars (including the Blue Moon, Cloud 9, Double L, Harlows, Nomad, Purple Parrot and the Renegade). Youll also find our free Lifeguards postcards at more than 20 area businesses.
Finally, elsewhere in this issue you will find a registration form for our first ever CAMPsafe Mens Weekend Retreat to be hosted in cooperation with the Renegade Resort and the Whitman-Walker Clinic on Oct. 2-3. The weekend will include an exciting pair of seminars for gay and bisexual men on safe-sex skills and relationship building. Already, there is a lot of interest in the group sessions on the "Anatomy of Pleasure" and "the Dating Game." The sessions are free, but please register early, as space is quite limited.
LETTERS From CAMP Rehoboth, Vol. 9, No. 8, July 2, 1999