Photos: Murray Archibald and Steve Elkins in the DJ booth at the Strand at the first Sundance; Invitation to the first Sundance (1988)
This Labor Day weekend we will celebrate Sundance for the 25th time. That’s a big deal for us! Sundance even predates the founding of CAMP Rehoboth. Over the last quarter century Sundance has raised several million dollars for HIV/AIDS organizations and CAMP Rehoboth. It has become an end-of-the-summer tradition here in Rehoboth Beach.
From the very beginning, Sundance has depended on the contributions from its Hosts to produce the party. Somewhere along the way we added Sponsors and Supporters and a variety of levels within all three categories. In the beginning, however, we had only Hosts, and at the very first Sundance there were only 22 of those.
Looking back at the Host list from that first Sundance is bittersweet: five of them are dead. Thankfully, many of the rest, even after all these years, are still Sundance Hosts. I’ve never counted, but I know from living through it, that many other Hosts from the first seven or eight years of Sundance are no longer with us as well. Sometime in the mid-1990s, treatment for HIV/AIDS finally starting slowing the death rate, but the experiences of those terrible times continue to evoke the deep feelings that inspired us to start Sundance in the first place.
The history of that first Sundance is no secret; it’s been written about many times in the pages of this magazine. That first Sundance was a tenth anniversary party for Steve Elkins and me. Sundance hasn’t been an anniversary party for us for a very long time, but every year I’m surprised at how many people still wish us “happy anniversary.”
I do believe that if anyone had told me back in those early years that we would still be producing Sundance 25 years later, I would have called them crazy. That first year was easy, and it seemed natural enough to do it for a second and even a third time. By the fourth year, the novelty had worn off, and I distinctly remember Steve and I looking at each other and accepting the fact that if we wanted hosts that year we had to do the asking ourselves. We grabbed a couple of clipboards and started working Baltimore Avenue. Once we made it through that summer—1992 I believe it was—we started getting more and more volunteers and Hosts and the event grew larger and larger with each passing year.
At the second Sundance in 1989 we added a small auction for the first time, and the following year we added a second night to the event just to handle the auction. The only time we ever returned to one night for the entire event was the first year we moved into the Convention Center in 1994. Talk about a nightmare! Once the auction was broken down we flipped the space into a huge dance floor. That was before we had all the huge trusses and lights and sound that we do today.
Over the years hundreds of people have been involved with Sundance. These days we easily call upon the services of several hundred volunteers each year, and our Sponsor, Supporter, and Host List includes hundreds more.
In celebration of the 25th anniversary Sundance, we’re hoping to sign up as many past Sundance Sponsors, Supporters, and Hosts as possible, and find ways of recognizing everyone for their amazing support over the last 25 years. We are, of course, also trying to sign up as many new ones as we can. We are, it could be said, looking for a host of hosts!
Here at CAMP Rehoboth, the month of July is all about signing up support for Sundance. Sundance forms and letters have been sent to our mailing list. There’s also a form on pages 40-41 of this issue, but the easiest way of all to sign up is online. Sign up the be a Sundance 2012 Sponsor, Supporter, or Host.
These days, Sundance is no longer strictly an HIV/AIDS related event. It does support the work of CAMP Rehoboth, which in turn helps us in our constant efforts to provide HIV/AIDS prevention and education, as well as other health related services, to our community. It also goes to support the work and programs that we do here at CAMP Rehoboth, and helps us sustain the Community Center as a vital part of our town.
Over the July 4th week, CAMP Rehoboth served as host for two national LGBT organizations: Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN). In conversations with folks from both organizations, I heard a deep appreciation for our space and for the programs we have to offer to our community.
As an organization CAMP Rehoboth pulls support from cities all up and down the east coast. The same is true for our Sundance Sponsor, Supporter, and Host list. That’s one of the great benefits of living in a resort community—plus our proximity to so many major cities!
CAMP Rehoboth depends on a number of sources of revenue to survive. This magazine provides a big chunk. We also have income from our rental units at 39 Baltimore Avenue. Rounding it all out is our annual membership and events—and Sundance is our single biggest event of the year. It plays an important role in our ability to meet our budget and to survive in today’s economy.
Yes, 25 years of Sundance is a big deal for us. It’s a big deal for our community and for all those who have supported and attended Sundance over the years. If ever there was time to become a Sponsor, Supporter, or Host of Sundance, this is it.
Because we’ve been doing this event for so many years it feels like a family—a great big Sundance family! All are welcome to join this “family.” Please consider becoming a Sponsor, Supporter, or Host of this year’s Sundance 2012: Legend of the Silver Rainbow.
Murray Archibald, CAMP Co-founder and President of the Board of Directors of CAMP Rehoboth, is an artist in Rehoboth Beach.
Sundance Hosts 1989 at the Strand nightclub in downtown RB; Sundance Hosts (CAMP Board member Steve Hoult on left) and beach house friends preparing for Sundance 1992.