Beauty and the Beast (The Stories of Our Lives)
Not long ago I was working on the designs for Sundance 2015 (the 28th Sundance!) and the thought occurred to me that I needed a second huge mirror ball to accompany the one that always hangs from the truss over the center of the dance floor. The theme is, after all, The Super Magic Rainbow Glitter Ball!
Quickly, I shot off an email to our production supplier and friend, John Andraka at Starlite Productions, explaining the theme, and asking if they had another large mirror ball I could use on the stage. He responded with: ”It looks like we have a second 36” ball available, which is exactly what we use on the center of the dance floor. It also looks like “The Beast” is available, which is a 4’ mirror ball. We’d probably have to figure out a ground supported rig to hold either one, but anything is possible. I have reserved both for you until we make a determination.”
My answer back was simple.
“Not that I would ever overdo something,” I said, “but of course I’m wildly attracted to a mirror ball called “The Beast”!
As this issue of Letters from CAMP Rehoboth goes to press, I still haven’t finished the final designs for the event, but I do know for sure that if it is at all possible “The Beast” will be part of the “beauty” that is Sundance.
In the days that followed my online conversation with John, the phrase “The Beast” was stuck in my imagination. From there it was an easy jump to the idea that all of Sundance is a beast. It is a tremendous event, and the numbers speak for themselves: two nights; over 450 individuals signed up to be Hosts, Supporters, and Sponsors; almost 500 items in the Sundance Auction, hundreds of volunteers, and more than a thousand participants. Plus massive amounts of lights and sound, and the crew and staff it takes to make it all work.
The first couple of years of Sundance, the excitement of creating a new event carried us through, but as Sundance grew larger, so did the work load. In its first decade I clearly remember swearing to myself every year that I “would never do this again!” Somewhere along the way, I realized that was a foolish waste of energy and spirit. With a new attitude I embraced the work—and it didn’t hurt that we created a number of Sundance Team Captain positions to handle the ever increasing workload.
My trajectory with CAMP Rehoboth followed a similar path. In the beginning I mistakenly thought that we could create the organization, put a Board and staff together, and I could retreat to the solitude of my studio and concentrate on my art. It did not take long for me to see the folly in that kind of thinking, and it was from that experience that I learned that the act of creation is only a first step. Organizations and events, like the people they serve, need continuing nurture in order to survive.
Like Sundance, the beginning years of CAMP Rehoboth were not always easy ones, and as it grew, it too could be a bit of a beast.
In the familiar fairytale of Beauty and the Beast, Beauty dreamed of a prince, but fell in love with the beast—and in so doing, discovered that the Beast was the prince of her dreams.
When we started CAMP Rehoboth, we had a strong vision of what we wanted it to be, and even though there were some “beastly” hard years along the way, we too have grown into that vision—and our dream has become our reality.
We humans love our stories. From birth, we learn about life through nursery rhymes and fairytales. As we grow older, books, movies, and TV shows help to shape who we are and what we believe. To that we add the stories of our own lives and experiences, weaving it all together into a one of kind tapestry that defines us as individuals. When we work together as a group, our individual stories are rewoven into the fabric we call community.
Everything begins with a simple story. Over time that story takes on weight and complexity. The plot thickens! There are sequels and spin-offs, comedy and drama—and quite a few scary moments along the way.
In the beginning, Sundance was a beach house family celebrating an anniversary and desperately looking for some way to not feel so impotent in the face of a disease that was killing our friends.
In the beginning, CAMP Rehoboth was looking for a way to “create a more positive” world for LGBT people in our local community.
Simple stories, but oh how they have grown—and oh how they have been wrapped in a blanket of community support!
At this year’s Sundance, I’m quite sure our DJ/Remixer Joe Gauthreaux will play a new song he wrote and produced featuring Inaya Day called “You Are My Family.” “When you’re gay, your friends are your family,” he explains from his recording studio in New York City. “That is the true message of the song: that no matter what, we will be there for each other, no matter what.”
One of the legendary stories that come from the days preceding the creation of CAMP Rehoboth was the Rehoboth bumper sticker that read: “Keep Rehoboth a Family Town.” Like Sundance and CAMP Rehoboth, Rehoboth too has grown into the vision that my husband Steve Elkins has been fond of expressing for the last 25 years. “We want it to be a family town, too—and families come in all sizes and shapes and orientations!”
Like Beauty, we have discovered that in working out the “beastly” parts of life, we find our true heart and happiness—and the story of our lives.
Now let’s get back to that Beast of a mirror ball! See you on the dance floor!
Murray Archibald, CAMP Co-founder and President of the Board of Directors of CAMP Rehoboth, is an artist in Rehoboth Beach. Email Murray