29th Sundance Finds Its Sol Groove
The region’s largest and wildest dance and auction event will be even bigger and brighter this year, thanks to an unlikely new venue—the nearly empty Rehoboth Mall. The creative team at CAMP Rehoboth will transform the interior of the mall into Sundance 2016—Rainbow XXIX: Sol Groove for two special nights over the Labor Day weekend. The location offers not only nearly unlimited decorating and staging opportunities, but also the coveted bonus of abundant free parking (free shuttle buses from downtown Rehoboth will also be available). Sundance, now in its 29th year, is a two-day celebration that raises funds for CAMP Rehoboth. Sundance participants can choose to attend the dance, the auction, or both. Tickets are $45 for one night or $80 for both events and can be purchased online.
The first night of Sundance, Saturday, September 3, from 7-10 p.m., is one of the largest silent and live auction events in the region. It includes a cocktail buffet and an open bar all night. DJ Stephen Strasser will provide the music. “I'm excited to share my music for the Sundance auction this year,” he says. “With the theme of Sol Groove, I’m excited to craft a great set of classic, smooth, sun-filled grooves to round out the summer season and help set the mood for a great evening of raising funds for CAMP Rehoboth.” Strasser has attended and been a Sundance host every year since 1993 and has played at local house parties, Cloud 9, the CAMP Rehoboth Silver T-Dance, and other events in the area.
This year, the auction’s centerpiece item is a transatlantic crossing for two (or a twelve day Caribbean Cruise) in a Britannia Balcony Stateroom on the grandest ocean liner in the world, the Queen Mary 2. “I have been a Sundance auction team captain for more years than I can remember,” says Auction chair Natalie Moss. ”Every year as I log in the close to 500 items, I am always impressed by the generosity of our wonderful community and area businesses. We receive over 150 gift certificates from area restaurants and stores as well as collectibles, original art, exotic vacations and cruises, antiques, and always some quirky items that cause lots of excitement at the auction. Last year we had a handcrafted full-sized mermaid. Over the years we've had a mounted deer head, a mink stole, a selection of 1950s pill-box hats, and even a Rolls Royce. I never know what is going to show up.”
Glen Pruitt, Maureen Keenan, and Sondra Arkin write the descriptions for the hundreds of silent auction items. “I enjoy it because we work in pop references, silly puns, and the occasional reference to my favorite pop singer in our writings,” says Pruitt. “Finding the description that mentions Debby Boone is Sundance's version of the Where's Waldo? books! .... Every year I am amazed by the wonderful variety of items we get for the auction—and the incredible generosity of the people and businesses who donate them.”
The second night of the event, Sunday, September 4, from 8 p.m.-2 a.m., is the dance party the event is named for. Internationally known DJ/remixer Joe Gauthreaux hand-picks contemporary progressive tunes and provides his own original content. "Sundance is always one of my favorite end of summer events,” says Gauthreaux. “I love seeing all the Philly and DC boys come down, plus Rehoboth is such a magical setting! The vibe for this event is always fun and I play more classics than usual which the crowd seems to love." As one of the most sought-after DJs in the industry, Gauthreaux adds to the excitement of Sundance. “For me as a DJ, it's about bringing people together and tapping into emotions,” he says. “When I say emotions, that doesn't necessarily mean every song will make you think or be deep in meaning. Tribal rhythms stir up emotions, but so do meaningful vocals or powerful chords and melodies. I try to strike a balance in my set, but there always has to be some emotional core for me because otherwise what's the point?” Gauthreaux’s 2014 single “Bye Felicia,” featuring Mitch Amtrak, reached number five on the Billboard Dance Chart.
The lighting for Sundance will again be provided by renowned lighting designer Paul Turner. Turner is a touring entertainment lighting director and moving light programmer, who has handled lighting design for theatre, concerts, television, holiday spectaculars, military shows, and sporting events. He is currently lighting director for Robin Thicke.
The Rehoboth Mall will serve as a blank canvas for the creative Sundance production team, who are looking forward to transforming the sparse utilitarian space into a spectacular entertainment venue filled with color, lights, flowers, and music. The team is enjoying the challenge of coming up with innovative ways to incorporate the mall’s atrium, concourse, and empty store spaces for each night’s event.
Hundreds of Sponsors, Supporters, and Hosts, make Sundance possible every year. This year’s Diamond Sponsors for Sundance include Accent on Travel, Dos Locos Fajita and Stonegrill Restaurant, Double L Bar, Ketel One, Signarama, the Cordish Company, and The Sea Bova Associates. Gold Sponsors are CIO Federal IT, Maplewood Dental Associates, Morris-James LLP, Move2Rehoboth.com—Karen Gustafson, REALTOR, and Outlet Liquors.
The Sundance event began in 1988, inspired by the need to do something in response to the growing AIDS epidemic and the terrible devastation it was causing. Funds raised by the benefit went toward education and health services in the Rehoboth community. In the 28 years since the first Sundance, the event has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars, first for AIDS and later for the wellness of the entire community.
Sundance continues to raise much-needed funds for CAMP Rehoboth, an organization that operates a full-service community center; offers a variety of activities, cultural events, service projects, and educational programs; and advocates for a community of inclusion in Rehoboth Beach.
Tickets for Sundance 2016 are available on the CAMP Rehoboth website. All proceeds from Sundance 2016 will benefit CAMP Rehoboth (a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation) serving the area, and support the activities and programs it provides to the Rehoboth community. For more information, go to
Deep in the Heart of Sundance 2016
At the heart of Sundance, there is an amazing group of Team Captains who pull the event together. Several of them were quoted in the article on this page. Here are a few more of their comments about Sundance 2016:
“I can't change the world nor can I help everyone, however, I can do something. As a matter of fact, everyone can do something. My something is to volunteer for CAMP Rehoboth and Sundance.”—Dana Luigard
“The week preceding Sundance, more than any other time of my year, is a kind of mindful meditation. We are very focused on the job at hand while being open to the other people around us. We try to treat everyone with kindness, as we all work toward the same goals. We are careful and focused. While we work (for me the 20th year preparing the auction), we laugh more than anything, we catch up on an entire year, often we cry, but always our hearts are full of love. We love the moments. We love the beats. We love the dance, which is just the cherry on top.”—Sondra Arkin
“We like talking to people on the beach who either don't know what CAMP Rehoboth is or didn't realize how Sundance supports CAMP because they didn't know that the two were connected. Each year we meet some people who are surprised that a small beach town has such an active LGBT community group and/or that the Convention Center [with the exception of of this year’s event] that's tucked back from Rehoboth Avenue becomes a dance venue for nearly 1000 people every year!”—Michael Fetchko and Keith Petrack