See You in September
There’s something incredibly bittersweet about Sundance. On one hand, it’s all parties, all weekend long, which really shouldn’t provoke bittersweet. Add to that, nothing says bittersweet less than a drag queen volleyball game. And yet…
Perhaps the bittersweet comes from knowing we are marking another summer’s end. And that is something the partying doesn’t quite mask completely.
We’re creatures of habit and we’ve been trained to know this from a young age: Summer is when bedtimes were relaxed. Some of us go away to summer camps; some of us play tag on front lawns and run bases in the streets.
Red light, green light…one, two, three!
Everything about summer is outdoors, even our food. Barbecues, crab feasts, even luaus all take place outside in yards and parks. Picnic baskets get filled with food to be spread on blankets strewn across sandy beaches. There’s nothing quite like that crunch of grit in your sammie.
It’s all musical ice cream trucks with their cones with sprinkles or jimmies guaranteed to melt before you can lick it all. It’s Italian ices in paper cups, leaving remnants on your face, your hands, and your shirt.
And the smells! It’s burgers grilling and that orange-scented island gel guaranteed to give you a St. Tropez tan. It’s the summer breeze mixing it all with the salty smell of the beach.
There’s so much magic in the time we spent building tree houses, roller skating or roller blading, and, for some lucky people, packing up the car and journeying to the closest shore.
And I think summers in Rehoboth keep that childhood wonder alive. For some of us, it’s bringing our children to the beach; for some of us it’s extra Fridays off; but for all of us who journey into town, it’s the sights and smells and pizza and fries and ice cream cones on the boardwalk.
It’s both hopscotch and scotch-hops, a frenzy of festivity mixed with beach reads, summer tunes, and fruity drinks.
And then, almost unexpectedly, comes that weekend when someone goes out and physically draws a line in the sand. Suddenly Sundance is here, a volleyball is spiked, and we become Julius Caesar crossing the Rubicon river, knowing we have just entered the rapids on our way to another summer ending.
You get to be the monkey in the middle!
I still remember the first time I saw our drag volleyball game. I can’t tell you all the details of the amazing song and dance numbers, but I can safely say the appearance of Maria, coming over the dunes, guitar suitcase in hand, tumbling her way into the loving arms of the Von Tramp family made quite the impression.
But you know what else made as much of an impression? The thousands of people ringing the drag queen volleyball tournament, laughing, and cheering them on, celebrating everything about Rehoboth Beach that makes it special and wonderous.
For this isn’t a bunch of queers watching a bunch of drag queens play in some shuttered off, ghettoized portion of the beach. Nope. This is front and center, a Poodle Beach extravaganza for everyone. And by everyone, I mean everyone. The crowd includes families and friends and foes, old and young, all hooting and hollering, sharing their end of summer in an unbridled display of joy for the spectacle of it all.
Marking the end of a season together, in the best way possible, laughing out loud in the sunshine, is just right.
Tag! You’re it!
And maybe that’s also why we, the LGBTQ community and our allies, embrace Sundance so mightily, so fervently. Maybe it’s because we need Sundance. We need to celebrate who we are, where we are, and oh, what a summer we’ve had.
Just maybe, way back when, over 30 years ago, when Steve Elkins and Murray Archibald decided to celebrate 10 years together by having a party to raise money to fight AIDS, they found us an answer we all didn’t even know we needed.
We mark our end of summer with the Sundance Auction and Two-for-One Dance, by giving back to the place, the people, and the passion that is our town of Rehoboth Beach. And we know that by celebrating this season’s end, we help ensure that next year, when summer rolls around, CAMP Rehoboth will be here, working hard, to welcome us all back.
Simon Says…Bid High! ▼
Stefani Deoul is a television producer and author of the award-winning YA mystery series Sid Rubin Silicon Alley Adventures, with On a LARP and Zero Sum Game.