Submitted by Dela Taylor
The night of Thursday, April 21, 2016 hosted the best blind date in recorded history.
One hundred and twenty three people filled the State Street Church in Portland to test the space for what we hoped would become a new weekly Portland Intown Contra Dance series. The result? Oh, man: love!
What happened that night? Sassafras Stomp (including John Pranio) provided the music, Dugan Murphy called half of the evening and I called the other half, and one hundred and eighteen dancers made the space glow with happiness. Our volunteers helped it all happen: Jonathan Freedner set up the hall and made it orderly; Jamie Oshima made the band sound great; Naomi Marthai took photos; Shea Murphy of Fat Sheamus Productions took video; and Jesse Vear, Lily Kapiloff, Nancy Kierstead, and Marie Duryea made everyone feel oh-so-welcome as they came in. Many others contributed their thoughts and energy in anticipation of the dance, and we're grateful for how all of these contributions came together for an unforgettable evening.
The crowd was a mix of regular dancers from Maine, new dancers, folks who had danced in the past and were coming back to contra because they heard of the event on Facebook or from friends, and people who came to town from out-of-state just to support this developing adventure. A few people reminisced with us about the contra dances that used to happen in the same space years ago and were really excited about the prospect of a weekly dance.
What about the future?! This series is headed toward the altar with State Street Church! We're currently negotiating rent and working out the issues with the space to improve sound and temperature. Should all go well, within a few weeks, we'll be booking weekly dances that will start this Summer. (I know! This Summer!!)
To stay in the loop on the progress of this dance - and be invited to the next one: Sign up for the mailing list on this website or join our Facebook group. To find our group on Facebook, simply search for "Portland Intown Contra Dance" and request membership. We'll add ya in a jiffy.
How can you get involved now? David and Callie Chase, Cary and David Walker, Matteo Paris, Marie Duryea, Joyce Menges and Steve Raymond have all donated generously to help PICD establish itself. Because of them, we have this awesome website for a year, a relationship with the Country Dance and Song Society (CDSS), insurance for the year, and non-profit status. Gratitude is oozing from our pores for these lovely people and their gifts. Please help us thank them with mountains of hugs and high fives.
We still have costs associated with the series, like fans, name-tags, and other supplies, and we have a wild pipe-dream for a sound system we can leave in the space. We welcome your tax-deductible donations, which will earn you oozing gratitude, mountains of hugs and high-fives, and lots of other recognition. :)
PICD is also welcoming volunteers and serendipitous somethings. If you have a contribution you'd like to make, like donations of buttons from your cousin's button factory, serving as Keeper of the Mailing List, volunteering at a single dance, or planning funky contra flash-mobs to promote the dance, for instance, just let us know.