Attendance doubles for the reborn Dancin'
Cleveland--�I thought it was terrific and it was a really nice venue for the event,� community member Cal Zunt said of Dancin� in the Streets, the fundraiser for the AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland that experienced its renaissance on August 28.
�The music was great,� she said. �The mechanical bull was a nice touch.�
Use of the bull was donated by Absolut vodka, and the $5-per-ride charge was donated to the AIDS Taskforce.
Dancin� was a dichotomy--it celebrated its 21st year and its first. The AIDS Taskforce, which had produced it, discontinued the event last year after several years of declining attendance. The final one, held at the Nautica Pavilion, was plagued by day-long rain.
However, community members including John Katsaros, owner of Twist, David Peifer of Club Cleveland and DJ Gregg Witbeck joined with Taskforce development director Judy Price to organize a new Dancin� in the Streets, returning it to its roots as a street festival and dance party.
Witbeck, who was present at the first and �last� Dancin� events, later dropped out of the organizing, his efforts commended by his peers.
The new event drew over 2,000 people to Clifton Boulevard between West 116th and West 117th Streets, about double the attendance of last year�s.
Price estimates that Dancin�, and the weekend of parties surrounding it, brought in about $40,000 for her organization. That amount is after expenses.
She points to her co-organizers as a great part of the reason for the success of the reborn festival.
�They were absolutely amazing,� she said. �What comes to mind is that they really ran Dancin� as a business and the three of us were just such a great team working together.�
�The comments that I got were that it was great that it�s back in the streets like it used to be,� said Peifer, referring to its beginnings on West 9th Street, then home to two gay bars and a bathhouse. Twist faces this year�s location, in the gay Edgewater neighborhood.
�Considering that it�s the Taskforce�s second-largest fundraiser, it�s great to see the community turn out in such large numbers,� Peifer added.
He explained why the event was so crucial to Cleveland.
�The big cities get all the money, and the second-tier, medium-sized cities like Cleveland and Columbus are feeling the crunch when it comes to AIDS funding, so it was great to see all the support,� he said.
Katsaros pointed to the involvement of Cleveland Ward 18 council member Jay Westbrook and the neighborhood organization, the Cudell Development Corporation, as major factors in pulling the event together.
�I have a longtime relationship with Cudell and with Jay Westbrook, and dealing with them was a pleasure,� he noted. �They�re very in touch with the community. Both Cudell and Westbrook are very hands-on.�
�Westbrook came to the function and brought mayoral candidate Frank Jackson with him and introduced him to people,� he continued. �They had a meet-and-greet out on the street, so it was very nice.�
Zunt summed up the success of the event.
�People who were there had a great time and word-of-mouth should increase attendance next year,� she opined.
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