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2,200 for 24
rises for Dancin’ despite
Cleveland--It was all about bodies moving on August 24, whether in front the DJ stage, on the performance stage, astride a mechanical bull or wrestling around in a kiddie pool of lube.
The 24th anniversary of Dancin’ in the Streets, and the fourth time it was held on Clifton Blvd., saw a small spike in attendance, but it also witnessed the introduction of a second stage for live performances and an increased outreach to the lesbian community.
For the first two hours of the fundraiser for the AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland, the beer truck was staffed by volunteers from the Nickel, one of two remaining women’s bars in Cleveland.
That opening slot also saw an abbreviated show by Robin Stone and her band, which was cut short by 15 minutes of medium-strength rain that sent vendors scurrying to protect merchandise, leaflets and themselves from the sudden downpour.
However, unlike at Cleveland Pride last June, the storm passed quickly, leaving the rest of the day sunny and blazingly hot.
The rain also did not stop DJ Doug Burkart, who was spinning on a covered platform set up in the middle of Clifton.
Continuing the music, a stellar local line-up including Dwreck, DJ Debi, Jerry Szoka, Rob Black, Bob Ganem and Robin Harris kept the music going through the day into the nighttime hours.
Over on the performance stage, Mandy Merlot emceed the show, which featured drag kings and queens and fetish models.
“Figures aren’t totally in, tickets haven’t been fully counted, but I would safely say we had about 2,200 people this year,” said David Peifer of Club Cleveland. He is one of the people who saved the event from extinction three years ago when the AIDS Taskforce said they would no longer produce it after the 20th anniversary one.
“I thought on the whole, it was fun, it was outrageous, it was crazy, as Dancin’ should be,” Peifer noted. “It’s not just a fundraiser but a way to thank the community for supporting the AIDS Taskforce.”
He noted the efforts of John Katsaros, the owner of Twist next to the festival and one of the other people who brought the event back from the brink, saying he “couldn’t have done it without him.”
The dynamic duo were aided by a corps of volunteers, headed up by Vicci Simpkins and Larry Parsons.
“Dancin’ couldn’t be in existence without their coordinating efforts,” Peifer noted.
He also pointed to Keith Madden, who organized the fetish show, and Patti Harris, owner of the Nickel.
Peifer also commended the performances of the Cleveland Kings, He Said She Said, Hareem Shareem and the Rubber City Bombshells.
Hareem Shareem, who performed eastern belly-dances on the performance stage during the afternoon, “mesmerized the crowd at the end of the night with their flame dancing. It was just gorgeous.”
Next year, he believes, will really be the one to watch, since Dancin’ will be celebrating its 25th anniversary. It will be a massive party, but one with a slightly bitter aftertaste.
“In a time when the economy is really, really tough, it was emotional to see so many people come out for an important cause, a cause that’s still not going away, unfortunately,” Peifer concluded.
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