Who knew throwing a party for 130 parents could be so much fun? What started out as an excuse to dance together turned into a meaningful, cohesive event, with a much deeper message about the true spirit of social inclusion.
It all started last May at the school auction when, drunk from the excitement of having accidentally bought 2 cows and sobered by the realization that i'd have to tell my vegetarian wife about it in a few days, I got onto the dance floor and discovered that school parents like to dance. Together. Beyond all the lovely little and big events we participate in to support our little ones, we crave the chance to drop our proprieties and role-modelness and just have fun with one other, relate as adults.
So why wait until the next annual auction? The idea of reinventing the Vancouver Waldorf school's wild, fun parents' talent night suddenly made sense. Not only could we grown-ups cut loose and enjoy ourselves twice a year, but I could repeat the story that earned my unsuspecting wife the nickname "Peaches."
But when it became a fundraiser for the school's Social Inclusion initiative, the even suddenly became More. Not only did it give parents that extra incentive to spend their $15 on a ticket; it gave a deeper meaning to everything.
In the name of social inclusion, 10 wonderfully diverse parent acts emerged, and it didn't matter how professional they were: they were part of the show. In the name of social inclusion, 3 donated dinners were auctioned off in which the winners would come to the house of the donor to enjoy a meal and getting to know one another better. In the name of social inclusion, 10 "ordinary housewives" transformed into singing divas and dancing delights, unleashing new sensuality and creativity way beyond the bounds of any school parking lot chatter.
And most significantly, in the true spirit of social inclusion, it stopped being the Rick Show. Volunteers came out of the woodwork to run the bar, make food, design posters, sell tickets, arrange sound and lights. Eric gently let me know that a stage manager is essential to running a show and offered his expertise. Help I didn't even know I needed emerged and we worked together to put on a tight, professional show.
Rather than vainly try to recruit a clean-up crew, I trusted the good will of the community, and as usual they rose to the occasion. As the post-show dance rave finally started to slow, a new dance emerged in which people would drift from the dance floor and boogie out to the kitchen with a handful of wine glasses, then slide back onto the dance floor again. In and out we wove, blowing candles and busting moves, seamlessly and unimposed. We were all of us cleaning, all of us dancing, with no distinction. Socially inclusive clean-up.
I thought the best gift I could give to the school would be an event with no committees; an event that I just magically conjured and ran without tapping the energies of the already over-tapped parent body. Turns out, the best gift was creating a space for the creative energies of other parents to come together and create a fabulous new tradition.
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