Discovery of a Hoedown
Discovery of a Hoedown
Back in 1991, after teaching country and western dance in the gay and lesbian
community on and off for three to four years, I finally came upon a "hoedown." A friend of mine had moved and asked
me to meet him in Atlanta for Southern Country Atlanta's party. I convinced fellow South Floridians, Adria, Rebecca, and Vinny
to join me. We loaded up the car and drove 15 hours to arrive at the biggest, country western event we had ever seen. While
excited and exhilarated by the dancing camaraderie, we also found frustration when we attended the meeting. At this time, there
really was no organization. Atlanta, being host of the weekend and the oldest club there, hosted the meeting, which was really
nothing more than a listing of events of each group in attendance.
Inspiration and Vision
Having had experience with the International Association of Gay Square Dance Clubs (IAGSDC), whose history is very similar to what we were experiencing then, we had visions of what we could do if we united and worked together. We soon learned that there were others that were experiencing the same feelings, but were coming into opposition and really couldn't push forward. Human nature is to fear change and many of us have witnessed first hand the politics and games involved in structured organizations. So opposition was natural.
The Hard Work
In April of 1993, at Southern Country South Florida's Hoedown, enough interest was shown that a meeting was scheduled to put paper thoughts and guidelines for a united organization. Finally in June of 1993, in Chattanooga, TN, an "informal open discussion" was held. Those in attendance, credited for founding the IAGLCWDC, were Fred Bettin, Southern Country Charlotte; Jerry Gilbert, Southern Country Chattanooga; Jerri Goldberg, Southern Country South Florida; John Guyer, Southern Country Orlando; Ken Gunby, Southern Country Atlanta; David Kamenish, Southern Country Louisville; and Ken Stayton, Southern Country Nashville. All agreed that the main purpose of an organization would be to foster communication and networking. Other purposes were to establish an annual convention and create bylaws.
This group spent almost an entire day behind closed doors drafting proposed bylaws. Paragraph by paragraph, sentence by sentence, line by line, not a word went into this document without discussion and a vote. The group parted by setting the next informal discussion for Louisville in July 1993, with a document which we were proud of. An agreement was reached that this document would be sent (at the expense of these seven people) to every club, bar, etc. which was related to Country/Western and that we could obtain addresses. It was a good feeling of accomplishment.
Having been involved in many organizations in the past, I was amazed at the open-mindedness, objectivity, and willingness to compromise of all those involved at the meetings.
At Louisville in July 1993, the proposed by-laws were discussed. There were some minor changes made and the voting was set to take place in Atlanta the following August. There were 25 individuals representing 15 groups in attendance at the Atlanta meeting. The by-laws were accepted, officers were elected and the International Association was on its way.
Our First Annual Convention
A very successful 1st Annual Convention was held in Louisville, KY in July of 1994. The host club featured a country dance cruise on the "Belle of Louisville" historic paddle wheel boat on the Ohio River. Future Hoedowns, via a bidding system that is now in place were set for Atlanta, GA in 95; Los Angeles, CA in 96; Boston, MA in 97; Miami*, FL in 98; Toronto, Canada in 99. (*the 1998 convention was later switched to Fort Lauderdale)
A brochure has been printed for easy distribution and dissemination of information. As a reminder, every individual member of a member club, is a member of the IAGLCWDC. Get involved, hold your delegate responsible, spread the word and keep dancing!