Dance, and support a ultra-worthy cause

by Scott Stiffler

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Wednesday July 29, 2009

What's not to love about an event that benefits LGBT youth, elevates the sometimes dicey reputation of the NYC dance music community, offers two-for-one drink specials, and gives its organizer academic credits as well as cred?

Any one of those reasons would be enough to support Indaba Dance's upcoming benefit for NYC's ultra-worthy, uber-gay Hetrick-Martin Institute (home of the Harvey Milk High School). But put them all together, and you've got one fine reason to clear your calendar for the evening of Tuesday, August 4.

Edge recently spoke with benefit organizer Sean McMahon (the brains behind Indaba Dance) about how the event came to be and what it hopes to achieve.

Longtime New York City DJ McMahon explains the how and why of this happening (the inaugural event of what he says will be a twice-yearly occurrence, to benefit a different cause each time). "I'm taking a class at Landmark Education, and had to develop a community project," he explained. "Having recently DJ'd for a Hetrick-Martin fundraiser, McMahon was "moved by their commitment to, and work with, LGBT and questioning youth."

So when the chance came up to do some good in order to fulfill the class assignment, McMahon approached Hetrick-Martin. "It was an easy pitch. I contacted them directly and told them I wanted to organize this dance benefit-with the goal of raising $5,000 to put two kids through a year of programs at HMI."

But McMahon also had an ulterior motive: elevate the purpose of Indaba Dance's regular dance party events from simply having fun to making a difference while dancing their asses off. McMahon sees the benefit as a chance to improve the reputation of New York City's dance music community-which has had more than its share of bad press.

McMahon: "As a DJ and someone involved in NYC club scene, I see the discord between the dance community, the city and the neighborhood associations. I wanted to change how we're perceived; to show what we have to offer and put a positive spin on what we can do as a community."

To that end, McMahon notes that all talent appearing at the benefit is doing so free of charge so the full booty of proceeds goes directly to Hetrick-Martin. McMahon will DJ, and there will also be sets from Erik Reyes (of Midnight Society) and Elliot DeHoyos (of Slanted Black & Tommy Boy).

Both guest DJs, notes McMahon, are accomplished producers who play "mostly tribal and progressive house." Sets will also be performed by singers Becca Schack (whose style is "melodic and introspective") and Mykel (a performance artist "who belongs to NYC flaggers, has an outgoing style and writes very emotional songs"). The DJs and singers will alternate sets amidst a setting which "goes back to the original space where we hosted this party (Indaba) about a year and a half ago. It has a roof deck which allows you to go outside for a bit, but still have access to the dance space and enjoy the party."

Also helping you enjoy the party-two-for-one drink specials from 6 to 9 PM. When you're not imbibing or dancing, participants will be able to learn more about the work the Hetrick-Martin Institute does by stopping by a table to pick up written materials or simply schmooze with the HMI representatives. MacMahon hopes to see some of HMI's board members and deep-pocketed donors in attendance-ensuring that by benefit's end, at least two LGBTQ youth will be able to attend HMI free of charge for the next year.

For more information, visit www.myspace.com/indaba_dance. To purchase tickets in advance, www.hmi.org/indaba. The event takes place Tuesday, August 4, 6:00 PM, at Bar 13 (35 E. 13th Street, NYC). Tickets are $25. For $50, you get admission plus a mixed CD from all three participating DJs.

Scott Stiffler is a New York City based writer and comedian who has performed stand-up, improv, and sketch comedy. His show, "Sammy's at The Palace. . .at Don't Tell Mama"---a spoof of Liza Minnelli's 2008 NYC performance at The Palace Theatre, recently had a NYC run. He must eat twice his weight in fish every day, or he becomes radioactive.

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