Out of Town is In Bounds
November 22, 2004
YAL Washington, DC Weekend and Thanksgiving weekend highlight what’s unique about the Greek-American Community in DC and other communities around the country. Greek-Americans are one of the few ethnic-American groups that literally lives or dies by annual pilgrimages to other parts of the country to meet people. Almost every Greek-American, particularly those that are single, thinks that their community is too small to meet anyone. If you doubt that statement, see how many people from larger Greek communities like Chicago, New York, or Boston came to YAL Weekend hoping to meet someone. (Unfortunately sometimes perception becomes reality even in a place where you’re tripping over Greeks at every corner.) This phenomenon is particularly amplified in DC because it is such a transient place. So many Greek-Americans come here for work or school that on a weekend like Thanksgiving they are very likely to be going back home. It works in reverse as well, with all the young Greeks who are actually from here, but have gone away to school, coming back for long weekends as well.
Regional and National conventions like YAL Washington, DC Weekend exist to benefit and as such depend on the out-of-towners. For those of us who were from DC we couldn’t really keep up with the pace of non-stop events from Thursday night to Monday afternoon. Living in the host city of one of these conferences helps the locals in terms of not having to spend money on airfare and lodging and not having to pack four to five outfits (and that’s if you’re a guy), and have to share a hotel room with one or two of your closest or not-so-closest Greek friends. The disadvantage to being home for one of these weekends is the temptation, but more often the requirement to live your secular non-Greek life. On Sunday night of YAL Weekend for example, noticeably absent was the DC/Baltimore crowd, most of whom decided it wasn’t worth it to come out to an event that optimistically would start at 10:30 due to Greek time, when they’d have to be up to go to work the next morning. The year before when Monday was Veterans Day and a day off for many, the Sunday night event was packed. Sometimes its almost worth the extra time and expense to go away for one of these conferences because your committed to leaving the non-Greek world behind and just enjoying yourself and taking full advantage of every event.
Thanksgiving weekend in DC, particularly with the Laconian Dance, makes it seem that the Greek young adult population in DC has doubled. You get the college kids returning and those who have family in the area but have gone off to other places for work after school. The Laconian Dance is unique in who it attracts. Those young adults who would never see themselves at a Greek Night or feel that they are too old to go to Greek Nights will still come to the Laconian Dance because they’ve been coming to it for years. Those who might go to Greek Nights but who couldn’t tell you what YAL stands for also come to the Laconian Dance for the same reason. (What the Laconian Dance needs more of is the people who stay in town who weren’t able to go home and be with their families for Thanksgiving.) And after spending all of Thanksgiving Day with their families, many of these young adults are ready and willing to meet anyone new. Thus many long distance relationships start at the Laconian Dance, particularly among those who return to the area from suffering from Greek community withdrawal. If the visitor is to return from college in less than month, the maneuvering becomes how to keep them interested throughout exams to see Christmas and New Years Eve. Because New Year’s Eve, if it happens to fall close enough to a weekend to make it feasible, is the next traveling holiday that brings people back to DC.
We wish everyone who is traveling to or from DC or anywhere else this week a happy and safe trip. If you’re in DC this weekend, drop by the Laconian Dance on Friday night and check our Events Calendar to see if something else pops up.