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July 25, 2002

DCGreeks.com Year One Retrospective

Part III:  A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Having missed two grand opportunities at Beach Blast and St. Sophia's Festival to get our name out to a wider audience, we turned our attention to the next big event of the fall, DC YAL Weekend. We wanted to be a part of it someway, somehow. We initially approached the organizers of DC YAL Weekend with the idea of letting us sponsor a Bachelor/Bachelorette Auction on one of the nights during the weekend, with the proceeds directly benefiting YAL charities. This would have been a simple enough thing for us to organize. In our minds, we thought, we'd already have a bunch of young Greeks in the audience at either the Greek Night or the Dance that weekend, all we'd have to do would be to present them with a few eligible bachelors and bachelorettes for them to bid on, leading to more charitable contributions to the YALs, a higher attendance at the event, and greater name recognition for DCGreeks.com. But the organizers turned us down, citing time concerns in an already jam-packed weekend, telling us that maybe next year they'd let us do it. Afterwards we realized that it was better that we held off on sponsoring an bachelor/bachelorette auction at that time and tabled the idea for later.

Needless to say we did all we could to promote DC YAL Weekend, even if we weren't officially a part of it. We always want to see successful YAL events, because of the importance YALs serve as a transition from college to true adulthood in your thirties. We posted the weekend on our events calendar, provided reminders to people on when they could get tickets, and even hyped the Greek Night on the Friday night of the weekend, which featured Speed Dating. While not a bachelor/bachelorette auction, we were curious to see if Greeks would have the attention span for something like this at a Greek Night, where attention spans and meaningful prolonged eye contact are normally hard to come by.

The best idea we had in the fall, which was to define
DCGreeks.com, came to us a few days before YAL Weekend. We would take pictures and post them on the site. It wasn't an original idea by any means, but we what would separate us taking pictures from anyone else who tried it was quick turn around. We made it our goal to have pictures from that weekend up on Monday morning, while the memories of the weekend were still fresh in everyone's mind. The other thing we wanted to emphasize was quality. There were no bad pictures that were going to go on our site. Everyone would be in focus. Pictures would be cropped. There would be no candids, no crowd shots where you couldn't see anyone, and no red eye. We planned on buying a digital camera so we could know at the time the picture was taken if we'd have to take another one. We also wanted people to be able to see what would be on the site on Monday right as we took pictures of them.

The first night of YAL weekend was the Friday Greek Night and we were unprepared in not having gotten a digital camera. We brought with us an old camera and a mindset to take as many pictures as possible. Admittedly we were shy that first night trying to take pictures. Try explaining to a bunch of Greeks who were still weary that our site was some Medusa that you should never look at directly that they were going to be featured on their in full color, a right-click away from making it onto someone's desktop wallpaper. We started off slowly taking pictures of the people we knew, telling them what we were trying to accomplish. Some were hesitant, but most everyone we asked that night didn't mind at all. Many of our pictures that night were taken by a friend of ours who offered to take the camera off of our hands for a while, so that we could actually relax and have a good time. That didn't last too long as we noticed a lot of pictures where she was not so much the photographer, but the subject. If we had actually had a digital camera that night we may have let her go on longer, but with only so much film with us that night, we had to confiscate the camera from her. She would one day down the road end up being one of our bachelorettes and a great supporter of the auction, so we never minded the ton of pictures we gave her copies of a couple of weeks later. We walked away that night with what we thought was a good start to a weekend of pictures, and just hoped they turned out okay.

The next morning we went to the Costco and got a digital camera. We showed up to the barbecue at St. Sophia's that afternoon, but weren't inspired to take pictures during the day. That evening we ended up at the dance. We didn't take too many pictures there either, even though we both were packing a camera that evening. We tried to strike a balance between taking pictures and actually having fun at an event. This would be a conflict we would struggle with throughout the course of our first year - our desire to do things for the good of the site vs. our desire to just hang out at a Greek event and not be The Guys @ DCGreeks.com, if only for an evening. 

All in all, YAL DC Weekend was a great time for everyone who attended. Sure Speed Dating never happened at the Greek Night, but that didn't so much matter. We went to the same Costco on Sunday and got one hour processing on our rolls of film. Almost all the pictures turned out great. With the pictures we had on the digital camera we came up with over 30 pictures on Monday morning. We sent out a few emails about the fact that we had pictures to our members and to the YAL lists around town. Our hits went through the roof. We realized that people didn't care so much about our articles or about our events calendar. People just wanted to see pictures of other beautiful people they know. We would soon be accused of only taking pictures of girls, but honestly, it's hard to get a group of guys to sit still long enough at an event to take a picture. 

Our picture taking continued throughout the fall. Third Thursday helped our site immensely by providing a more casual alternative for the older segment of the young adult community. Third Thursday was a chance for young Greek professionals, and soon others, to get together, often times in bars that were relaxed enough to actually have conversations. We would meet so many people at Third Thursday who understood and appreciated what we were trying to do with the site. 

Our first big Greek Night with the camera was perhaps the biggest one of the fall, the OXI Day celebration at the Spot. This was a huge Greek Night and it was our first opportunity to really introduce the site to people from Baltimore and the Virginia Beach areas, because both were represented well. We came to realize that as much as we liked promoting alternatives to Greek Nights, that we needed Greek Nights, because when it was all said and done, there would always be Greek Nights, and people would always go, because they're there. 

The last big event of the fall was the Laconian Dance, which took place at Martin's Crosswinds in Greenbelt. It was the first time the Laconian had moved from the McLean Hilton in many years. The location diminished the number of Virginians who crossed the river to come, but it was still a decent sized crowd. With another huge decent amount of pictures, we felt good that we had done enough in the fall to promote the website and to give it a chance to maintain its momentum through the New Year. We had established the popularity of the website, but asked ourselves what we should do with this popularity. We weren't satisfied with our weekly routine of pictures, games and articles. We had the ability to use the site for some good works. All these elements would come together to inspire us to take on our largest undertaking ever, the auction.

Part I:  The Launch
Part II:  Now What?
Part III:  A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
Part IV:  Going Once, Going Twice, Sold Out
Part V:  The End


Read past feature articles.