November 21, 2005
On the day that all that’s left of your Thanksgiving meal is cold turkey and a few sweet potatoes minus the marshmallow topping, and after spending the morning and afternoon watching college football or braving the crowds at the malls, depending on your preference, there was always one constant that night – the Laconian Dance. For 70 years now, or at least for the last 25 years or so that we can remember, the Laconian Society of Washington, DC, has had their annual dance on the Friday night after Thanksgiving, simply known to those in the know as “The Laconian”. (Conversely, the “Baltimore Laconian,” as far as we know, was on the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving, and from what we understand, these were two very different events, but with our apologies to Baltimore, this article will be about the DC Laconian.) Over the last few years, attendance at this event in general, but particularly among the young adults in the area, has dwindled to undoubtedly an all-time low last year. (There’s a reason we didn’t even bother to take pictures this last time around.) It’s this trend that sparks this unsolicited attempt to put the word out to the young adults who are planning on being in town over Thanksgiving to return to The Laconian and put this event back on the map as the must-attend event of the fall.
Before launching into an epistle on why the survival of The Laconian as a viable young adult event is imperative to the Greek community in DC as we know it, a few disclaimers. First, the Laconian Society of Washington, DC in no way commissioned this article. Yes, they approached us about a simple banner ad, but outside of that, the views expressed here on DCGreeks.com are solely those of The Guys @ DCGreeks.com. Besides, we joke around here often that our endorsement of any particular event is the kiss of death and that even mentioning The Laconian on the site this week will ensure that no young adults attend this year. Second, we are not Laconians. (Laconia encompasses Sparta and the surrounding areas.) But that’s never stopped us and nor should it stop anyone from attending this event. (It’s the 21st Century and the Greek community in DC isn’t big enough for the city-state mentality of our ancestors to still exist.) So the only agenda we have in promoting this event is that we don’t want to see the relevance of a venerable DC Greek institution lose its relevance to several generations of Greek young adults.
For years The Laconian was the best and in some cases the only way the Maryland and Virginia Greeks ever met and spent any time together. Half the tables, and consequently half the room, would be populated by Greeks from Virginia, and the other half would be from Maryland. (We never knew exactly where those who actually lived inside the District were supposed to sit.) It was the DC Greek community’s version of the Montagues and the Capulets where area codes and which side of the bridge one lived on defined your identity and who you should or could be seen talking to that evening. Still it was this intriguing mix that led to the start of serious relationships, engagements, and eventually marriages in our community. (There are more than a few couples who either met, were set up to meet, and even got engaged at The Laconian – ok, not the same Laconian – Greek-Americans believe in short courtships, but not that short.) It was a reunion every year, because no matter where life took people, they would always come back on Thanksgiving weekend to spend time with their families and everyone else at The Laconian. Since it was on the holiday, it ensured that almost everyone there was local to the area. Everyone had a back-story, a connection to someone in the room, and those who didn’t were deemed the most fascinating person there. It was for whatever reason, the one event where one would be guaranteed to meet the girl or guy of their dreams, every year, without fail, and sometimes it would actually be the same person from one year to the next.
There’s absolutely no reason why The Laconian should not be overflowing with young adults. At $25 a ticket, it’s the most egalitarian of all the regional societies events, which is fitting considering the primarily Spartan sponsorship. There’s no dinner and no need to even sit at a table, although the latter is provided. Particularly when the event used to be held at the lavish and spacious McLean Hilton, it was the largest young adult cocktail party with a live Greek band as background music in the DC area. No matter if you’re into Greek dancing or not, this is the place to see and be seen on the Friday night after Thanksgiving, and you can have a great time because there should be plenty of others there who will share your preference for dancing, drinking or both. Albeit this year’s event is overwhelmingly Maryland-friendly, with its location in Greenbelt, but this should ensure a different mix of people, those who may have not wanted to trek out to Tysons Corner last year.
For those who will be in town on Friday night and are still on the fence about attending this year’s Laconian, check out coverage from prior years. If you see someone you know or would like to know, chances are they’ll be back again this year. If you’re new to the area, don’t hesitate to come because they’ll be plenty of young adults there without their parea or that after spending all day with their families on Thanksgiving, may be just be looking for someone else to talk to that night.
Past Laconian Dance Coverage on DCGreeks.com