“You know I know how / To make ‘em stop and stare as I zone out.” The music pounded through the room as the rapper Flo Rida expounded on his awesome presence, and 100 people “raised the roof” in a dance move choreographed by Cary Arnold. If you think this sounds like an odd scene for the annual Davis Chamber of Commerce Installation Dinner, you don’t know Cary Arnold. Last Friday Cary, editor of Davis Life Magazine and Director of Marketing and Agents Services for Coldwell Banker Doug Arnold Real Estate Inc., was installed as the new Davis Chamber of Commerce President, and during the dinner she really “shook things up.” Cary asked me to be a part of her plan to liven up the evening, and now being in the habit of saying yes to things, plus the fact that she is my boss, resulted in me agreeing to dance in front of some of the most important people in Davis.
If you have never heard of a flash mob dance, it is a pre-choreographed dance that takes place in a public place amongst people who are unaware of what is going on. Cary knew that organizing a flashmob dance to happen during her speech would surprise her guests, add some excitement to the evening, and give Davis a glimpse of what it’s in for with her in the president’s chair.
She hired Brian Runstrom, a professional director and choreographer, and Tony Rego, a professional videographer, to make the dance happen. Rose Chelowinski, who owns Swim America, offered her recreation room at the swim school for the rehearsals, and Cary recruited 40 UC Davis dancers and 40 important members of the Davis community, including the mayor, the mayor pro tem, a Yolo County supervisor, a school board trustee, the Fire Chief, and many others, to secretly learn a dance to be performed at the end of the dinner.
We met to rehearse four times during the two weeks leading up to the dinner, practicing the dance until it was perfect. Brian was infinitely patient with all of us non-dancers, and even as I turned the wrong direction and stepped on someone’s foot for the twelfth time, I was having fun. I had been nervous to participate in an event with so many Davis notables and no one I knew, but people were very friendly and everyone took the dance lightheartedly, so that I instantly felt comfortable at the first rehearsal.
As the big night approached, I began planning out my outfit. I had to look nice, so as not to stand out from the crowd in the ballroom at the UC Davis Activities and Recreation Center (ARC), where the dinner was being held, but I also had to be able to run through tables, jump over extended legs, and crouch down on the floor at one point. Practicality won out, and I chose nice jeans and flat black shoes. I hadn’t been nervous when I arrived at the ARC, but while waiting in the hallway around the corner from the ballroom, trying to look as if all 40 of us had just happened to gather in a recreation center in fancy clothes for no reason, nerves slowly crept up on me. Finally, while standing by the door, ready to run into the room on the first notes of the song, I became worried that I would trip over someone’s foot, that I would turn the wrong way, or that my shoes would fly off and I wouldn’t be able to retrieve them until the end of the dinner. At the last second, I kicked my shoes off in the hallway, and danced into the room in stockinged feet.
The annual Davis Chamber of Commerce Installation Dinner is full of awards and speeches, and Cary’s last speech, in which she outlined her goals for the year while simultaneously cracking up her guests (I could hear the laughter from the hallway), was the cue for the dance. At her words, “I plan on shaking things up a bit,” the song “Club Can’t Handle Me” by Flo Rida began to play, and over 40 UC Davis students and others, including myself, ran into the room, waving our arms and dancing among the tables. We danced the pre-rehearsed routine for approximately a minute, and then the Davis community members who knew the dance, who were seated all around the room, rose and began to join in. The looks of astonishment and amusement on everyone’s faces, from Cary’s family to the spouses of the dancing community members, was the best part. I had planned to stick a smile on my face and keep it there for the full two minutes, but it honestly didn’t need sticking because I was having so much fun that I grinned for the full two minutes that the dance lasted, and continued to grin well after the dance was over. Running all over a ballroom with people I had just met in the last two weeks, watching the shock and enjoyment on the dinner guests’ faces, and dancing more exuberantly than I have done since I was six years old, was definitely the best Friday night that I have had in a while.
Please watch the great video that the videographer, Tony Rego, put together: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hL5vkXI1EAw