RACE: Talc & Ash Tailgate Party: Holly Bass|360

Organization Name: Holly Bass|360

Department Submitting Recipe: Holly Bass, Artist and Founder

City: Washington

Program Name: RACE: Talc & Ash Tailgate Party

Time of Program: Afternoon

Program Length: 1 hour

Goal: By using the ritual and culture of sporting events, we create an air of excitement about dance and lower the barriers of engagement for audiences who may not be as familiar with contemporary dance. The social media campaign, “My DC Is..” offers long-time and new residents in rapidly gentrifying communities an opportunity to express their point of views about the changes happening in DC.

Time of Year Offered: This program can be offered in the warmer months of the year: late Spring, Summer, and early Fall.

Program Description:

The RACE: Talc & Ash Tailgate party is modeled after traditional tailgate parties before sporting events, with the dance performance serving as the sporting event. The Tailgate Party is organized outdoors, near a pickup truck with its tailgate lowered. Lively music is played from the bed of the pickup truck. Food vendors share free snacks and drinks with the audience. The snacks can include cotton candy, snow-cones, Cracker-Jacks, popcorn, hot dogs, and more.

10 Superfans (volunteers and paid workers recruited beforehand who are excited about the dance performance) help facilitate the tailgate party, keeping the energy high. Superfans wear sporting paraphernalia matching the colors of the dancers costumes, and assist the audience in painting their faces and accessing the concession stands.

At the Tailgate Party, audience members are invited to participate in a social media project, #MyDCis. Audience members finish the sentence, “My DC is…” and write their answer on a small handheld whiteboard. Superfans snap a picture of each participating audience member holding their answer on a whiteboard, and upload the image to social media. A teen worker filmed the Tailgate Party using a cell phone and live streamed it for our social media followers.

Near the end of the Tailgate Party, Superfans gather the audience members and invite them to view the dance performance, concluding the party.

Number of Participants: We welcome between 100-200 participants. This program is intended for a large group.

Target Audience: The target audience for this program are long-time and newer residents in rapidly gentrifying communities.

Is the program for kids? This program is intended for all ages, for out of school. It’s primary purpose is for self expression. The program is open to the public.

Private/Public Public

Nature of Audience Engagement: The audience gets refreshments from a concession stand, and converses informally throughout the tailgate party. The audience dances to the upbeat music playing from the bed of a pickup truck. The audience socializes with other DC residents attending both the dance performance and simply coming to visit the library. Audience members provide written responses to a prompt, “My DC is…” and engage an online community by checking the hashtag #MyDCis to view their published portrait on social media. The audience modifies their appearance with face paint and sports paraphernalia. The audience views a dance performance at the conclusion of the Tailgate Party.

Location: The program takes place in public libraries, but can take place in any location open to the public.

How Many Staff: We use 10 Superfan (workers who treat the dance performance as a sporting event), and 3 teen workers to implement this program, as well as an event production manager.

Program Cost: This program was integrated into the overall performance costs for props, supplies and contracted staff, but I estimate we spent $3,500 to purchase “swag” for the fans, costuming for the superfans and assistants, food items to give away and the salaries for support staff.

Marketing for Program: The Tailgate Party is marketed on social media and through our email newsletter. The library venue promotes the Tailgate Party through their own marketing channels, including email newsletters and event calendars. On the day of the Tailgate Party, we invite all library visitors to join the party.

Cost for Program Participants: The program is free for participants.

Attendance To Date: Approximately 150 people have participated in the Tailgate Party to date.

Past Iterations: We have held 1 tailgate party.

What works? Having a large team of Superfans (a mix of volunteers and paid workers) worked perfectly. It’s better to have more hands on deck than too few. Our Superfans were genuinely enthusiastic about the performance and about Holly’s artistic vision, which was reflected in the quality of their audience engagement. We also hired a floating coordinator, who was able to move from the Tailgate Party to the performance space and back, to maintain the flow of the event.

What doesn't work? Our teen workers did a great job running the concession stand, but they need a supervisor to help troubleshoot any possible issues. Fortunately, our concession machine vendor was able to stay the entire time and supervise.

Performances Where Offered: We only offer this program directly before the RACE: Talc & Ash performance.

Past Research on Program: We collected memories from participants using the hashtag #MyDCis. From this, we were able to record stories from long-time and newer residents about their time in the District, and hear from residents of all ages and backgrounds.

Continuing Program? Yes, we plan to continue this program in the future before audience engagement performances.


Dance Affinity Groups Adults

Target Audiences Young Adults, 25-35 General Audiences

Dance 101 Participation - attending performances Participation - responding to questions, writing, giving feedback

Online Engagement In person

Social Bonding Aspects With peer audience members With other "guides" such as students, volunteers