It’s amazing what can happen when a team works together towards a shared vision. This is the story of a toastmasters conference and a drag show.
2004 – I was part of a team from Alberton Toastmasters club who were tasked to organise the main conference of the year. One of our goals was that the conference be as cheap as possible and we aimed for 500 people to attend. We also decided that the entertainment we put on would be the best, leaving people talking about it for many years after.
We called our conference Dragcon because it was initially going to be held at the Wesbank raceway in Germiston. The logo was designed, a drag racer with red and yellow flames coming out of the exhaust. Eventually this venue fell through and we moved on to another one. But the name Dragcon had stuck, and our marketing had already started.
We decided to put on a drag show as part of the entertainment. You can believe how people really talked about this afterwards. Most people thought it was a blast, but the more conservative ones were totally shocked and wrote emails of complaint afterwards. These were, fortunately, in the very minority. We had Toastmasters International’s President attending the conference, a fun Irishman, who, unsurprisingly, totally loved the show 🙂
The theme of the show was – off course – toastmasters. We sent the call out to all the clubs in the area, and the cast was entirely made up of toastmasters. Not only could they give great speeches, but they could sing and dance too. As part of the organising committee I observed all of this come together. My husband and another toastmaster took the lyrics and music of The Rocky Horror Picture Show (hope no one connected to that show is reading this), and re-did the lyrics to suit our theme. The music stayed the same but we did not use pre-recorded tracks. We had a live band on stage.
The show had everything from guys in drag (clothes and make-up), a Harley Davidson being ridden across the stage, one of our very respectable toastmasters dressed in a kilt and fishnet stockings (in a wheelchair which we donated to a needy cause afterwards) and a vampirical narrator, complete with incisors and blood-red lips.
In addition to the remade song lyrics, the script was totally original. I never knew my hubby was so talented and he was sound engineer as well and got to play with a 10-channel mixing desk he was sorry to have to let go of. He looked the part of rock-concert-sound-engineer, complete with crew cut hair and black t-shirt.
It was a riot! The audience sang along and danced (helped along by some good wine and beer). We put on 3 shows over 3 nights. It was quite a feat, I must say, to have pulled this off. And the rest of the conference too. My task was to register all 500 toastmasters, something I will not do again. We did meet out goals of having a cheap conference (with good guest speakers), we had 500 people attending and our entertainment certainly did leave people talking 🙂
We had a shared vision, a good leader who kept us focused and the energy and passion just flowed. We achieved our goals.
Nothing more has to be said…