This past weekend was the annual NCC barn dance. This is an event my family and I, and often friends have been attending for the past 5 years or so. Or rather hoping to attend, since due to Covid it was not held the last 2 years. This event raises money for the Northeastern Cave Conservancy to help them acquire and maintain caves in this area. So if nothing else, it’s a good cause.
But it’s more than that, it’s a lot of fun. As a fund raiser, it is important to attract a good crowd of people. I also like to think longer term and realize that as many of us local cavers age, we need to draw in more younger folks to the community and this has been a great way to do so.
I think it was 4 years ago that I first mentioned it at an RPI Outing Club meeting. I initially received the response I expected, “oh look at this old guy trying to get us to a square dance. Man he’s the one that’s square.” (ok, I realize no one uses the term “square” in that sense these days, but it works here, go with it.) But I figured even if just 2-3 students showed up that would be good. The night before the dance, I stopped by the ROC “Pit” (equipment room) and checked to see how many would be going. I was told the number was up to 14. I was very impressed, but honestly a bit skeptical they’d all show up.
Well the next night at the dance, sure enough 4 cars full of RPI students showed up. One was very excited too after she won a door prize (with your entry you get one raffle ticket. You can buy more if you want and your budget allows.)
A year rolled around and again in the fall I announced the barn dance at a meeting. Again I got a few eye rolls and the like. These stopped immediately as soon as one of the students who had danced the previous year said, “Oh, you have to go, it’s a lot of run, really!” I forget how many showed up that year, but it was was probably in the 20s.
Of course the last two years there was no square dance. But again I gamely announced it at a meeting this year and at the Orientation to Cave Rescue last weekend. Well this year exceeded all expectations. 35 students from RPI showed up. Plus, by my account at least 3-4 recent alumns, plus 4 alumns with families (including me and my family).
Several of the students won raffle prizes and they all appeared to have fun, which of course made me and the organizers happy.
As I said above, the money the dance raises goes to a good cause, but the event is a good thing for another reason: it helps sustain a community.
Oh one last tidbit on “how things have changed.” After the dance was over, I caught a number of the students apparently exchanging links and the like using their phones.