I have a story to tell you.
That is not the story.
We were at PANMA for some brief networking and catching up with friends, but our end destination was The Trocadero, where Philly blog fixture Philebrity was holding their non-denominational X-Mas party slash year end awards.
Blame Drew’s Cancer was up for the “Outstanding Do-Gooders of the Year” award. Polling had been open and transparent, so it was easy to see that we were getting creamed by Phillies’ Shane Victorino from day one. As such, we didn’t marshal much of a vote – eventually coming in fourth, behind even Mayor Nutter for his ballsy budget bluff.
The four of us – Britt, Mikey, Libby, and I (plus Libby’s awesome husband, another Peter) rolled in to the Troc fashionably late, and occupied the “Reserved” table closest to the stage. Our innate rowdiness took over shortly, and we were hooting at the house band (shout out to BC Camplight) and yelling “Hut!”at any reference to Lady Gaga.
Okay, maybe that was just me.
Suddenly, it was time for our award category. Philebrity Captain and one of my personal Journalist heroes Joe Sweeney read down the list of nominees. When he hit #bdc we cheered, the crowd cheered for us, and he continued down the list.
End of story? Not quite.
Joey Sweeney: So, Shane isn’t here tonight, so we’re going to give this award to Blame Drew’s Cancer.
Team Blame Drew’s Cancer: ???
No, he was not joking. Suddenly we’re being gestured at and motioned towards to the stage and then we’re on the stage and then I’m hugging Joey Sweeney and then, inevitably, I am standing in front of a microphone gaping at a rather large crowd seated at round tables all Golden Globes style and I am like, omg I think now they want me to talk.
Luckily, there is video to document my surprising coherent trip through award show aphasia:
(Take note of my neck-bobbing walk down the stairs, as it figures in to the next bit pretty heavily.)
The award show pressed on, ending with Indy Hall – the host of half of the Blame-a-Thon – winning the “Best Business”award. The event closed with the house-band leading a sing- and dance-along to Wham’s “Last Christmas.” Said Joey, “Are there insurance issues with people coming up on stage to dance? No? Good.”
Me being me (and having just played a bit of “Last Christmas” last night), I was immediately dancing in my chair to the syrupy 80s Christmas ballad being unfurled on the stage. Should I have raced up on stage to sing and dance as soon as the audience was invited? Maybe, but my urge to be the center of attention doesn’t usually rear its head in rooms full of strangers, and I wasn’t sure I knew all of the words.
Happily, the choice was taken out of my hands: the entire friends-of-Phileb table had taken note of said chair-dancing, as they had also taken note of my prior neck-bobbing. I found a hand on my shoulder, and a voice in my ear:
“I know you want to dance.”
I was pulled from my chair, and Britt from hers, and we were dancing on the floor of the Troc. And then dancing up the stairs to the stage. And then dancing on stage, singing “Last Christmas” while twirling and dipping with strangers.
A pang of self-consciousness hit me as I realized I was front and center in the view of the entire Trocadero, doing the mashed potato. I made an effort to fade back into the crowd of dancers, to no avail. Edging laterally out of the spotlight (literally), I found myself face-to-face with a wide-eyed, dervish dancer with hair bigger than mine, and she was matching me move for move.
I danced the rest of the song with her, singing and laughing all the while. As we finally (mercifully) descending the stairs back to a more mortal existence on the floor level, she leaned over and said, “You should come out to the 700 Club, we’re going dancing.”
My #bdc crew was headed home at this juncture, so I was faced with a choice: end my evening and go home, or walk to a bar I’ve never been to before to hang out with people I’ve never met and keep dancing.
I considered. Why was I even at the Philebrity awards? Because of Drew, and blaming cancer. And, hadn’t the experience taught me to be the best possible me at all times? Hadn’t I jumped out of a plane with these people, still relative strangers at the time?
If I could jump out of a plane with strangers, certainly I could go dancing with strangers.
And so I did. I wandered a mile through my wind-chilled city and into a bar where I didn’t know a single person (other than the just-met Mr. Sweeney and his Managing Director Ruth Carpenter). Edging through the crowd of strangers, I spotted both the woman who pulled me up on stage (Sydney) and the whirling dervish who invited me out (Jill), and they in turn introduced me to seemingly every last person in the bar.
We proceeded to dance and laugh all night until last call, but we also talked about the friends and family who have won their battles with cancer – even though we have lost some of them to the disease.
I felt like a total Philebrity the entire time. I blame cancer.