Fun Comes with a Convention

ACORN International Canada

Oshawa           In ACORN Canada’s convention, for the members, “Sunday is their fun day.”  The afternoon was spent door knocking in Oshawa’s neighborhoods and getting petition signatures to support the housing demands that will be part of the coming actions.  More than 600 were gathered in a matter of hours.  When everyone returned, it was time to prepare for the much awaited evening sessions, labeled a “gala banquet” on the agenda.

Most of the members dress up in one way or another, but after dinner first comes business, as always in ACORN events.  There was a video from the head of the National Democratic Party (NDP), a frequent guest in recent years.  Another expression of support and solidarity came from the head of the Canadian Labour Congress, the national workers’ federation, long an ally.  There was rip-roaring speech from the head of the Ontario NDP.  Her call for more affordable housing brought everyone to their feet in applause.  The members enjoyed hearing from the head of ACORN in England and a short clip of 20th anniversary birthday greetings from many of ACORN International’s affiliates around the world.  Marva Burnett then made remarks and narrated a PowerPoint that updated all of the members about ACORN’s work around the world, its various projects, expansion program, and more ,which excited the members.

The meal was hearty.  The speeches were serious.  Then comes the fun, and everyone was ready.  First a longtime, Toronto member won the $500 raffle to everyone’s delight and had to be hustled from outside, where she had gone to have a smoke.  Raffle ticket sales had financed many a member’s trip to Oshawa, so it worked out well.

The highlight was the fashion show.  Some history should come first.  In the US and its many conventions, there was a banquet and speeches, just like this one, and there would be a band or DJ.  Many ACORN Canada conventions had followed a similar routine.  In a surprise at the last convention, Alejandra Ruiz, now the chair in Canada, had called for a fashion show, which turned out to be hilarious and a crowd favorite.  This time it was on the agenda, and, boy, were the members ready to rock.

The music started, and Alejandra announced the location of the “runway” in front of the stage. At first, she asked for five participants, but suddenly there was a line of fifty or more snaking down the floor of people ready to strut their stuff.  Where sometimes the dancing in old conventions was a little stilted like bad high school sock hops, this one brought the house down, because all of the members, long versed in tv-fashion shows, put on the dog.  They shimmied, shaked, twirled, and danced in their outfits.  One wore a diving mask.  Others wore the finery from their home countries.  People laughed, watched on their feet, and applauded every participant, old and young.

As Emma Goldman famously counseled, she didn’t want a revolution if there wasn’t dancing.  In ACORN’s new revolution, there will be dancing, it turns out, and our people will be dressed to the nines.