Saturday, December 26, 2009

Reunited, and it Feels So Good

I blame facebook. Being middle aged seems to be defined by the growing number of reunions held and attended, at least for me. One of my high school friends thinks that facebook itself is a constant, ongoing reunion.

Even before facebook put me back in touch with literally hundreds of people from my past, I went to an amazing Disney Entertainment reunion a few years ago. It was like dying and going to heaven when I walked into the event. I felt like I was seeing actual celebrities - so many people that were famous (and infamous!) in our own little backstage bubble of our theme park years in the mid-eighties. There were Character Department friends, and parade dancers, and float drivers, wardrobe and wig people, union dancer-singers from the stage shows, not to mention various stage managers, directors, and choreographers.

It was a surreal evening, and unforgettable.

It was after that first Disney reunion that facebook became a catalyst for others. Earlier this year I had a memorable week in England with the dancers from my first cruise ship job, thanks in part to facebook reuniting us - yet again - online. And it's thanks to facebook that I will soon be seeing a dear group of friends I used to perform with in a dinner theater (in the photo above). The social networking site has also reconnected many of the performers that had worked together at the Ocean Dome theme park in Japan. Our reunion is slated for next July.

Why do I enjoy attending these reunions so much? What makes everyone else so mutually enthusiastic about showing up? We certainly weren't happy all of the time while working with each other. Many of us were homesick when we were away on a cruise ship or in Japan. Sometimes, conflicts would flare up among cast members, off stage and in the dressing room. Oh, the drama!

But it's no coincidence that my favorite reunions are all from performing days (I don't even attend my high school reunions, anymore). There was always music, and I associate the good times with very specific songs. With Disney, of course, there were the parades. I can now relive the 30th Anniversary parade or the Blast to the Past parade via youtube. When I think about cruise ship days, I think about dancing in such favorite numbers as "This Joint is Jumping" and "Hot! Hot! Hot!" Dancing behind Donna Kay as she sang "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" is one of the stand out memories from our dinner theater revues.

Hearing the music, even when just playing back the tapes of my memories in my mind, brings back a lot, both the good and the bad. We were young, and sometimes we made foolish choices. But we could escape whatever was going on in our lives at the moment, while on stage, and for a few minutes we were able to be genuinely happy.

There was often an endorphin rush for me, physically and emotionally, while I was singing and dancing in a dinner theater, or on board a ship, or in Japan. And it is for that specific reason I attend these reunions and why I look forward to the next one. To recall and recapture those happy feelings with friends, and to laugh over memories we haven't thought about in years - that's a pretty good resource to have in life.

(Special thanks to Miss JAM for encouraging to blog about this topic.)