Greetings to all of my faithful readers. I hope that you are all well and doing your best to stay healthy. This edition of the History Corner focuses on what we were doing in the second half of 1984. As I had written in probably my first post, I joined the chorus in July 1984 after seeing the chorus in the SFGMC's Pride Concert at Nourse Auditorium. All of us in the San Francisco gay musical community heard that Jon Reed Sims, the founder of the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Marching Band & Twirling Corps and SFGMC and LGCSF, had died of complications due to AIDS on July 16. Of course, throughout the 1980s we all would lose friends and lovers as a result of this disease and we would attend too many memorial services as we honored the lives of our loved ones.
Because of his inspiration, we now have queer marching bands and choruses all over the world. The memorial service for Jon Sims was held at Grace Cathedral on August 3 and this was the first time I sang with the chorus as part of this service. We sang "Soon-ah Will be Done" and "Elijah Rock." I attached photos of the cover of the program and the article in the Bay Area Reporter about Jon's life.
I have also included a photo of a recruitment flyer and one for a benefit for LGCSF at Buckley's Bistro & Bar which was at 131 Gough Street.
There is a photo of the program of our "Lullaby of Broadway" concert held on November 3 which I described in detail in a past History Corner. A week later we were guests of the Freedom Band in their "Hollywood Canteen" show at the Japan Center Theatre which was an evening of entertainment inspired by the big band era. Costumes and uniforms were encouraged, there was a Betty Grable Look Alike Contest and there were taxi dancers for hire. We ended the year as guests of SFGMC in their "Now Sing with Hearts Aglow" concert at the Nourse Auditorium on December 16 and 24. We sang "Coventry Carol," "Silent Night in Contempora," "No. 3 from Three Carols of the Season" and finished with "Twelve Days After Christmas."
Among other papers in the archives from 1984 I came across a commentary on 1984 being an important year for the chorus. We had gone through a year of searching for a new director, and we decided to leave Golden Gate Performing Arts. It was time to stabilize our membership and make our presence more widely known in the community. It was our goal to increase our membership to its former size and to follow our former schedule of four concerts and several public appearances.
1983 had taken its toll on us and we found that changes in the chorus's energy and the community interests limited the rapid expansion we had planned. We altered our approach and decided to cancel the spring concert, stabilize with a smaller membership, and place more emphasis on community appearances.
Throughout 1984 our membership averaged 35 members of which 25 were considered a solid core group. By the time we got to "Lullaby of Broadway" we were at 48 members and it was sold out and nominated for a Cable Car Award. It seemed that our community appearances were the most successful manner of recruiting new members.
In reading through the Leadsheets starting in August we had a retreat in Guerneville the last weekend of August, commitment forms were handed out to everyone to ensure that we attended rehearsals, dress rehearsals and performances for the fall season. We also held Open Forums once a month on the third Wednesday during the last half hour of rehearsal. Chorus t-shirts (5) and bow ties ($7) were on sale from our music librarian Michael Gerding. Also tapes of our "Back in Grace" concert were available for $6.25. Chorus dues were $7 per month. This August the Leadsheet had a new editor in the person of Kate Lynn. Also the chorus had a booth at the Castro Street Fair on August 19.
In the next History Corner I will be writing about the life of the chorus in the first half of 1985 and the changes that happened then. Until then please stay healthy all of you.
All my love, Michael Lucero