I threw a party for the launch of DanielleDorky.com this past Saturday and it was a complete hit! The event was sponsored by Citizens of Culture Book Club and United We Function, and took place at Mandrake Bar in Los Angeles. Friends, family members, and a few unsuspecting locals showed up for a book exchange and language arts showcase featuring spoken word and acoustic music.
Mandrake Bar whipped up a delicious custom-made “Dorky” cocktail and offered it to guests for a generous Happy Hour price until 9pm. For the first hour we mingled casually and flipped through books, offering recommendations and some of us staking claim on our finds early on. I noticed my copy of The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky went missing only moments after I set it down and I quickly stored away Choke by Chuck Palahniuk for my own uses. Literary gems exchanged throughout the evening include a signed copy of Saul Williams’ collection of poems entitled She, The Autobiography of Malcolm X as told to Alex Haley, Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald and In Our Time by Ernest Hemingway.
Shortly after 8pm we began the language arts showcase. Creative Jack-of-all-Trades Youssef Grant opened the show with a moving poem about his reaction to the Egyptian Revolution in January 2012 and quickly captivated the audience with his passionate prose and easy-going stage presence.
Singer/songwriter Brandon Ingels came next, mesmerizing listeners with an as yet Untitled acoustic song dedicated to the hostess of the evening, me! He followed that with the slightly moody “Sante Fe,” leaving many of us wondering when and where we could hear the talented young musician again.
Poet and activist Danielle Bennett, who had just arrived in Los Angeles from Auckland, New Zealand the day before, closed the showcase, and immediately quieted the bar with her eloquent vulnerability, stirring emotion in us all as we meditated on her observations about love, family and God.
As the performances finished, I felt a huge rush of relief. The launch party was organized in a little over a week, and I couldn’t believe the amazing turn-out. At first I had only wanted to throw a launch party to let people know about the website and invite them to be involved, but following the event’s success, I couldn’t help wondering what I could do with more time and resources.
But I couldn’t worry about that then. All I could think about was B & R Burger Truck parked out front and the piping hot french fries that were awaiting me. DJ Merc 80 got behind the DJ booth shortly after the showcase ended, spinning an eclectic mix of current hip-hop and soulful grooves. My friends and I proceeded to dance away our remaining adrenaline, every now and then someone tapping me on the shoulder to congratulate me or ask what I have planned next. DJ Merc 80’s protege DJ Dizam graced the decks later on in the night, sending the bar into a frenzy with Beyonce’s latest hit “Drunk in Love.”
Overall, the night exceeded every one of my expectations and served to reaffirm my goals with DanielleDorky.com. Sometimes I worry that our culture is too focused on how musicians spend their spare time than the music they create. I worry that books don’t impact people like they used to, that the idea of getting lost between the pages of a book has been replaced with hopping from one sensationalized online headline to the next.
The Danielle Dorky Launch Party officially put those doubts to rest and confirmed that there are other dorks out there just like me seeking to make a connection with literature and music, who feel that same giddiness when they discover a new musician to obsess over and experience that familiar dazed wooziness after finishing an enthralling novel.
Thanks again to everyone who assisted in making the event a success and look forward to more Danielle Dorky events in the future!
If you’re interested in finding out more about the evening’s performers or sponsors, please visit their websites here: