One day after a rainy but well-attended march through downtown Portland, Maine DSA’s first annual “May Day Soirée” took place on May 2nd, providing space to reflect, celebrate, and look forward. From 6 to 8 o’clock, Maine DSA transformed the Woodford’s Club in Portland into something more like a Grange Hall as attendees enjoyed home cooked appetizers, vied in a raffle for a wide assortment of donated prizes, and socialized between presentations from the chapter’s working groups and committees about their work.
There’s something about a social hour that brings folks out who might otherwise not bother. And due to the Covid pandemic those hours have been few and far between. Carl, a longtime member and parliamentarian from Windsor, drove down with his wife, because, “this is the first face to face event I’ve noticed [the chapter] has held in a long time.” For others fairly new to the state, this was a great opportunity to learn how to get active. Naomi and her husband Andrew, somewhat recent transplants to Falmouth, turned out because they “really want to get involved in the community, and see how they can do more mutual aid within that community.” Another new member, somehow also named Naomi, had recently moved to the area. “I live in Portland now, but we were really involved in Detroit DSA when we were there. We took a break when we moved here. But this is a low-lift, networking kind of event that could help us dip our toes back in.” For others, it was an excuse to just get out and experience, like Justice, who noted that she came because “this is right by my apartment, I didn’t have to plan it, and I enjoy dressing up.”
All the funds raised by the entry fees and raffle tickets sold at the Soirée are going towards the chapter’s office fund, which was approved by membership at last year’s summer semi-annual. Among the donated raffle prizes were a year’s membership to Means TV, artwork by our chapter’s famous artist Jon, and a battered megaphone used at many protests and actions. Overall, between the entry fee, raffle tickets, and extra drink tickets, Maine DSA was able to raise a net of over $2,400 towards an established space for meetings and storage.
Attendees were first treated to a short video from NYC DSA that showcased the usefulness of having an office. Then, after a short break, Rose, the chair of the Portland Local Campaign Committee, gave an update on the Chapter’s No on A campaign and the ways people can get involved before the June election, including phone banks and postcards.
After a break for socializing, people gathered back to hear from the chapter’s working groups. Todd, an editor for the Pine & Roses publication, laid out goals of producing one podcast episode per month and publishing one written piece per week and put out a call for submissions at firstname.lastname@example.org. And aside from written pieces, they’re looking for art, photography, and poetry, and solicited questions for an advice column. Maddie from the Abortion Rights Working Group presented next and laid out the group’s plan to fight fake abortion clinics lobbying state and city legislators and raising public awareness, including working with Bates students to put on a teach-in on abortion rights. Finally, Aaron with the Labor Solidarity Working Group brought us home, recapping how the group had been zeroing in on building up strike readiness in regards to the potential UPS strike this summer and attending the local labor council meetings in order to grow connections.
After the last presenter left the stage and folks grabbed their last drink, everyone sat down to hear the results of raffles. Cyr, a member of Starbucks Workers United, announced the many winners, which, to the delight of the audience, included Cyr himself.
As people filed out, most made sure to tip their bartenders and made small talk in the lobby. It was ten past, but folks paid no mind as coats were distributed and libated comrades talked shop. On their way out, many were heard saying “we should do this more often,” and “I hope they do this again soon.” Perhaps next year there’ll no longer be a need for an office. Sometimes, you can hold a social just because.