July 24, 2002
DCGreeks.com Year One Retrospective
Part II: Now What?
The success of that first week excited us, but also put us on notice, that we had an opportunity here to reach an audience, and that like it or not, people were going to be reading what we had to say and looking at our website. We decided after that first week that we needed to shift the focus away from the personal ads aspect of the site to more of the Community aspect of the site. We focused our next few articles on things other than dating. One of our goals for this site was to provide a way for Greek-Americans to get together outside of the stereotypical places where they always hung out, like Greek Nights or other clubs. We've never been anti-Greek night, just in favor of highlighting options of how young Greeks could meet and socialize in other settings. One of our most favorite articles of that fall was our second article, The DC in DCGreeks.com. As life long DC residents we saw many opportunities that the Greeks in this area were missing in terms of fun things to do and chances to socialize with their fellow Greeks outside of a loud, jam-packed, smoky club at 3:00 A.M. We also made it quite clear in our future articles that we were big fans of Greek festivals, and it really didn't matter how far away or how unknown the festival was, because if there were Greeks and Philhellenes there, it was worth going.
Our first opportunity to actually provide a Greek Night alternative came on August 17, 2001, when DCGreeks.com co-sponsored a movie night with St. Katherine's YAL. The movie was naturally, Captain Corelli's Mandolin, the first major studio film in years depicting any part of our Greek heritage. We didn't know where the movie was coming out, just the date, and made sure to tell everyone to be looking out for an email either from us, or from St. Katherine's YAL, telling them which theater we all were going to go to on opening night. Now Captain Corelli's Mandolin was not Spiderman or Star Wars: Return of the Clones, so movie theaters only knew a couple of days in advance of the opening whether or not they were even going to carry the film. After a week of harassing the management at the AMC Courthouse Plaza 8 in Arlington, we finally got a show-time of 7:00. The theater offered us a discount if we could get 50 people in our group. We didn't hit that number, but with two days notice, in the middle of August, in a small theater in Arlington, we managed to get over 30 young adults and a Greek Orthodox priest for good measure in the audience that night. Watching that movie sent chills down our spine and it was especially poignant knowing that you had thirty of your brothers and sisters in that movie theater laughing at the Greek curse words before the subtitles went out. Afterwards over half the group ended up at the Rhodeside Grill for a late dinner and drinks. It was the nicest, most relaxed Greek event we'd been to in years. We can't take all the credit for organizing this event. It was early in the life of DCGreeks.com and we relied upon many of the email lists to get the word out about our events and happenings on the site. We hated doing it, only resorting to it on occasion. One of the reasons we started DCGreeks.com was to give the young adults in this area an alternative to needing a subscription to every email list in town in order to know what's going on. We felt that if you wanted to find out what was going on in the Greek community, you'd could search it out on their own, not having the Greek community pushed on them, often times from multiple sources, on email. Because let's face it, when it came down to finding out the address of a certain event, or what time it started, who had the time to weed through all their emails to find something like that. We figured we'd create an Events Calendar and create a site that people could choose to access and visit if they wanted to or not.
The week after our Captain Corelli's Mandolin outing we got back to the business of working on the site full time. We were not event planners, just supporters. We left the organizing of events to those with experience in it. We simply wanted people to find out about these events and actually go to them. The way to do that was to keep getting people to come back to the site, by providing them with fresh content. Our articles and poll question were debuting on Monday, but we needed a hook for later in the week. We sometimes wonder where these ideas come to us, but one such idea came to us in the middle of August. We needed a game.
Our first and perhaps most widely popular game was The Greekest Link, a game that tested your ability to either spot a Greek celebrity or your knowledge of Greek celebrities, by either answering, Greek or Non-Greek. The Greekest Link, or TGL as we ended up referring to it, was actually in many respects a social lesson for the Greek-American community. It proved on a weekly basis, that there is no such thing as looking Greek and just because someone necessarily has some Greek in them, they're not necessarily "Greek." We found the most obscure celebrities, some with just an ouzo shots amount of Greek blood in them, and called them Greek, even when they themselves would not consider themselves to be Greek at all. We would also find the most dark-haired, dark-eyed non-Greek celebrities in the world and put them on there just to see people get the wrong answer. TGL also provided us with an instant celebrity on the website, Pappas. Pappas loved this game like no one else and played it better than no one else for a while. He was displaced at the top of the leaderboard at some point during the year, but every week it was a race to see who could beat Pappas.
The fall seemed like such a promising time for DCGreeks.com and for the Greek Community in general. September started off with such excitement as our Events Calendar was full of festivals, happy hours, and the biggest event of them all, Beach Blast. We looked forward to going to every event on our calendar if possible, promoting the site with our now-famous logo-emblazoned business cards, which we produced at home on our color laser printer every evening before we went out to a Greek event. We were really looking forward to Beach Blast because it would have been our first opportunity to introduce the site to a whole new group of young Greek adults. We never had intentions of taking this site national, but for all intents and purposes, there are many ties to DC shared by the folks in Tidewater/Virginia Beach, and we also figured that many of the young Greeks from Baltimore would be there as well.
Unfortunately we never made it to Beach Blast. With the events of September 11th occurring just a few days before the weekend of September 14th, it looked like Beach Blast wasn't even going to happen. For better or for worse, Beach Blast did happen that weekend. It was a tough decision to be made by the organizers of the event, but their priest gave them his blessing to continue with an event designed as a fellowship opportunity for young adults in the area. We heard that only half the people showed up and that the mood was understandably somber. We really didn't have the choice in going. With one of us stuck in Las Vegas of all places for work, with no flights coming back that weekend, it didn't seem right for The Guys @ DCGreeks.com to be represented by only one of its members. Each of us went to church that Sunday, one back home at St. Katherine's, the other in St. John the Baptist, a couple of miles from the Vegas strip. We knew that Monday that we couldn't come out with a funny article or even put up our silly game that week, so for a week in September, there was nothing new on DCGreeks.com.
Eventually things had to get back to normal, and we decided that we were going to put our mark on the fall season, oddly enough with a Fall Preview of the events happening throughout the fall. It was our grandest, longest article to date, taking jabs at just about every major player in the DC area Greek community. We could never be accused of not being equal opportunity, because we took jabs at ourselves. One major reason for the fall preview was a call to cooperation among the organizers of all the events going on that fall. We noticed too many overlaps in scheduling events on the same night. More often than not this ended up causing two poorly attended Greek events, which weren't as fun as they could have been. One of our original goals of the site was to break down the cliques that divided DC, Maryland, and Virginia, based along church lines, YAL lines, old Greek school lines, and extended family lines. Scheduling events on the same night on both sides of the Potomac wasn't helping this goal any, and we wanted to make organizers of these events aware of them. Our Events Calendar in the fall had some glaring examples of directly competing events, so we wanted to make sure that organizers checked our calendar first to clear potential conflicts.
While we were getting a lot of people from St. Katherine's and from St. George on the the site, it seemed we weren't getting enough people from St. Sophia visiting DCGreeks.com. Both St. Katherine's and St. George's YALs had active email lists, so many people knew us from there. But how could we truly call ourselves, DCGreeks.com when the young adults from the largest church in DC really didn't know about us? On a side note, we had heard that the young adult population at Sts. Constantine & Helen wasn't that active, so we hoped that many of them would hear about us from St. George or St. Katherine's. We saw a grand opportunity to promote our site to all the young adults in DC and elsewhere by attending St. Sophia's fall festival at the end of September. St. Sophia's is one of the largest festivals and we figured everyone would be there.