For our first nine anniversaries, the party started with a regular Friday evening meeting. The group then finished the evening at a restaurant. We don’t have a record of which restaurant the group went to that first year, but we do know what they talked about: a panel of couples discussed the problems and dynamics of marriage. GAMMA member, Vern W., wrote a short article that was published in The Blade (Jan 18, 1979, p16) that announced our first anniversary and advertised our mission.
The monthly GAMMA Newsletter provides basic information about the venues and dates for the next eight anniversaries. Following the model of the first anniversary party they all began with a regular meeting and was followed by a trip to a restaurant:
2nd 1/11/1980: The Fraternity House (off P St, NW) 3rd 1/23/1981: The Other Side (Half and O St, SE); attendance was 34 4th 1/22/1982: Mr. P’s (2147 P St, NW) 5th 1/28/1983: Washington Room of the Georgetown Hotel (2121 P St, NW) 6th 1/27/1984: Herb’s Restaurant (2111 P St, NW) 7th 1/25/1985: Georgetown Hotel (2121 P St, NW) 8th 1/24/1986: Ramada Residence (1143 New Hampshire Ave, NW) 9th 2/20/1987: Georgetown Omni Hotel (2121 P St, NW); attendance was about 50
The tenth anniversary was special: the celebration was expanded to a three-day event (January 22-24, 1988). On the first day, 35 men attended the regular Friday evening meeting (then being held at The Church of the Pilgrims, 22nd & P St, NW) followed by a pub crawl on P Street. The main event, attended by 76 men, was held the next day at the Georgetown OMNI Hotel. The event was advertised in The Blade and entertainment was provided by “Potomac Fever” of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington. On the third day, a brunch was held at the same hotel for all GAMMA men and their wives. 10th Anniversary Documents
For the next four years, this three-day pattern continued: 11th 1/27-29/1989: Dupont Plaza Hotel; attendance was 57 12th 1/26-28/1990: Georgetown Omni (2121 P St, NW) 12th Anniversary Documents 13th 1/25-27/1991: Friends (2122 P St, NW); attendance was about 50 13th Anniversary Documents 14th 1/4/1992; Charles Sumner School Museum (17th & M St, NW); attendance was about 45. The Friday meeting and couples brunch were on 1/24 & 1/26/1992. 14th Anniversary Documents
Beginning with the 15th, the parties once again became one-evening affairs. 15th 1/30/1993: Home of Steve S. (Virginia area code). 16th 1/22/94: Lone Star Cantina (500 8th St, SE); attendance was about 40. 16th Anniversary Documents 17th No recorded event 18th 1/19/1996: Straits of Malaya Restaurant (18th & T St, NW); attendance was 47. 18th Anniversary Documents 19th No recorded event
The 20th anniversary party was our biggest event. It was a two-day affair: dinner and brunch (February 7-8, 1998) at the very posh Washington Plaza Hotel. Once again, the main event was advertised in The Blade with entertainment by “Potomac Fever” of the GMCW. There was also “A Very Special Birthday Cake”: the young lad who jumped out of the cake was a big hit. Although members could buy a dinner ticket for only $35, “Angel” tickets could be purchased for $100. The Hotel also provided a special $79 package for an overnight stay. The GAMMA collection contains samples of the invitations that were mailed out as well as programs that were used.
The 21st (2/19/1999) looks like it was a pretty big affair; it was held at the Radisson Barcelo Hotel (2121 P St, NW) with about 50 men. That was the fifth time that we celebrated at that address (the name on the site changed several times, we also held our regular meetings there for a little over seven years, 1998-2005). The newsletter after that party is full of great pictures. The 22nd anniversary was at the home of Eddie A. and Jeff M. when they lived on Connecticut Ave. There are no records of parties after that until the 27th (2/25/2005) and the 28th (3/12/2006) that were also hosted by Eddie and Jeff, but in their new home in McLean, VA. It appears that the anniversary celebrations started to drift into the spring, perhaps to deal with DC weather. For whatever reason, the 29th was celebrated with no fanfare on 8/27/2007. The newsletter announces that the event would be marked by taking “A few minutes at the end of our regular meeting.” The last recorded anniversary party, celebrating our 30th was hosted by party stars, Eddie and Jeff on 4/11/2008. However, the idea of an anniversary party was resurrected at the last minute in 2017 (the 39th) at John Payne’s house in College Park. - E. Kearsley