Discussion continues regarding DJ vs MC question, live music, and projected attendance at MCHS 2015

In a previous post, I’ve shared views from Speaker #7 concerning the DJ vs MC question. Stephanie Shaar (Speaker #7) has mentioned that it’s just as well to mention her by name, as it makes it easier to keep track of who said what when you have a name rather than a number.

I sometimes find it useful to identify people by Speaker Numbers. Among other things it ensure that I do not need to devote extra time to getting permission to quote a person directly.

Painting at reception desk at Old Mill Toronto provides Artist's Impression of Old Mill at early stage of its history. Click on image to enlarge it. Jaan Pill photo

However, there are indeed also clear advantages to getting that permission to name people when sharing messages online. It’s easier to keep track of a discussion thread when you know the name of the person who’s made a particular comment.

Anyway, the reason we share some discussions online – with or without names – is that (1) the web enables us to do this, and (2) transparency is a useful part of the planning process for a reunion.

The online discussions that we are involved in are helpful when the final decisions are made, by the organizing committee that regularly meets – face to face as contrasted to online – at a Boston Pizza in Kitchener west of Toronto. We’re making good progress in setting up a system for keeping track of comments and suggestions.

Summary of Stephanie’s comments (in her previous role as Speaker #7):

Stephanie Shaar has referred in a previous post to a speaker who spoke of the close link between a DJ and having fun. She also commented that a more balanced approach comes with a comment that MCs and DJs each possess their own roles, and can appear at different stages of the evening; the presence of both would help ensure an evening that is both smoothly run, and fun.

Stephanie also noted that a DJ helps set the mood through music, and encourages a party atmosphere. She noted it would be a good idea to have not just a series of MC but also a series of DJs – “or at least, while the theme is the 60’s, the DJ should be thoroughly knowledgeable of music from the 50s through to the 70s.”

Étienne Brûlé at the mouth of the Humber River in 1615, 400 years ago as of 2015, accompanied by First Nations guides. Pen & Ink drawing, circa 1933, by C.W. Jefferys. Credit: Library and Archives Canada, Acc. No. 1972-26-1395. Copyright: Expired.

She added that MCHS grads experienced evolving social and cultural influences: The 1960 grads who began grade 8 in Sept ’56 would have, among their influences: James Dean, music e.g. Everly Brothers, Crickets, duwop. The 1974 grads began grade 7 in ’69. The British Invasion, hippies, etc. had passed through; AC/DC and KISS were playing.

Stephanie added: “While the ’74s were at their grad, the 60’s grads were by then in their 30’s, many with school age children of their own.”

Stephanie has discussed some other items as well, which will go into the mix as the planning process goes forward.


By way of summary, the intention is that, in the course of the evening, those who like to talk in a quiet setting will have the opportunity to do so; and those who like to dance to loud music (who might also have been among the talkers earlier, during the mix and mingle stage of things) will also have the opportunity to do so. There are some options regarding quieter spaces for those who want to talk without loud background noise. We will explore those.

During the buffet dinner, a key meet and greet portion of the event, we would not have loud music. Also, an overall theme established early in the planning, is: “Keep it simple.”

Storytelling and live music

Stephanie has noted that she has attended live storytelling sessions in Montreal. She noted that she finds finds ‘interestability’ is related to the speaker’s topic and presentation quality. That is a topic that we will continue to explore, as we develop the agenda for the reunion.

Ronnie the Bren Gun Girl: Veronica Foster. Source: Libraries & Archives of Canada PA - 119766. Veronica Foster, who performed as a musician at Old Mill, Toronto around the 1950s and 60s, was actually a non-smoker, her daughter informed me some time ago. She only smoked for the photo session where this photo and others were taken.

Live music has also been discussed. Jaan Pill has mentioned some potential sources of live entertainment that he knows about, including a young singer who specializes in songs from past eras; a 50s and 60s live music band; and a dance group that does live performances of dances from previous eras. We’ll address these topics in future posts.

Comment from John Kovacs concerning the DJ vs MC question

John Kovac has helped us tremendously with regard to strategic thinking through previous comments. Along with Lynn Berry, who had commented about this topic earlier, John convinced us to expand the scope of the 60s reunion, so that students who began at MCHS in the 1960s but graduated in the 1970s would not be left out. John also convinced us, in a Comment at a recent post, to re-configure the Preserved Stories website so that there is a banner for the reunion across the page, and so that information about registration and other details is easy to find. Work on the re-configuration is proceeding smoothly. The MCHS 2015 site will be accessible at www.MCHS2015.com

John’s comment regarding MC vs DJ

Re : the benefits of a M.C. vs a DJ . I believe that someone got it right about the role of a DJ, and I don’t think the DJ has an investment or familiarity of the activities, as one of the Alumni – especially someone from the organizing committee.

An M.C., in fact can be more than one person ( 1 Male , 1 Female ) or as they do at Awards Shows, 1 or 2 M.C.s and several guest presenters.

The guest presenters will straddle the graduating years, so no one feels left out or overwhelmed.

[End of text from John Kovac.]

View from the Bloor St. West along the Humber River Bridge, close to Old Mill, looking south toward Lake Ontario. Jaan Pill photo

John Kovac has also shared with us some names of possible DJ candidates; we will convey that information to the Toronto-based entertainment subcommittee and the MCHS 2015 organizing committee.

We’ve also discussed projected attendance figures with John Kovac and Gary Lambertz. For the current post, I’ll close with a question from Gary.

Projected attendance

Question from Gary Lambertz:

I was just wondering about the size allocated to the number of people that this event can hold. What I don’t understand is that Human nature, being what it is, will always wait till the last minute to register and I fear that more people will do so. You might be surprised at the amount of people that will do so! What alternative would there be to hold this event if 200 >500 were wanting to go? I for one am planning on going, but I want to get a group of my class together to make the trip. Hope that by June I will have that done.

[End of text]

Reply from Jaan Pill:

With the buffet dinner as the setup, we’re looking at 140 people for Brûlé Rooms B & C at Old Mill, Toronto. In a scenario that we don’t anticipate, but would need to envision, if there was a huge demand by people to attend toward the last moment, then there would be a way – one can envision this, but we don’t anticipate it – to increase the number beyond 140 to somewhere in the range of 200. In that case, the buffet scenario would be jettisoned.

It’s pretty hard to predict how the numbers will go. It’s a good point that you make: People tend to leave things until the last moment. I’ve noticed that with national conferences that I’ve helped to organize in years past. The last day before the deadline for registration sometimes sees a major flurry of registrations coming in.

Something I’ve also noticed, however, in the past decade or two, is that the idea of face to face meetings doesn’t have the same sense of urgency for some people that it had in the past – say in the past as in the 1990s when the Internet was just starting to make its presence known. I’m really keen about the value of a face to face event such as a reunion, and there still are many people who share that enthusiasm, but with social media and the like, some people don’t have the same enthusiasm, perhaps, for getting together in person, that people had in the past.

20 guest rooms are available at Old Mill Toronto at reduced rates for MCHs 60s Reunion attendees. Free parking for reunion attendees has also been arranged. Jaan Pill photo

The other aspect is that we’re dealing with demographic changes as they relate to the MCHS Sixties/Early Seventies generation. People are getting older. Some people are on limited income by way of pensions. Some people have the means to travel and stay at hotels, and pay $150 for a reunion fee, but the proportion of people who can do that may be diminishing.

What I’ve shared is based on my experience and is also driven by informed speculation and guesses.

My sense is that our first task, as an organizing committee, is to get the 140 figure met. That’s the first priority. Howard Hight and Diana Redden are focusing on that through the excellent Newsletter. All of us who have any connection with the MCHS 2015 website and MCHS-related Facebook pages are publicizing the event through those particular means.

Word of mouth advertising – talking with fellow graduates in our circle of contacts – is also a key means of ensuring that people know about the reunion, and that a given percentage of them will be motivated to register and send in their cheques.

We’ll have the opportunity to see which way things are trending, in terms of attendance, in the next few months. It’s really important to discuss these things. I much appreciate your question. I look forward to the continuation of such conversations as we get closer to the event.

[End of text]


7 replies
  1. Bill Jacobson
    Bill Jacobson says:

    From my perspective the issue of DJ vs MC is almost irrelevant. I look forward to connecting, spending time and catching up with old friends and classmates. For me, during the 1999 class of 1969 reunion while the music was great, almost all of the value was the time spent chatting with my old classmates. I have no preference as to DJ versus MC or a series of hosts. I am just really looking forward to seeing old friends, many of whom I have reconnected with on social media.

    • Stephanie Shaar
      Stephanie Shaar says:

      Hi Bill re: our 1999 reunion, I’d been in charge of music and happy to have engaged an enthusiastic DJ who was totally familiar with music from our era. That evening, he had an emergency and sent in his stead, a young francophone, who poor youngster, knew zip about 60’s, and could barely even locate our requests. As anticipation of meeting one another after 30 years had run high, I was surprised at how early in the evening people started drifting home. I wondered if the background of (what I found to be) rather chaotic musical choices influenced this – maybe not; still, familiar music we loved could have only enhanced the evening and our memories.

      But you’re right, no matter the venue or its details of it, our reason for attending the reunion is for the pleasure of meeting up with classmates.

      • Jaan Pill
        Jaan Pill says:

        It’s really valuable, Stephanie, to know of the experiences that people have had, in terms of the planning and in terms of the event itself, at previous reunions. We can learn from each other’s experiences. This is a key part of doing our homework as we plan for the 2015 Sixties reunion.

  2. Jaan Pill
    Jaan Pill says:

    Good to read your message, Bill. A strong theme at the organizing committee meetings in Kitchener has indeed been the theme of: “Keep it simple. We just want a chance to meet old friends, chat, hang out together.” What you’ve mentioned reinforces that theme, and underlines the fact that, whatever else the reunion is about, a chief focus of the event is just the chance to see old friends, old classmates from many years ago.

  3. Gerry Garnett
    Gerry Garnett says:

    As to the debate of MC vs DJ:

    We can all listen to DJ’s and music anytime we choose, even all the time. How often do we get the opportunity to hear personal stories about the people we shared the hallowed hallways with? This is a rare opportunity to share a little more about the lives we lived in the 60/s and where how our lives have evolved since then. I can turn on Elvis Presley or go to a dance tomorrow if I want, and I don’t have to travel across the country to do so. Let’s take advantage of this opportunity to make it more about the people and less about the music.

  4. Jaan Pill
    Jaan Pill says:

    This is a really good point, Gerry. We already have access to Elvis music at any time, and that’s not, as you note, the key purpose of travelling to Old Mill, Toronto for the reunion.

    One of our projects, as an organizing committee, as planning proceeds, is to develop a way for us to share stories, in a formal or informal way, at the reunion. I would be interested in your thoughts about how best to organize the sharing of stories.

    In a previous post, Stephanie Shaar shared the following points regarding our current explorations about how to share stories at the reunion. She wrote:

    “I’ve attended live storytelling sessions in Montreal – find ‘interestability’ related to the speaker’s topic / presentation quality.

    “TED talks are well prepared, as are Moth [a long-time New York radio show] ones I’ve heard – perhaps these are pre-screened and storytelling isn’t? Don’t know.

    “I think anecdotes and stories / slides are a great idea – laughter will get our endorphins flowing!

    I have a friend who’s been listening to Moth for years, attends live Ted and storytelling – I’ll ask him for comments, if you like…”

    [End of text]

    [Note to Stephanie: As I’ve mentioned, yes, I’d be most interested in your friend’s comments.]

    My own interests, as a retired elementary teacher, include finding out of there are teams of people who might be interested in preparing brief, well-rehearsed skits, dramas, or role plays about events dating back 50 years.

    Any suggestions, from any source, on any topics related to how to share stories at a reunion – aside from the one-to-one conversations, which in themselves are an ideal way as well – will be most welcome. It’s all part of doing our homework, to ensure the reunion is a fun and memorable event for all os us.

  5. Jaan Pill
    Jaan Pill says:

    By way of adding to my previous comment:

    I used to teach elementary school. My favourite activity was arranging role plays and dramas created by students. People had such a great time, and so many kids found out that they had a flair for drama that they had not really ever tuned into before, except possibly they had tuned into it in very early childhood and had then forgotten about it. Live music, live dance, live drama. People have so much fun.

    I for one am keen about incorporating role play or drama of some type – or similar live events such as a 1960s TV Game Show, or a Spelling Bee – at the reunion. However, the key thing is: We need to go with what people as a group want; that’s the central and most important consideration as we proceed with development of the agenda.


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