Dance club having trouble breaking even Silopanna in Motion struggles to draw teens

August 09, 1992|By JoAnna Daemmrich | JoAnna Daemmrich,Staff Writer

Fifteen-year-old Kelly Morlan was "jamming" in Edgewater last week. Snapping her fingers to the latest Michael Jackson hit, she swayed down the street to advertise a new teen dance club.

Called Silopanna in Motion, the Annapolis club is an updated, flashy version of 1950s sock hops for the MTV generation. But the laser lights and big-screen television are about to fade -- just two weeks after the first dance -- unless the founder can come up with more money.

Michael Mackessy, who started the Friday-night dances at Annapolis High School, needs at least $2,000 to keep the club going until the first taped videos are aired on local cable stations. He figures teens will pack the gym once they see the action.

A graduate of the Buddy Dean television show, Baltimore's version of "American Bandstand," Mr. Mackessy wanted to revive teen dance parties as a fun and wholesome entertainment option.

"I used to be a Buddy Deaner, and it really added a lot to my life," he said. "It kept me out of trouble, and it gave me a lot of self-esteem."

Teen-agers who might be tempted to spend their weekend nights drinking or using drugs can instead dance the night away to the latest popular songs. The four-hour party is videotaped, edited and will be shown on United Cable and Jones Intercable.

"One of the messages I want to get across with this show is that it's cool to be sober," Mr. Mackessy said.

The program has won the support of area drug counselors, educators and elected officials. But it was not an immediate hit with teen-agers.

Despite a big promotional push and extensive advertising, only about 150 teen-agers showed up when Silopanna in Motion kicked off July 31.

To break even with the $5 entrance fee, Mr. Mackessy said, he fTC needs 500 teens to attend.

The first dance cost him several thousand dollars and forced him to freeze the salaries of the dance committee, emcee and disc jockey. He's not sure whether he can afford to continue the program unless the next two dances are successes.

Even though Silopanna in Motion -- which was named after Silopanna (Annapolis backward) Road -- was well-advertised, many teen-agers are working or away on vacation.

Word of the new club has spread slowly, although the dance committee has participated in local events, such as the National Night Out parade in Edgewater Tuesday, to recruit new members. Twelve members danced down the street Tuesday and told everyone who would listen how cool the new club is.

Mr. Mackessy is optimistic the club will become trendy after that the first videos are aired Aug. 14. But he's had little luck in drumming up money to tide him over until then.

The county and state have not responded to his requests for assistance.

Annapolis Mayor Alfred A. Hopkins referred him to the city's Department of Community Services, which offered to defray the cost of printing fliers and posters but could not give him an emergency grant or loan, Mr. Mackessy said.

Anyone wishing to help the program can send a check to: Silopanna in Motion, c/o Business Services Diversified, 153 Mayo Road, Edgewater, 21037.

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