DecaDANCE to connect local singles


Erev Christmas Day has always been a quiet night for Jews. However, a few organizations are doing their best to change that situation particularly for Jewish singles.

Beginning at 8 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 24, and continuing until midnight, the Marriott St. Louis Airport Hotel will be the site for the third annual DecaDANCE. Co-presented by B’nai B’rith St. Louis and the St. Louis Jewish Light, and sponsored by the Fox Family Foundation, B’nai El Congregation, MatchBook and the JCC, in partnership with Sparks Matchmaking Service, this year’s event is full of new activities for the attendees.

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“We decided to expand and upgrade the entertainment,” Michelle Gralnick, executive director of B’nai B’rith St. Louis, Missouri Lodge #22, Singles Division, and “50 Something” Group, said. “We will have a raffle, a balloon artist, a magician, and a dance motivator to teach dance steps as well as interact with the guests.” Gralnick said the music, provided by Utopia Entertainment, will appeal to all age groups since the event attracts a diverse group of people covering four decades. “DecaDANCE is designed to be a community-wide event that is inclusive,” Gralnick said. “We see people who are in their early 20s to early 60s.”

The event is jam-packed with enough diversions to keep attendees entertained and busy. In addition to hosts and hostesses who will make sure people are introduced to others, Mike Geerlof, of Mike’s Balloon Creations, will amuse attendees at the beginning of the evening with his unusual balloon artistry. At 9:30 p.m., Aaron Goldstein will perform sleight-of-hand magic. “These two entertainers add another dimension to the evening,” Gralnick said. “It gives people a shared experience, especially for folks coming alone. They’ll be gathered around watching the performers and then have a common topic to talk about.”

Marriott has designed two signature drinks especially for the event: Mazeltini and Glass of Choliday Cheer. The dessert buffet will showcase a chocolate fountain, fruit and cheese, and various pastries. There also will be a cash bar.

The raffle will feature such items as a three-month membership to the JCC; an inkjet printer donated by Randye Lyle and Office Essentials Inc.; a gift certificate to Pumpernickels; a tray from Ambiance; a free portrait sitting, 8″ by 10″ print and photo CD, total value of $355, by Lisa Mandel Photography; and business-oriented gift certificates donated by various organizations. Raffle tickets will be $1 each or six for $5. “You put your raffle tickets into the bowl of whichever items you want,” Gralnick said. “So basically you’re buying chances for specific items.” Money raised from the raffle ticket sales will offset the expense of the dance. Gralnick said organizers decided not to increase the entry fee this year so raffle sales help keep the costs reasonable. Another bonus this year, all attendees will receive a two-week pass to the JCC.

Steve Aroesty, who has attended both DecaDANCEs in St. Louis, admits that some people might feel hesitant about attending a singles event. He thinks that is because people feel stressed about having to “meet someone” to date. Gralnick emphasizes that this party is not a matchmaking event. “The DecaDANCE is a way for people to come together for social, professional or romantic networking.” She said that historically, while some people have found dates, others have found good business contacts and a new circle of friends.

Aroesty says that the DecaDANCE gives people the chance to catch up with others in the community on a night when there’s not much else to do. “I go for the camaraderie, a chance to kibbitz and catch up,” he said. He suggests prospective attendees should get their friends together and come out to the event.

“The Christmas season can make anyone who is Jewish feel alienated,” Aroesty said. “There’s really nothing else going on besides eating Chinese food and going to a movie.”

New supporter, B’nai El, is the only congregation that’s a sponsor of the event.

“We have a lot of active single members,” congregation president Jim Singer said. “One reason we wanted to sponsor DecaDANCE was to recognize these people who have contributed to the community.”

Another reason for the sponsorship, he said, was the relationship between B’nai El and B’nai B’rith.

“We have some members who are active in B’nai B’rith and there are members of B’nai B’rith who are active in our events.”

In other cities, a Christmas Eve Jewish singles party is a big deal. The Matzo Ball, which began in 1987 in Boston, is held in five cities and its Web site said it attracted 10,500 party-goers in 2006. Another organization that puts on Christmas Eve Jewish singles events is It began in New York City 12 years ago and its Web site says the event is attended by more than 3,000 Jewish singles. Aroesty wouldn’t mind seeing St. Louis’ DecaDANCE becoming a huge event here.

“This type of party on Christmas Eve for Jewish singles is tremendously successful in other cities, particularly on the East Coast,” Aroesty said. “It’s an opportunity to meet people, not just from your own synagogue, but from throughout the community.”

To register for DecaDANCE visit or mail a check to B’nai B’rith St. Louis, P.O. Box 50321, Clayton, MO 63105-5321. Checks must be received by Dec. 20. Online reservations will be accepted until Dec. 21 (click the yellow ribbon in the upper right-hand corner of the Web page).

Tickets are $25 in advance and $35, cash only, at the door. Parking is complimentary and will be validated at the check-in table.