Hi, I’m Diana Rajchel, known to those of you at meetup as Di. I’ve been the primary organizer for Doctor Who meetup, with significant help from my co-organizer Mike (who is also my husband), Jonathon, Ben, Charlie, Kevin, and Jaime for the last five years.
Welcome to the Doctor Who Meetup 5 year anniversary bash! The timing is wonderful - this benchmark of our own group leads into the benchmark for Doctor Who - the show itself will celebrate its 50th anniversary in the 2012-2013 series. We will be pausing between episodes to do a DVD giveaway of today’s episodes, and to see who ends up with the foam Dalek hat.
Today we are showing Doctor Who: Death to the Daleks, and Doctor Who: the Krotons. This programing has been provided courtesy of BBCAmerica, as has the permission to have this event in an actual theater. For the impatient types out there, at the August meetup, we will be showing the William Hartness Episode Gunslingers. Be prepared for really BAD Texan accents.
Today is, in its way, a coming full circle for meetup. While many of our early members point to our very first meeting at Brit’s pub as our “first meetup” in my mind our first “real” meetup came a month later, at a downstairs room in the library across the hall. People at that first meetup said, when asked what activity they wanted the meetup to revolve around, “We want to watch Doctor Who.” So on no budget, I found a way to make it happen - I reserved a room in our public library. For nearly a year, 3 to 5 of us huddled around a laptop, and on particularly good days, Jonathon would produce an LCD projector that we could screen against a wall.
It wasn’t a perfect system, but it delivered on the promise: we DID find a way to watch Doctor Who.
A few months into 2008 I went to meet a friend I hadn’t seen in a few years at a new al-isles British pub that had opened up on Lake Street. The atmosphere was lovely, and as the evening wore on I found myself chatting with a wily old British man who turned out to be the bar’s general manager - and a Doctor Who fan. Once I got him to stop laughing hysterically at the very IDEA of devoted North American Who fans, he agreed to let me take his place for a spin as a possible meetup location. He was even to amend his policy of “no TV” for us, since Doctor Who was, after all, something that exemplified British Culture.
At the time Merlin’s Rest so graciously let us use our establishment, they were so new that they did not have all their licenses together. So they did not HAVE the A/V setup that we enjoy today. After a meetup or two with now around 12 of us gathered around a laptop, Jonathon and I think Kevin would both at times bring in LCD projectors - and Mike and I always brought the canvas that we taped up to a wall. It got us through seasons of Who, seasons of Torchwood, and I remember being just SHOCKED that on one dark wintry day, our side of the bar had 19 people in it!
That was the lowest our attendance has been for Doctor Who meetup ever since. The next month, 25 people, then 30 - and now, as we know, the bar is almost always packed every single month. Online the Doctor Who meetup has gone from around 35 interested members to 432 as of yesterday - and it seems like it may continue to grow.
We are far from the only Doctor Who fan society in the Twin Cities, and as the relative newcomer, I am so proud to have this as another enriching resource for all science fiction fans in the Twin Cities.
Thank you everyone for coming, and for making this 5 years and the way it has led to here and now amazing.