When my friends at the social justice hub encuentro 5 and the local progressive online station solicited me to help host the first annual Activist Ball on January 25, I asked if they were ready to retire their picket signs for a night and party their asses off. Needless to say, they assured me the gala at Spontaneous Celebrations in Jamaica Plain would feature DJ Univers-AL, a cash bar, lots of dancing, and a mid-winter costume contest. Sounded sweet to me, so I asked Activist Ball organizer Sarah Francis to convince the rest of you the same.

What issues in particular are pressing these activists so hard that they have to blow off steam with a gala?
Issues? Hmmm … Well we could start with the injustices (so many kinds we can’t list them) and the inequalities (shall we sum it up and say all of them). Moving on to immigration, peace, accessibility, racism, healthcare, the environment, water access, fair wages, education, and the list goes on. See why we need to blow off steam? In the Boston area there are thousands of organizations working to create change for our lives, communities, and the world. We recognize that and we thank them all!

Activists aren’t always thought of as party animals. Why should people want to join your revelry?
Really? Then encuentro5 & are looking to change that misconception. Activists are everywhere and they need stress release just like bankers. Just take neighborhoods in Dorchester and Roxbury like Fields Corner and Dudley Square–you’ll find dozens of organizations invested in actively changing the status quo. Check a few out: Dorchester Arts Collaborative, the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute, Haley House, the Design Studio for Social Intervention. These organizations promote activism and we celebrate them with this dance party!

Dance is a medium that bridges and releases. Over the years encuentro5 has brought diverse communities together through various forms of music, dance, and celebration. This year’s Activist Ball, our first in a new yearly tradition, is a natural progression in seeking ways to come together as community.

Where do the proceeds go and which government agencies will be angriest with those who attend?
First the tricky question: We have a new mayor in Boston and as activists we’re excited and always hopeful that this new fresh face will back the just causes, so no bones there yet. To name a few agencies who might not love a dance floor of activists getting down: NSA, FDA, Treasury, State Department, EPA, IRS, CIA, FBI, and I suppose I should stop if I want to finish this questionnaire.

If you follow the bread crumbs after the Activist Ball the proceeds will be split by hosts encuentro 5 & will use proceeds towards operating costs of Radio (community activist online streaming produced out of downtown Boston) and the start-up of the Digital Divide Project (which focuses on narrowing the gap in the digital media divide for activist and community groups and organizations through consultation, education, and networking).

What’s the wildest thing people can expect to see when social justice crusaders get boogieing?
If we have our way, Ghandi doing the “Gangnam Style” with Margaret Sanger. Dorothea Dix doing the Hustle with Angela Davis. We’re encouraging folks to dress up as their favorite activist–there’s a $100 door prize for best costume. Um side note: Twerking not encouraged. (Come on, dance floor full of activists, they can only ignore so much.)

And don’t count the activists out for wild … Woodstock?

[For tickets and info visit]