After more than a decade of event planning in Orlando, Dana Roquemore was feeling lost and pretty burned out.
So a few years ago, she took a trip across the globe to Australia. After a few months away, she returned to Orlando ready to reconnect with her community, and she started hosting dinner parties with her friends.
“I had so many friends doing awesome things that should know each other. So I got this idea to throw everyone’s name into a hat and then I’ll pull out seven random names plus myself,” Dana told us. At first, she worried people wouldn’t come, but eventually, the parties drew interest from folks outside of her circles.
Pretty soon, her passion project of bringing people together through meaningful conversations at the dinner table became much more than she could have imagined– and a whole lot of work came with it. While still maintaining the original idea, this dinner party experiment turned into a business and The Dinner Party Project was born.
Almost four years since the first, Dana has hosted nearly 400 dinner parties with facilitated conversations that range from lighthearted to more serious. The flow of the conversation is dependant upon the faces around the table. “Our guest lists include kids that have just graduated college to people in their seventies,” Dana said. “The more diverse the group is around the dinner table, the more fun we have.”
Intrigued? Sign up to be a part of TDPP. The process is pretty simple: Enter into a lottery of names for an invite to a future dinner. Once selected, you’re sent an invitation. If you opt to attend, $80 secures your seat at the table. You’ll be sent a confirmation email with details of the event. A cocktail happy hour starts at 6:30 p.m. where you’ll mingle with seven strangers. The eighth guest is the host who facilitates the conversation. Dinner is a four-course meal prepared by a local chef and ends on a sweet note with coffee and dessert.
As the project has grown, so have the events. Dana now produces larger events for companies and other clients. And while her business has grown to include events from New York to Nashville, she still puts Orlando first.
Dana has taken TDPP on the road for the summer, organizing pop-up dinners around the country while her friends Jason Moore and Nichole Boyer keep the business going here in Orlando until she returns.
Find out more about Dana and The Dinner Party Project on the TDPP website and on Instagram.
SPEAKING OF COOL COMMUNITY EVENTS…
It’s time for another installment of PechaKucha. A Japanese word meaning chitchat, the event is a simple presentation where speakers are given an overarching theme and then have six minutes and 40-seconds to talk on a topic of their choosing. They’ll talk through 20 images that appear for 20 seconds each. You’ve got two opportunities to see some of Orlando’s most interesting people talk about ballet, technology, art and music, the Hispanic community, guns in schools, happiness, racism, and the history of hair. Get your ticket for Saturday’s 6 p.m. or 9 p.m. show here.