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.
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.
Seeking shelter. In response to the June 30 deadline that FEMA has given Puerto Rican evacuees, several are setting up tents outside of the Gaylord Palms Resort. The hope is that this “tent city” will get Governor Rick Scott’s attention who has promised to help with housing. (Orlando Weekly)
Things that go itch in the ocean. Reports of sea lice, seaweed, jellyfish stings, and red tide really have us craving the beach right about meow. But seriously, if you’re heading to the coast, give the beach reports a look over before you get on the road. P.S. You know one thing Orlando doesn’t have? Sea lice. (Nor a sea, but that’s neither here nor there.) (Orlando Weekly)
Taking recycling seriously. Orange County Waste Management is running a pilot program in the Park Manor subdivision for six-weeks. The program will consist of workers leaving notes for residents with feedback on whether they’re recycling correctly or not. Did you know that only FIVE materials are approved for the recycling bin? These five materials include plastic, metal, glass, cardboard and paper. Two major culprits that are commonly found in these bins but are NOT recyclable are plastic bags and pizza boxes. A list of acceptable recyclables can be found here. (Click Orlando)
Are your kids uninsured? Starting July 24, uninsured students in Orange and Seminole County can receive free back-to-school physicals. Shepherd’s Hope, a faith-based nonprofit that provides free primary care and specialty care to uninsured adults and children, partnered with Nemours Children’s Health System to start this program. (Orlando Sentinel)
Hollywood comes to Orlando. The Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) will be shooting a new drama series in Orlando starting this summer. The series, “David Makes Man” follows the storyline of a 14-year-old prodigy who rides the gifted bus to school but is haunted by years he spent as a drug dealer. OWN said the young protagonist “must choose between the streets that raised him or the higher education that may offer him a way out.” (Orlando Sentinel)
🎆 Wednesday, July 4: Join us as we celebrate the 4th with the city of Orlando. Party starts at 4 pm. (Downtown)
🚲 Hop on your bike for this community ride (Loch Haven Park)
🚀 Early risers, head to the cape to see a rocket launch (Cape Canaveral)
🍿 Watch Jumanji at Lake Eola (Downtown)
🎨 Call to artists! Submit your pieces for street art boxes (Ivanhoe Village)
🇩🇪 Learn more stories of the Holocaust (Maitland)
🥁 Listen to Hayfire at The Barn (Sanford)
🚲 Pedal it out for books for the Winter Park Public Library (Winter Park)
🗣 Hear about the capture of Markieth Loyd and tour the new OPD station (Bungalower)
🎉 Ain’t no party like a vintage party (Orlando Weekly)
🎭 Check out what the Wayne Densch theater has in store (Sanford)
🚂 Toy Story Land officially opens at Hollywood Studios (Disney)
🍿 Watch Back to the Future on the fairway (Winter Park)
🐐 Practice yoga with goats (Downtown)
🍺 Taste craft beers and view lots of art (Ivanhoe Village)
🌈 You don’t need to be gay to go to the Big Gay Prom (Parramore)
🗣 PechaKucha is back and the lineup is aces – meet us there? (Downtown)
🎤 Check out this ol’ favorite: the gospel brunch at HOB (Disney)
🎭 Orlando Shakes presents classic The Taming of the Shrew (Loch Haven Park)
🎭 Or catch this live show about faith, family, and legacy (Downtown)
🇺🇸 Take the whole family to the Great American Block Party (Lake Nona)
🎇 Start celebrating our independence at Stars and Stripes (International Drive)
🥧 Try your luck with this pie eating contest (Audubon Park)
🎇 Check out the lineup at Red, Hot and Boom (Altamonte Springs)
🎇 Catch Independence Day celebrations here (Baldwin Park)
🎇 Drive over to Mt. Dora for fireworks on the waterfront (Mt. Dora)
🎇 It’s an all-day celebration on the lakefront (St. Cloud)
🎇 Pack a picnic basket and head to the beach (New Smyrna)
🎇 Enjoy live music and fireworks on the Riverwalk (Sanford)
🎇 Apple pie bake-off and a bike parade (Avalon Park)
🎇 A talent competition plus a fireworks finale (Winter Springs)
🎇 Joey Fatone, Doug E. Fresh, C+C Music Factory + fireworks (Kissimmee)
🎇 Head over to Newtown Park for the festivities (Winter Garden)
🎇 Watch the fireworks over Lake Minneola (Clermont)
Going to one of these? Take us with you! Email a pic to [email protected] or tag #pulptown on Instagram. See more upcoming events on our events page, and add your own events with a Pulptown membership.