As one of Kitchener-Waterloo's longest running DJ companies, ThunderStorm Productions was looking forward to a busy year, but for now their DJ equipment, popcorn, cotton candy, slushie and soft-serve ice-cream machines sit idle.
While COVID-19 threatens to change this industry, ThunderStorm owner Eric Hoshooley says he refuses to stop the music. “My DJs are getting cabin fever and we want to spread some joy, instead of this virus,” he said.
Hoshooley says if there’s one thing he knows, it’s that Waterloo Region is a social community. “Obviously, throwing a large party would be out of the question and providing popcorn or cotton candy is also a no-go, so we thought of hosting a dance party online, where everyone and anyone could participate from the comfort and safety of their own homes.”
The first Dancing Distantly Party was a hit and Hoshooley promises there will be more to follow. “We are a company that brings fun and that's what everyone needs right now.”
The support from the community was overwhelming, with people logging in from all over Canada. “We had people from Japan, Norway, Australia and Costa Rica, too," he said.
Of all of the positive feedback he received, there was one that stood out the most, a doctor in Guelph who thanked him for the temporary distraction. “That right there is why we did this, even if we only brought joy to one person it was totally worth it, and reading through all the comments I think we helped a lot of people.”
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Hoshooley spoke about how important it is to support local right now. “We will all need it really badly when this is all over,” he says. “We have had many cancellations already and I think it will cascade throughout the year as we work through this, but we have made it through a lot of things in our 27-year history and we will make it through this as well.”
ThunderStorm began as a high school dream. While Hoshooley attended Resurrection High, in Kitchener, he DJ’d at area schools and was mentored by some of the region’s leading audio and staging professionals, he says.
“Our community has always been number one to us; we wouldn't have a business if it wasn't for this community.” Over the years he has donated or reduced rates for music services to various local charities.
Hoshooley says we all need a distraction right now; one he is willing to provide. “The nice thing with technology is we can all be out there, we can all help.” He hopes to do this a few times a week. He says, they are working on creating a kids dance party for an early evening this week. “It’s going to have lots of kid’s stuff, Disney music, you name it, pretty much a dance-a-thon in your own living room.”
During the online dance parties, they ask that those participating post on their social and tag #DancingDistantly. He says he was thrilled to see every tag included singing, laughing, and best of all; smiling.
He asks that if you have a favourite local small business, “please do us a favour and go leave us a review on social media and Google. Not only will you help that business when this is all over, you will help that owner, who is sitting at home not knowing if their business will survive, see a shining light.”
He says every email and notification they receive that says, “we appreciate you, we will be back,” can help them mentally get through this and fight to come back.
"When this is all over," he says, “I know I will be working with all my event friends, and local vendors, to try to throw some amazing parties; to kick-start the local economy and bring everyone into a better mental state. We will party and bring the fun.”