San Francisco Dance Honors Past, Embraces Future

For the fourth year in a row, the San Francisco “Rosdom” Chapter of the Armenian Youth Federation held its annual AYF community extravaganza on Sat., Feb. 7 at the Khatchaturian Armenian Center’s Saroyan Hall in San Francisco, bringing together young and old alike for a night of celebration and revelry. This year, the gathering took the form of a traditional Armenian dinner and dance, and served to honor the 75-year legacy of the AYF.

“The 75th anniversary is a huge accomplishment for the community,” said “Rosdom” chairperson Mato Senekemerian. “Personally, I was glad to see so many people forget about the economy and the problems we are bombarded with daily for a night of laughing, dancing, and non-stop kef.”

The sold-out event attracted over 450 attendees. The majority of the crowd was from the San Francisco Bay Area, but people from southern California and cities on the East Coast also made their way to the dance. More importantly, the broad generational cross-section of past, present, and future AYF members in the audience made the night truly one to remember.

“The crowd was amazing,” exclaimed Senekemerian. The theme for the evening was “Honor the Past, Embrace the Future” and, he said, “we were really able to achieve that with so many alumni mingling and having fun with our current members and badanees, who are the future of this organization and our people.”

Senekemerian himself welcomed the crowd at the event on behalf of the “Rosdom” Chapter, and was followed with remarks by ARF “Krisdapor” Gomideh chairman Unger Zareh Samurkashian. A slideshow depicting the activities of the “Rosdom” AYF over the years was also displayed throughout the night for the audience.

But the main highlight of the evening was the live music provided by a popular cast of Armenian all-star musicians: John Berberian of Worcester on the oud, Mal Barsamian from Boston on clarinet, Khatchig Jingirian from San Francisco on vocals, Greg Hosharian from Los Angeles on the keyboards, George Bilezikjian of Los Angeles on the drums, and a special guest appearance by kanun player Jim Karagozian. The guests were ecstatic to see all of these performers, especially those who came out all the way from the East Coast.

In the past, the “Rosdom” Chapter has held various other events to bring the community together, such as a getaway weekend in 2005 aimed at bringing alumni closer with today’s youth. This year, a more traditional approach was taken and proved to be just as successful–both in terms of fundraising for the chapter’s activities and solidifying bonds with past and present generations of AYF members.

In reference to the spirit of togetherness the night embodied, Senekemerian concluded by saying, “This is what the AYF is about, regardless of what chapter you are a member of and when. We are all one family.”

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