The Spaghetti Disco, a Story of Community-Building 


The Spaghetti Disco, a Story of Community-Building 

Article by Sue Walther, Disco Volunteer 

Update 2023 

Spaghetti Disco is an annual event that began as a break from winter doldrums to raise funds for local playgrounds. After 23 years, it continues to give local residents a welcome opportunity to enjoy a family-style meal followed by hours of dancing to raise money for good causes.  

In 1998, Village residents Rebecca Bruce and Halle Van der Gaag originated the Disco. Their modest goal was to raise sufficient funds for playground equipment at nearby schools and community open spaces. Together, with spouses Chris Bruce and Andy Thomas, they rented a space, served spaghetti and meatballs, found a DJ, invited neighbors, and started a phenomenon that continues today. 

From the beginning, it was an all-volunteer, all-hands-on deck, locally centered effort. People lined up to roll meatballs, cook pasta, serve salads and garlic bread, and pour the libations. There were crews that solicited and picked up donations from local merchants, ran craft activities for the kids, set up the tables and decorations, cleaned up afterwards, washed pots and dishes, took out the trash, all for the glory and bragging rights to wear that year’s Disco tee shirt, designed by Tom Chalkley. It wasn’t all work and no play. When dinner was over, the tables were pushed back, the music cranked up, and everyone danced.  

The time, place, beneficiary and management have evolved over the years, but many hands are still required to make the Spaghetti Disco happen. This year’s event, on Saturday, March 11, is no exception. The Village Learning Place now manages the event. Funds raised from ticket and bar sales support this community library which houses programs for all ages. With a small team of VLP staff and volunteers, the Disco Committee confirms the theme, decor, site selection, and any menu updates. Staff and committee solicit donations, hire the graphic designer, and sign on the disc jockey, and make volunteer arrangements.  

Critical to the Disco’s fundraising success are the in-kind gifts from neighborhood merchants: Gertrude’s at the BMA, 32nd Street Farmer’s Market, Charmington’s, Giant, Wegman’s Food Market, Insomnia Cookies, Union Memorial Hospital, Wine Source, Guilford Hall Brewery, The Brewers Art, and Peabody Heights Brewery. The Disco continues to be a treasured recipient of great neighborhood largesse.  

The Village Learning Place’s cadre of Board members, long-time community volunteers, and staff put in hours of additional time. Daniel Wasse, owner of Korarima, will run the kitchen crew this year to make this fabulous meal happen. As they have for several years now, volunteers from Johns Hopkins University’s service fraternities will do a lot of hands-on work including set-up, serving, cake-cutting, and clean-up. Once the spaghetti is served and the cake is cut, disco music rules the rest of the evening. Everyone hits the floor, dancing to throw-back tunes spun by volunteer DJ Acme Happenings (our neighborhood DJ, Paul Weber).  

Spaghetti Disco at The R. House Garage is THE place to be on March 11th. Spangled shirts, bell-bottoms and miniskirts are not required (but encouraged and welcomed!). Come for the spaghetti, stay for the disco dancing, and remember to thank the cadre of volunteers who create this once-a-year very special event.

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