Meet Gwen and Eric McGeorge
by Larinda McRaven June 13 2018
Gwen and Eric have been part of Capital Thrillers Flashmob Performance team from almost the very beginning. In fact looking back at attendance records Gwen has the highest attendance of all of the group members. She has been a cheerleader, a mentor within the group, a pinch hitting teacher when Larinda has been absent, a chauffeur, offered up her husband's skills and time as well. I sat down with Gwen and Eric to gather their thoughts on life, love, and dancing with Jefferson City's Flashmob Group, The Capital Thrillers. It was a light and easy interview, where their playful personalities really had a chance to come out.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
(Gwen) That I can be quiet. I have to have my quiet.
You are an author, what author inspires you to write?
(Gwen) I have 3. Elizabeth Hunter, Penny Reid, and April White, who have now become friends of mine. Elizabeth Hunter writes a genre that I was never into. She has a whole series on vampires that is adult romance and intrigue. Oh my gosh they are amazing. Her latest book was called Ink, about a tattoo artist that does is job in a bookstore.
(Eric) Penny Reid has the Knitting in the City series. I read things, but I go through a page, lose my place, start all over again. I never make any progress.
(Gwen) So I read out loud to him. He gets a chapter or two a night. April White writes young adult, which I also was never into. She wrote a series called Immortal Descendants. Boy she does her research! Anyway those are my three and I talk to them daily. They have helped me through the business aspect of writing
Do you have a favorite quote or motto in life? A personal mission statement?
(Gwen laughs and rolls up her sleeve to reveal a tattoo on her forearm) “Those who are destined cannot be ignored.” And the other would be “ubi amo ibi patria” Where you are, there I love. That could be your husband, wife, children, family, whatever. That is my foundation!
What causes are you passionate about, what moves you in life?
(Gwen) I am older so I have gone through my passions. The American Cancer society, because I used to work for an oncologist. I did a lot of stuff with the Jefferson City Animal Shelter because I worked at a Vet Clinic for many years. And now it is just any kind of community involvement. I don't like to stick with just one thing. That is one reason I like the Thrillers. We have gone to Heisinger. I loved performing at Kirchner, and I want to go back, and not just a Christmas time! Oh also anything for the Veterans and Law Enforcement, I love my boys in blue and brown.
You have been involved with Capital Thrillers Flashmob group since almost the very beginning. Tell me how you first got involved with the Thrillers and Capital Dance and Movement.
(Gwen) I got a call from Leah Simpson. And she said timidly “Gwenie, I saw this thing. And we can go. It's free. If we don't like it we don't have to go back! They are doing the Thriller dance. I wondered if you would want to go with me?” And I said “Leah, how many people did you call before you called me?” and she said “Well... five." (laughter erupts) "I called your daughter first.” But I thought anyway what the hell. And we have been going ever since.
When your friends and family found out that you performing flashmobs, what do they say?
(Gwen) Nobody was surprised! I have danced my entire life. Our kids loved it. I mean my daughter drives up every year to watch the Haunting of Green Berry.
(Eric) I think everyone has a sense of her being unpredictable. So naturally they were not surprised.
Tell me about some of the people you've met while working with the Capital Thrillers.
(Gwen) Oh I'm gonna get weepy. This has turned out to so much more than the dance. We have new people every year. Some people come in August just to do Thriller and you never see them again. But those that stick it out year round, we do things outside of dance. We eat. We drink. We party. If someone had a flat tire at two in the morning me or Eric would be there to help them change it. If somebody needed bail we would be there to post their bond. The way I look at it is at my age to get something new is an added little gift from God. It is my therapy. It is the friendships. The dance comes second. Sorry Larinda.
(Larinda ) That's fine! That is actually the most important thing for myself as well. It is the bonds that we form as a by-product of the dancing. They actually become primary.
What makes this group special to you?
(Gwen) The women's friendships. I always hung out with boys. We got married young, started a family young. So it is about strong women. It is friendships. The community involvement. The wonderful things it does for your body. Because I have never felt better. I feel better now at the age of 62 than I did at 40. And I weigh 40 pounds less. It is everything.
Tell me about your most favorite experience with Capital Thrillers and Capital Dance and Movement?
(Gwen) This is going to sound silly because I love and remember most all of them. Although there are some dances that I don't remember because I hated them at the time, and muscle memory never kicked in. But I actually think one of my favorite times with the Thrillers we weren't even dancing. But we went to Outpost to visit Carmen. I loved that. It meant so much to her. And so many people showed up. That is how we are! There were about 25 of us there that night, and that makes me feel good.
(Eric) I always like the after party after the Haunting of Green Berry.
What do you find most challenging about the flashmob process?
(Gwen) This might be silly because it really isn't about learning the dancing. Everyone learns that eventually. I would say 'logistics'. It is like when we go Christmas Flashmob/Caroling. There are car loads that get lost. Some get there late. Uptown we have to find parking. Really and truly that is the only difficult part. Other than that it is not difficult.
What motivates you to come back each week, even during the slow season, even in spite of twisted ankles?
(Gwen) The people we are involved with. Easy. The people. Oh and the kids that are intrigued by us. Like when we go up for Zombie Night Live I had a fan club, a string of little kids that followed me and wanted their picture with me. Or the children that I thought would be scared of the witches, but they were not. And then the kids at Kirchner. They might not be able to speak or be able to walk but they love the music and the dancing. And that is awesome.
(Eric) Seeing that in their eyes is awesome.
Any advice for people wanting to try out the group?
(Gwen) You are never too old, never too skinny, never too fat. You are perfect. Come and do it.
If you weren't involved with Capital Thrillers and Capital Dance and Movement, what would you be doing instead?
(Gwen) I always do something creative. Writing, painting, scrapbooking, decorating a room. And I would still be dancing. Eric and I always dance at the house. I have always danced. Even if it is by myself.
(Eric) That is rare though because I always accommodate her when she wants to dance!
The two of you started dating in High school. Gwen, tell me about Eric, what was he like in high school?
(Gwen) I saw him for the first time on the hill at JC's parking lot during band practice. Which is funny to me because I see that hill every day because we close by. I was with a friend, and I had no idea who he was. I could hear Jerry Hoover yelling every five minutes “McGeorge you are out of step!” I looked at my friend and said “Who is that?” She said “You don't know McGeorge?” I said “No but I am going to marry him!” I was 15.
Today also happens to be your wedding anniversary, I learned on facebook, quite by coincidence!! How long have you been married?
(Eric) 43 years. 43 wonderful years.
What is your favorite thing about Eric?
(Gwen, silence, then finally) His patience. His patience and his kindness. (starting to get choked up) He has got a good heart.
Eric you have been very involved as a member of the Capital Thrillers FlashMob Performance group as well, although primarily from a backstage and technical standpoint. Because you work more in a supporting role you don't get any of the performance glory. If you don't get to take a bow and receive applause, what motivates you to run the sound, provide emergency props fixes during a performance, take attendance during rehearsals, and open your home to to a bunch of crazy dancers' gatherings and celebrations? What brings you back every week?
(Eric) I love all of these ladies. Everybody out here...and Dave.... Sometimes I think to myself “I am going to know all of these names in three weeks.” Little challenges. I want to get to know everybody. They are all great people. I just want to be part of the supporting cast. I am good with that. There was a month when you were gone on vacation and I had something to do on Tuesdays nights. Then finally I came back last night and I thought “yeah... it is good to be back. I just hope I remember how to run the attendance program!” I love helping out because it makes me feel good to know that I can help.
Eric, how do you like to spend your free time?
(Gwen) Don't be dirty.
(laughter all around)
(Eric) I like to be project oriented.
(Gwen squirming) G... G... G... GOLF!
(Eric) Well golf used to be the biggie. If I wasn't at home I was at the golf course. But now I am finding that you are never to old to learn something about construction, interior, exterior. But you caught me, I am usually on the golf course. Although if I can find a project and get focused on it I can work pretty long weird hours. It becomes a bit of an obsession. And I take care of my doggies.
And you play guitar.
(Gwen) He plays everything.
(Larinda) Oh what else do you play?
(Eric) I couldn't blow the first part of the National Anthem anymore but I can still play sax. I can pick on the piano. My Mom used to get us some kind of goofy musical instrument for Christmas every year. So I am fluent in kazoo. I am fluent in Lawrence Welk's spoons. And recorder. So yeah I play them all!
(Gwen) Our kids can play spoons too. We continued the tradition with stocking suffers with our kids.
(Eric) The spoons, they are awesome. Just bounce them off your hand and knee.
(Gwen) And then Julie and Jamie would hit each other with them.
If you were stranded on a deserted island, what one band or musician would help keep your sanity?
(Gwen) That is hard.
(Eric) No, no that is not hard for me. It would be the Allman Brothers Band. Easy.
Gwen has some pretty awesome costumes for each Halloween season. Eric do you get private viewings at home?
(Gwen) Well not so much the Gomez Addams costume! (laughter erupts)
(Eric) There is a screening process we go through. It is highly developed. I have been working on it for years.
(Gwen) He straightens up the seams in my fishnets.
(Eric) It is highly technical.
Any last thoughts either of you want to offer?
(Eric) And I would like to say this has been the best thing for 'us”. Because it has been wonderful for her. Anytime we dance I follow her lead. And this has been the best thing for her. When I sit here and watch you all it is amazing that every beat has some movement attached to it. It is amazing to watch you all learn.
(Gwen) That is because we have an amazing teacher.
(Eric) Larinda the level of personal attention you give to each one of these folks is amazing. The patience you have to do that shows up in the final product.
(Gwen) Anyone that is thinking of doing this. Just come try it. You will leave with so much more.