Meet the OctoTea Organizers

These are the creative and dedicated people who plan, organize, plot and produce the Great Party that is The OctoTea Dance. Around June, they start to meet in coffee shops and living rooms to begin the process, coming up with all the old favorite things that have kept OctoTea so successful over the years, and gently adding a few new things to keep it vibrant and growing. They devote large chunks of their lives over the period of four or more months to be sure that this year’s OctoTea exceeds all expectations.

OctoTea Organizers know how to have fun!

Event Co-Chairs

Mark Erwin: For the past five years, Mark has shepherded OctoTea, and with each year, the event’s success and status has increased. No doubt that this year, it will live up to its reputation as the largest and most exciting dance party in Austin. Mark also heads the essential entertainment committee and personally oversees the sound set up. He is a former Head Octopus

Rich Segal: In his third year with the Tea Dance, Rich not only co-chairs, but serves as chair of the tickets committee. For two years, he has been the official “voice” of OctoTea, as master of ceremonies. Rich is a current Head Octopus.


Bruce Weatherford: For several years, Bruce has been the webmaster for the Octopus Club, keeping the site current and promoting not only OctoTea, but events year-round. He is now assisted by Rick Holmberg. Together they are making the site more interactive, informative and comprehensive than ever.

Corporate Sponsors Committee

Lew Aldridge: Lew founded the Octopus Club in 1989, as a fund-raising arm of AIDS Services of Austin. Since then, he has been a permanent strength and resource for OctoTea. He is assisted by co-chair Brian Thompson, Javier Solis and Bill Peck


Marty Bender: Without hosts, there would be no OctoTea, and for several years, Marty Bender and Frank Garrahan have put together an unparalled group of hosts that continues to grow. One of the smallest of committees produces some of the largest results! Both Marty and Frank are former Head Octopi.

Silent Auction

Paul Albright: Silent auction is probably the most challenging of the committees to chair. Paul and his committee members are everywhere, identifying and collecting treasures to stock the one-of-a-kind shopping area. He is assisted by co-chair Ashley Payne and committee members Tony Cruz, Elton Goddard and Michael Hulse.

Experience Auction

Graydon Parrish: The mysterious and unique Experience Auction is the brainchild of artist Graydon Parrish. New in 2008, the experience auction’s theme this year is “The Five Senses,” so hold on to your hats – anything might happen!

Marketing Committee

As OctoTea has grown it’s marketing needs have grown beyond the ability of any individual. With three Co-Chairs this year, the marketing plan is as large as those of some businesses. Rob Giardinelli has virtually invented the definitive pre-tea event, Lina Begum is responsible for great salon and fashion events as well as working on design, and Mary Morrison has wrangled the social networking, printing, t-shirts, advertising and media scheduling. Jim Wegerbauer, Summer McKee, Ashley Payne, Tim Bailey, Eric Lewis and Micah King have done the hard work of seeing that the plan works. Summer McKee and Stephen Rice are the media faces and voices of OctoTea. Marcus Sanchez is our gifted, tireless and patient graphic artist and designer.

We are inconsolable to lose Rob Giardinelli to his new dream job in San Francisco but the marketing team is dedicated to carrying out the excellent plans he formulated.

Raffle Chair

Brian McElligott is in charge of the raffle this year for the first time. With help from Paul Albright and Tony Cruz, Brian has cobbled together a fabulous Las Vegas trip upholding OctoTea’s tradition of exciting grand prizes.

Volunteer Committee Co-Chairs

Arthur Landin: A current Head Octopus, Arthur is actively recruiting volunteers to help on the day of the event with set-up, tear down, and everything in-between. He has introduced some online innovations in the volunteer process and already has more people signed up than usual.

Ronnie Baker: Co-chairs with Arthur, working to recruit and organize for the second year.

Food and Beverages

Tim Young and Scott Ballew work with caterers, distributors and The Long Center to offer culinary delights and plenteous drinks for OctoTea. They deliberate on contracts, coordinate menus and count cases of liquor to ensure that everyone has something scrumptious at the event. Both are former Head Octopi. Scott – the current Man of Austin – generously contributed to the online publication’s article promoting OctoTea

Logistics and Design

Actually two separate committees, Logistics and Design work so closely together that it’s sometimes hard to tell them apart! Tim Young and Arthur Landin work with Bill Peck to coordinate the look and functions that will grace this year’s OctoTea. Bill is assisted by Ashley Payne. Co-Chair Mark Erwin is closely involved with Logistics, as well.