This page includes details of a new period of growth as Seahorse entered the 21st Century, reaching out to city and country members, and also came to grips with computer technology and the internet.
The year 2001, the 30th anniversary of the foundation of Seahorse, saw the advent of the Seahorse Ball. It was held at the Gazebo Hotel in Kings Cross. In an effort to lift the profile of Seahorse in the community and to celebrate our Society and our members, the Seahorse committee had decided to organise a special event, the Seahorse Ball. While similar events had been run in Melbourne and Canberra, this was the first time something like this had been planned for Sydney. Contemporary reports indicate that it was a very successful night.
The venue of the second Seahorse Ball was the Millennium Hotel at Kings Cross, held on June 29th, 2002, and drew a crowd of about 170 people.
From 2003, the Seahorse Ball became a more regular yearly event and the venue moved to the Mercure Sydney Airport Hotel (Previously known as the Airport Hilton) where it has been held every year since, as it offered a large ballroom, quality accommodation and was close to Sydney Airport, making it handy for out of town, inter-state and overseas attendees. It was not held, however, in 2004, because of conflict within the Society.
The Ball has always been well-attended, attracting large numbers, including inter-state and international visitors, as well as many partners, family, friends and supporters of Seahorse. Julia, President 2006-2011, has always been the driving force behind the Ball, given her background in the entertainment industry. We can credit the success of the Ball, largely to her efforts. Julia stepped down from this role after the 2012 Ball.
While there have been critics of the format, location and cost of the Ball, it has been a consistently successful event and has always been well attended. Some years it has been run at a small profit, and other years at a small loss.
In addition to the Ball, Seahorse began having a yearly Christmas Party Harbour Cruise, beginning in December 2008. 50 to 60 members and guests attend each year and it is a very popular event.
Seahorse first had an Internet presence with its early Geocities website in 1996. The Society's first internet-savvy member, Amanda, set it up and ran it. It was in 2000 that Seahorse first added a field for email address on its application form. By 2002, seahorsesoc.org domain name was registered and the website had moved there by 2004. Amanda, in her other role as Membership Secretary, also introduced electronic database of members details.
Unfortunately, the role of webmistress passed from person to person, each with varying web skills, so that by 2007, the website had become a rather disorganised patchwork of webpages, hard to navigate and looking very 1990's in style. It had limited useful information and was infrequently updated. The Seahorse Forum was rarely used by members and was mainly populated by spammers.
Using the WayBack Machine, you can view earlier versions of the website;
Here is what the original Geocities website looked like in 2001
In January 2008, while I was a then relatively new member, the Seahorse website was brought into the next millennium with a major revamp, including a much more modern design, clear navigation and much more useful content. On-line membership application and the ordering of Seahorse function tickets were made available in 2009. As a result, the number of applications to join Seahorse went from less than 30 per year, to over 50 per year, and over 70 in 2011. The ease of application does however means that people sometimes impulsively apply for membership, but then do not follow it through.
Here is what the first major overhaul of the website looked like in February 2008
Here are subsequent, but less extensive, website redesigns and tweaks:
From late 2009, an electronic version of the monthly magazines was emailed to members, creating substantial savings in the printing, envelopes and postage of the magazines. It also lessened the Magazine Editor's hard work of posting the magazine to members, by reducing the number of magazines to be posted, from well over one hundred to just forty or less each month.
From the late 2000's, increased income from a larger number of membership subscriptions and lower overheads from the use of electronic magazines, has meant that Seahorse's financial position has been very secure and growing steadily, and this has meant that there has been no need to increase membership fees or Ball ticket prices. The Christmas Party ticket price went up slightly from $50 to $60, because of switching to a better boat.
The Seahorse Forum was reactivated in 2009 and was actively administered, and became very popular.
The website, by now frequently updated, greatly expanded and became the repository of many cross-dressing resources, such as articles and information in the Resources Section. The Members-only Section, created in 2009, allowed members access to back copies of the magazines, committee minutes and photos from Seahorse functions. A Partners Section was created in 2011.
Moves to involve and support country and rural members began in 2006 with yearly Outreach Seminars in several regional centres, including Coffs Harbour, Dubbo, Yass, and Nowra. These were somewhat along the lines of the seminars of 1976-77 and had hoped to attract support counselors, as well as country members.
Unfortunately, these were not as well attended as had been hoped and were later replaced with a more social event, the Country-City Get-together Weekends, the first held at Bathurst in May 2012, and repeated in 2013 and 2014. The event moved to Tamworth in 2015 and was very well-attended, with nearly 20 attendees, including 2 from Brisbane.
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