The North Opal Street crew (seen here in less socially distant times) is planning a 'door party'

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On Tuesday night, longtime education activist and North Philly community organizer Sylvia P. Simms is helping kick off a new project.

Organized by the same folks who helped Philly break the record for longest Soul Train, it’s called the Citywide Doorway Dance Party for Essential Workers.

“We have a lot of essential workers on our block,” said Simms. “I see them getting up and going to work every day. If it wasn’t for those people on the ground, a lot of stuff in the city just wouldn’t be happening.”

Sanitation workers, carpenters, an undertaker, people who work with the homeless, program officers at city shelters, IRS agents, Cigna staffers, SEPTA drivers, Amazon workers, cashiers, chefs, home care assistants. These are some of the jobs being done by Sims’ neighbors, she said — jobs that haven’t stopped because of the pandemic.

“I appreciate the doctors and the nurses on the front lines every day,” Simms added, “but it seems like nobody ever says thank you to the little people.”

How can we thank them? Come to your doorway at 6:30 p.m. and join your neighbors in stamping your feet, shaking your hips and moving to the music.

The idea comes from communications consultants Sheila Simmons and Manwell Glenn. They’re calling on local radio stations to help lead the way by doing a 6:30 p.m. daily broadcast of the two songs selected to kick things off.

To start, they’re going with the “Rocky” theme and “Ain’t No Stopping Us Now,” which Simmons described as “the quintessential Sound of Philadelphia anthem that reminds us of who we are.”

So far, the songs will be aired nightly on:

  • Classic 107.9
  • 100.3 RnB
  • Hip Hop 103.9
  • Praise 107.9 on the HD2 channel and stream

“I know my boss [state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta] will be participating,” Simmons said. “We have reached out to a member of the Mayor’s office.”

Radio broadcast or not, people are encouraged to play the two songs, or create alternate mixes, and post videos of their dances on TikTok or other social media using the hashtags #DoorwayDanceParty and #PhillyEssentialWorkers.

A daily cheer hasn’t yet taken off in Philly like in some cities and towns. An earlier effort to copy NYC’s nightly 7 p.m. applause caught on in some neighborhoods but not others, and the associated hashtag never gained widespread use.

Organizers are hoping the homegrown version will get more traction — especially with the help of community-connected people like Simms.

“We’re gonna get a playlist of all jamming music and just have one big…door party,” Simms said, laughing at the term. “People know O-Block is always pumping.”

Danya Henninger was first editor and then editor/director of Billy Penn at WHYY from 2019 to 2023.