The Sixth A. A. International Convention

The sixth AA International Convention was held in Denver in 1975. It was the first at which neither Dr. Bob nor Bill was present. But to remind everyone that they were still there in spirit, the platform of Currigan Hall was decorated with portraits of them, with a 30-foot replica of the Big Book between them.

Lois, of course, was there, and as active as ever. Al S., Bill's good friend of whom I wrote in my post on the 1965 convention in Toronto, led the huge "spiritual meeting" and Lois gave a very moving talk.

Nell Wing, Bill's secretary, said that her predominant impression of the Denver convention was "crowds, crowds, crowds." GSO had planned for 12,000 and about 20,000 showed up. The workshops and panel meeting rooms were "hopelessly jammed," and at the big meetings the crowds overflowed Currigan Hall into a sports arena across the street where the talks were carried on a closed-circuit TV screen. Nell remembers that the fire department was a bit alarmed at the overcrowding of the halls.

Nell attended this time, not as Bill's assistant, but as the A.A. archivist, working with George G., chairman of the Trustees' Archives Committee. As of 1992, when Nell's book was published, George was still serving as a consultant to the Trustees' Archives Committee. Nell was grateful for his "contributions to the organizing and supervision in the earliest days of the archives," and for his friendship. Nell and George spent most of their time in Denver seeking out the early members and interviewing them on tape. Nell said it was a heart-warming experience, and she kept up with these old-timers by mail.

Anticipating the great demand for coffee, an "entrepreneur" rigged the world's largest coffee maker with servers on both sides of the balcony at the convention hall. Nell reports that "It had a capacity of 50,000 cups a day.

The coffee was brewed in huge tanks or vats and piped to a bank of dozens of spigots where we helped ourselves after paying a quarter a cup. It worked fine and was the talk of the convention, but the coffee itself -- well, I've tasted better!"

The opening session on Friday night began with a flag ceremony. As the name of each country was called over the public address system, spotlights shown on the flag, and, with music from the country (perhaps its national anthem) being played, its flag was carried down the aisle and onto the stage. A.A.s from 29 countries paraded their flags. When they arrived on the stage, each flag bearer stepped up to the microphone and repeated the conference theme, "Let It Begin With Me," in his or her native language.

Alkathon meetings ran each day. One such meeting, the "drum and dance meeting" was presented by Indian A.A. groups. Ernest Kurtz reports that between each talk, "the huge drum spoke in tribute to the Higher Power that the leader chose to call the Great Spirit, and A.A.s in the regalia of many tribes went on to the Arena floor to dance -- but not alone. They reached out their hands, and soon white A.A.s and black A.A.s were on the floor with them."


Grateful To Have Been Thereİ, by Nell Wing.
Not Godİ, by Ernest Kurtz

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