Brace yourselves for another afternoon of heartburn. The Birds take on Washington for a chance to stay in the playoff hunt, so keep some Tums nearby. Later in the newsletter, we take a look at one of our most ambitious projects this year, which highlighted the deep history of ballroom culture and how Philadelphia played an essential role in expanding its success worldwide.

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The week ahead

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Behind the story with

Each week we go behind the scenes with one of our reporters or editors to discuss their work and the challenges they face along the way. This week we chat with Cassie Owens, who was part of the team that produced the Inquirer’s long-form multimedia piece, Legendary: 30 Years of Philly Ballroom with Raishad Hardnett and Lauren Schneiderman.

What sparked your interest in covering the ballroom scene?

The story was video journalist Raishad Hardnett’s idea. He learned that the 30th anniversary of Philadelphia’s first ball was coming up and saw an opportunity. I’m so happy that he did and that he asked me to come aboard the team.

What was one thing you didn’t know about the scene that you found fascinating?

I had no idea how the competition categories truly worked. There are so many, each with their own histories, criteria, and distinctions from one another. It took months to be able to understand the flow of things or why someone might have gotten eliminated.

For those who are interested in learning more about the ballroom scene, how can they find out more information?

There’s a lot out there — documentaries, TV shows, reporting, the whole nine. Out magazine does consistent coverage of the scene, as do other outlets. And Viceland’s docuseries My House is fantastic.

Where do you see ballroom culture going in the future?

I see ballroom expanding: more countries, more participants, fatter cash prizes, and higher stakes. It will be interesting to see how ballroom changes with that. Our sources told us it’s already changed tremendously.

If there’s one thing you hope readers take away from your story, what would it be?

I hope that readers can see that the legacy in Philly truly runs deep. There’s a comparison to be made to hip-hop — ballroom nestled in Philly early and hasn’t left since.

You can connect with Cassie, Raishad, and Lauren through Twitter at @cassieowens, @raishadmomar, and @lschneiderman_ or by email at,, and

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Comment of the week

We’re all paying for that lovely new Comcast Technology Tower they just built. That building houses about 8000 new jobs for Philly. Those jobs pay taxes to the city so all Philadelphians benefit in the grand scheme of things. Oops ... I forgot ... Philly City Council wastes all those new taxes. — Jt, on Happy holidays from Comcast. Your cable bill is going up again.

Your Daily Dose of | The UpSide

Back when current KYW journalist Mike DeNardo and Jeanne Smith worked together when Smith owned The Journal newspaper, Smith sent DeNardo a Christmas card. It was signed “next year you can mail this card back to me.” So the following year, DeNardo did just that. And then she mailed it to him the next year. This has been going on for the last 37 years of their friendship.