Yesterday I danced with my granddaughter in the “Break the Chain” flash mob in Washington Park as part of the One Billion Rising event that I mentioned before. If you look at the New York video, you can see Lila dancing on the left.
She also held a sign at the beginning of the dance.
It was interesting to compare the flash mob dances between Justin Herman Plaza in San Francisco on January 26 and the Washington Square Park event. In San Francisco, about 100 women had rehearsed beforehand, showed up an hour early, and went through three run-throughs of the dance with music and a leader with a microphone calling the steps. We got exact instructions on how to go to the plaza, where to sit, and how to rise into our flash mob from the audience at the Roe vs. Wade anniversary rally. It was all very smooth. We ended by handing out roses to the audience.
At Washington Square Park, about a dozen women arrived early, and the group swelled to about 100, but no leader appeared. Many women had never rehearsed the dance (which is pretty complex) and wanted to learn it there. There were a few impromptu rehearsals, and lots of good will. About 15 minutes before our set time, the organizer appeared, and we had a rehearsal and some quick instructions. Then we all went over to the arch, gathered and did the dance with music from a big boom box. People joined in who just simply stepped in time to the music and it was more raggedy. Then it was so much fun that everybody wanted to do it again, and we did.
And I thought that the West Coast was supposed to be laid back! Apparently in NY, you just show up and do whatever you want. What was the same between the coordinated event and the raggedy one was the joyous energy of the dance. You can see many versions here.
We also walked across Brooklyn Bridge at 4 pm with a group holding signs and chanting. This event was particularly disorganized, and seemed to fizzle out with the disappearance of the leader with the bullhorn. Even Lila, enthusiastic at the beginning, was disgusted when a little clump of us ended up on a traffic island in Brooklyn trying to get drivers to honk in soidarity.
Activist events always leave me a little sad, and make me wonder what things would be like if the people in the streets were actually in power…though probably not worse than they are now.