No, not that kind of flashdance.
Last night I danced again in a flash mob in the name of One Billion Rising. We convened on the Capital Square in Madison on the same evening as the most popular (and populous) Concert on the Square of the season, the night they commemorate of the American Revolution, ending with the 1812 Overture and the cannon. But before all that ballyhoo, came us–Dianne Brakarsh’s mobilization of our local cell of One Billion Rising, the global campaign that calls for an end to violence, and for justice and gender equality. What a radical idea.
Dianne had laid blankets out to reserve our dance space that afternoon. She tucked protest signs out of sight under them. She made a million phone calls and fielded a billion emails to get a sound system. Full Compass rented us a pair of Rolands at a discount. At 5:30 about two dozen women (hiding our red and black under jackets and shirts) convened and hung out on the blankets. Dianne came rolling along w/ her Rolands disguised as a picnic cooler–had plates & a table cloth bungeed on top. “Glad we’ll have enough beer,” we jokingly called out to her. We hung out and hung out some more.
Prerecorded music came from the concert stage; how would our music get through? One of us went to ask them to turn it down. She was told there’d be a 20-minute break before the real concert started. 6:40 became our cue. It arrived–Dianne unleashed the speakers, we pushed back the blankets, revealed our colors, and rose to our feet. Comrades picked up the signs and stood on the balustrade, great visibility. “My body my choice.” “NO Ultrasound.” More about that in a minute.
Just so you get the idea, here’s one of the many One Billion Rising videos on YouTube, choreographed and performed by the children of New Light, an NGO working in the red light area of Kalighat, Kolkata, India.
If I find some pictures of our flash mob, I’ll post them. Here’s a video–sorry the production values aren’t quite up there w/ New Light. (Don’t look for me–I was at the far end from the videographer. I’m that puff of apricot-colored hair in the very background.)
Dianne has led dancers in two previous flash mobs: the first was Madison’s part in the global protest on Valentine’s Day this year. The second came in April when Dianne’s group participated in the Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault (WCASA) observance of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
What mobilized us this time was Gov. Scott Walker’s intent to sign the ultrasound bill into law. The bill mandates results of the ultrasound including images, a description of the fetus and a visualization of the fetal heartbeat be provided to any woman seeking an abortion in Wisconsin.
And that’s just wrong. White men who manipulate elections should not be able to decide what I and my sisters do. Our bodies, our choice. Not his, theirs, or yours. So I danced. Flash-danced for women’s independence from men’s control.
I’m liking this new identity I’ve found–part of a radical cell of women of many ages, and a few of our male friends and supporters, able to mobilize at Dianne’s call to shake our tail feathers for women’s rights. It’s cool to listen to the young women compare notes on being brought along on protest rallies with their mothers. “My first was in 1991, protesting the Gulf War.” It’s cool getting to know my peers, the lithe grannies. “My kids and grand kids are in Berkeley, you’d think I’d want to live there, but I just didn’t like the vibe. Madison kept calling me.”
Life is good here, now. Working to keep it that way.