Flashmob fever hits in lead up to ‘One Billion Rising’ dance event

Brownies, cubs, girl guides and scouts in Kelso High School rehearsing a dance to be performed as part of a 'Flash Mob' national event.
Brownies, cubs, girl guides and scouts in Kelso High School rehearsing a dance to be performed as part of a 'Flash Mob' national event.

FLASHMOBS are likely to be popping up all over the Borders in the next few days - leading up to the worldwide day of action to end violence against women and girls.

What exactly is a flashmob? A sudden gathering of people into a crowd that do something unusual such as perform a choreographed dance for a few minutes and then disperse. The first one took place in 2003 and since then they have appeared in the most unlikely places - last year there was one at Glendale Agricultural Show at Wooler.

You could be shopping on the high street, walking along the beach, or working at Scottish Borders Council headquarters when out of nowhere a flashmob starts up, and just as quickly disappears again.

There are a number of these flashmobs being secretly planned across the region - but when and where? You’ll just have to wait and see!

The flashmob spectaculars are likely to involve people of all ages and both the dancers and surprised spectator reactions will be caught on film that will be screened at the ‘One Billion Rising’ event at Kelso’s Springwood Park on Thursday, February 14 - the worldwide day of action.

Event organisers Karen Lerpiniere, from Swinton, and Andrea Beavon, Violence Against Women Partnership and Domestic Abuse, co-ordinator at Scottish Borders Council, are hoping to get 1000 people from across the Borders and north Northumberland either along to the free ‘One Billion Rising’ event at Kelso or to take part in the flashmobs.

As well as the local flashmob events, ‘One Billion Rising’ events from across the world will be screened at Springwood Park, and those taking part will learn their own dance, led by FitBorders instructors, which will be filmed and simultaneously broadcast around the world.

This day of worldwide action to end violence against women and girls is the idea of ‘The Vagina Monologues’ author Eve Ensler. Eve founded the global activist movement to end such violence, started the annual V Day events and as part of it she allows the play’s script to be released to amateur drama groups for a two month period each year(March/April); the proceeds going to worldwide and local organisations that are trying to improve the lives of women and change the attitude of the minority of men who abuse them.

“The reason I became involved is that I saw a professional version of ‘The Vagina Monologues’ and thought it would be a giggle to put it on with an amateur cast but the more I found out about it and found out about V Day and the women victims of rape and other forms of violence I realised there was a serious side to it,” said Karen.

Karen and four others, mostly family members, have performed the play three times now - their first performance being in the Heart of Hawick venue in 2011 (which raised money for Children 1st), followed by two performances at The Maltings Theatre in Berwick (for Northumberland based Cease 24). They are currently preparing for their third season, returning to the Scottish side of the border, although the venue is not yet finalised.

“We work in partnership with local organisations,” added Karen. “I contacted Andrea to say we were thinking of doing this, could she help out, and where we could send money to locally.

“At the time she had been trying to organise a 16 days of action awareness event about domestic abuse and our production of ‘The Vagina Monologues’ became part of their 16 days of action.”

“This year is a special year as its the 15th anniversary of the very first performance of the play and Eve is calling on women, and the men who love them, from across the world to come out of their homes and work places to strike and dance in the streets.

“She calls the event one billion rising. The reason being that one to three women will suffer some kind of sexual violence in their lifetime which equates to one billion people and she wants to get one billion people together to rise up against the violence,” Karen explained.

“It’s an outrageous idea, and we have had the outrageous idea to get 1000 people getting together in the Borders.”

So if you’re over 16 years of age, get yourself along to Springwood Park on February 14, at 6pm.