Flashdance – what a feeling to help victims of abuse

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? Well, it’s 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.

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.

The first one took place in 2003 and since then they have appeared in a variety of unusual places. They appear out of nowhere and just as quickly disappear again.

There are a number of these flashmobs being secretly planned across the region.

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 of next week – 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 1,000 people from across the Borders and north Northumberland either along to the free 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 author of The Vagina Monologues, Eve Ensler.

She founded the global activist movement against such violence, started the annual V Day events and she allows the play’s script to be used by amateur drama groups for a two-month period each year, 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.

Karen commented: “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.”

Karen and four others, mostly family members, have performed the play three times. They are currently preparing for their third season, although the venue is not yet finalised.

She told us: “We work in partnership with local organisations. 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 special as it is the 15th anniversary of the 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 workplaces to strike and dance in the streets.”

Karen explained: “She calls the event One Billion Rising as one in 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.

“It’s an outrageous idea, and we have had the outrageous idea to get 1,000 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.