One Billion Rising-Dance, Dance, Dance!

Amazingly clear blue sky, so lucky after days of snow and sleet!  It all started as a humble group of women coming together wrapped up in pink scarves to symbolise the One Billion Rising campaign to end violence against women happening across the world today. "Eve Ensler started this concept about 15 years back. She started urging people to come together and raise their voice against violence against women on the day which is supposed to be the day of love. And today, this day is observed in almost 160 countries," said social activist Jammu Anand. This has been brought into sharper focus because of the recent acts of violence against women in India and the lack of rapid governmental intervention.  This means that communities such as this one that created a new light production have had to take action into their own hands.  It is not just in India this violence is happening.  One reason I joined was a powerful story I read in the paper when I was researching in France about Samira Bellil who died at age 31.  She was gang raped twice by people she knew in her restricting traditional community.  She found peace through writing and drama.  "She wanted to fall in love, be normal, but she didn`t have time; after a life of violence, and a short period of respite, she was defeated by cancer.  She deserved better.  You can read her obituary here
      In Salzburg The Women`s office of Salzburg and associations such as Spektrum and Thinc came together to raise awareness of this pertinent topic through joyous dance, in this way attempting to transform the collective pain.  We moved like one organism through the center of usually sleepy Salzburg. Traffic stopped and we followed a car blaring out music like Angelikic Kidjo in between the Break the Chain theme song.

Taking young and teenage girls into the streets, with women from all ages, at first a little tentative and even embarrassed gradually, gaining confidence in numbers, we danced from the Diva cafe one side of Salzburg`s Old Town, to the main bridge in town.
 Many nationalities were represented with spokespeople for Spanish, Turkish, German and Hungarian women.  The men joined in too, not as many as we would have liked, but a few brave ones.  In fact one, ran so joyfully right into the heart of the crowd, it`s all about equality.
Passersby joined in with the dancing and people hung out of the widows from their homes and hotels cheering us on and dancing from their bedrooms above us.
 The major joined in and spoke of people rising all across the world. 
 Teenage girls felt proud to be a part of it, having created their own banners and face-paints after knowing what has been happening for a while without being brought to attention.
The energy started to ripple and break across the crowd as twilight fell and the whole of the main part of the city stopped as we danced across the bridge.  Try taking photos when you are so busy dancing to beats from all over the world, not so easy!  This one young teenage boy, dressed in eighties gear with a hooded top and leather jacket was mesmerised by these usually shy and silent women, dancing, clapping, and singing.  Later, when the choreographed dance started-up, he watched my every learnt move and in a second he was doing the movements for himself, but with a difference.  Holding a valentine`s rose between his teeth he took each move and put in his own twist and danced around and with the other young teenage girls present.  They responded and smiled and put their own twist onto the the learnt choreographed dance.  They were having a dialogue with each other through dance and both feeling good and empowered by it.  Such expressions give me renewed hope for what relations between men and women could be.  Gender boundaries can be blurred and we can re-imagine how learned patterns, rules, systems can be re-interpreted and expressed in a different way, letting the oppression and suffering just fall away.
 The really young ones seemed to love it too! We came together with a choreographed dance every ten minutes then freestyle.

 When we finally got to outside Republic, night had fallen and the energy was like a carnival.  Men and women were now dancing with each other, we formed a party style atmosphere that we broke with speeches reminding us all what we were here for.  For the women who had suffered and are still suffering senseless violence.  We are rising up against these acts and dancing for the joy and liberation of our bodies and minds.  To live equally with men.

 We danced on into the night, more freestyle, chatting with each other, sharing experiences, talking about what next...a general feeling of elation was spreading through the winter night air.
 Even men showed up to join in the fun and we hugged feeling for once not against each other but with each other. 
See people rising from all over the world: and in German see Anja Hagnauer`s blog: