Dancing for the Empress

Women blow up balloons and pink flamingoes around protest sign on fenceAs a student journalist for The Charlatan at Carleton University, I remember being accused of lacking objectivity. As I recall, someone screamed “she’s an advocacy journalist” across the newspaper office during a staff meeting.

Anyone reading this blog knows that many of the posts here represent my point of view about issues affecting my home neighbourhood of NDG. That includes my take on the fate of the old Empress (Cinema V) building.

In spite of the label pinned on me years ago, I usually stay on the sidelines when I’m writing articles. I like to have some distance from the people I’m writing about.

But these latest developments affecting the Empress have outraged me enough I joined Friends of the Empress and some “dancivists” for a flash mob in front of the Empress yesterday. The song? Walk Like An Egyptian by The Bangles.

My friends know I hate having my photo taken and I’ve never had any ambition to appear on television. Being in the flash mob involved being filmed by two different TV crews (this included a cameraman zooming in on us as we passed him) and being photographed by print and online journalists.

Trying out different moves for Walk Like an Egyptian was great fun. So was improvising to the tune of Let’s Do the Time Warp Again. But I still don’t like being in front of any sort of camera.

I was greatly impressed by the hard work organizers, especially Marlo Turner Ritchie, did for this event. Marlo was fantastic leading our group through the dancing (she says her mom was an aerobics instructor in the 1980s). The dance moves were simple and easy to follow. Silly too. We did the “Egyptian” hand motions you see in The Bangles video. But we were also asked to “bring it on,” make boxing motions, pretend to be servers, pretend to be students and then “throw” our books away, hold hands in a circle, swing our partners, the list goes on.

The idea of holding a dance demo was brilliant. Instead of the usual moaning and complaining, with a flash mob citizens can use dance and music to express their displeasure with borough officials, yet also show their hopes for a different Empress.

Now if only this positive energy would translate into cooperation and change for the Empress. This Wednesday’s borough council meeting will be the test of that.

People dancing in front of the Empress buildingSign hanging on fence in front of Empress buildingProtest sign sits in Empress building window

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