Today, 29th April 2023, International Dance Day, women gathered at Picadilly Circus in London to ‘dance for freedom’.
The official website for International Dance Day, which started in 1982, says: “This day is a celebration day for those who can see the value and importance of the art form ‘dance’, and acts as a wake-up-call for governments, politicians and institutions which have not yet recognised its value to the people and to the individual and have not yet realised its potential for economic growth.”
The human rights organisation One Law For All and Women’s Liberation Movement
FiLiA charity arranged #Dance4Freedom to defend and support the woman’s revolution in Iran.
It was a hot and dry afternoon as we made our way to Picadilly, where tourists and break dancers mingled on the island at the junction of half a dozen busy London streets.
For 45 minutes, women from Iran, England, and other countries would dance on the statue steps to show solidarity with women and girls in Iran.
The length of the dancing was to symbolise the time it took for the morality police to call an ambulance after 22 year old Mahsa Amini collapsed and died when in detention in Tehran in 2022. Amini was detained whilst at a railway station with her brother, accused of not complying with hijab rules and arrested. Three days later, the 22 year old was dead. Her death led to protests throughout Iran and the rest of the world.
Some of the women dancing, like myself, had come to this part of town specifically to show support. Others just happened to be passing by and joined in. Many people stood and watched. Women handed out copies of the ‘Woman Life Freedom Charter’ to passers-by.
Before the dancing started, Maryam Namazie, spokeswoman for One Law For All, called for “an end to the Islamic regime of Iran” and a “free and equal and better society.”.
We were taught the simple dance by Faranak Heidari, who, before the dancing began, sung a lullaby for all the women and girls who have lost their lives in Iran. You can see a short clip of her singing here.
The dance consisted of simple hand movements and we swayed and tapped our feet. At one point we all held our hair in the air (see below top right), at others we looked down at the ground or made a salute of solidarity.
Many of the women who joined in were passers-by. A blonde woman in her sixties watched for a while before joining us on the steps and dancing next to me. At one point during the dance we all held our arms up high and joined hands, total strangers united in making this small gesture of solidarity. After dancing with us for a few minutes, she thanked us, sniled, rejoined her friend and went on her way.
Some little girls joined in the dancing, including a toddler barely big enough to be able to stand. Her dad placed her at the front of the group as people clapped and cheered, and Heidari held her up to the watching crowd. Two little girls in matching T shirts also joined in, one giving a solemn power salute of her own.
A few days before the event, One Law for All and FiLiA released the folowing press statements:
Maryam Namazie – Spokeswoman for One Law For All
“We must continue to honour Mahsa Jina Amini and defend ‘Woman, Life, Freedom’
for the women of Iran, Afghanistan and across the globe. This revolution will herald a
new dawn if only we support it, encourage it, and defend it. Imagine what the world
will look like when a misogynist theocracy is overthrown by a woman’s revolution.”
Freya Papworth – Spokeswoman for FiLiA Charity
“It is our duty, as feminists and as women who recognise patriarchal oppression and
violence in all its forms, to stand in solidarity with the women of Iran who have been
brutalised by the Islamic regime and who still fight back and believe in a better world.
There is hope for real change and we ask all women who support this fight for
freedom, to join us in this dancing protest.”