A personal account from on the ground at the National Rejoin March with Swindon for Europe and our Dance Europa (Strictly European) team.
It was all go and rush for us dancers when the National Rejoin March suddenly started moving. I said “Quick! Cut down that side street, get ahead of them, stick the music on and start …”. We scampered off, pulling the trolly with our amp and the rest of our gear. We’d just dragged it all the way from Paddington because there’d been transport problems; our youngest, fittest dancer, Ciara, my daughter, hadn’t even arrived yet!
Standing on the corner of Green Park and Park Lane, fumbling with Ipod and amplifier switches, we heard a growing roar, like an express train. Ciara arrived panting and struggled into costume and at that moment a vast sea of blue surged round the corner, with banners and flags, shouts and whistles, chanting “Rejoin the EU!”. The noise was deafening and the emotion was palpable. With adrenaline pumping I shout “Go! Music on! Now!”.
We can’t hear the beat but we start stamping the Spanish Pasodoble steps anyway … and suddenly the words of our opening track: ‘Power to the People!’ are ringing out over the march and a tidal wave of people sweeps over us and around us and we’re mobbed, with dozens of cameras on us and a cheering crowd closing in. We push them back. We claim the space with dance itself … with the gestures of Spain, and Ballet, and Italo Disco, French Cafe, CanCan, German robotics, Irish, English Morris and Hornpipe, Greek, Balkan and Street BreakDance/EuroFolkDance Electro mashup.
None of this is easy at 64 with a double hip replacement and history of knee surgery. Also my wife, Marisa from Germany, also has no cartilage or ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) in one knee: the scars of ex professional dancers. But we feel it HAS to be done, (and it’s amazing what you can overcome if you know how to pull up your core!). Saturday we just had to race on, get ahead of the march and do it all again, and again, cutting across roads and parks, heaving the trolley over fences. Thank God we had young muscle with us: our Swindon for Europe Secretary, Sam, an NHS data scientist, whom we’re teaching leaps and dance moves I can no longer perform. With Sam’s young Italian wife, Lucia and Clara’s Mexican husband, Alberto helping. We were a totally international, intergenerational pro-European team!
It was a very intense and emotional day for the marchers, but especially for the organisers. The National Rejoin March committee had been working nonstop, as the march had to be hurriedly reorganised after original date, 10 September had been cancelled (due to the Queen’s passing). Also many would be away for half term, so we weren’t expecting so many to show up and some felt it was a mistake to go ahead. Worse, the years since 2019 have been one long media and government blackout on Brexit, so many people have been conditioned to feel that to question our awful relationship with Europe is somehow rude, and the pro-European movement has been mostly suppressed … until now!
Saturdays turn out, against all odds was remarkable. Organisers estimated 50,000 marchers. The strength of feeling for Europe and connection is very intense and should not be suppressed by any government, political party or newspaper. We’re here, loud and proud, and we’re not going to be quiet about the disaster of Brexit!
Watch videos of our many performances here in this Google Photos link.
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