People browsing at the Kelowna Farmers’ and Crafters’ Market got more than they bargained for last weekend.
At around 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, shoppers were surprised by Kelowna’s first “Shimmy Mob,” a flash mob-type belly dance event meant to raise awareness about domestic abuse.
The Kelowna Shimmy Mob coincided with many others happening around the world for World Belly Dance Day, the second Saturday of May.
Leona Finlayson, who has been involved with the event since it originated in Vancouver eight years ago, led about 15 women dancers from the market to three other locations around the city throughout the day.
She said their first performance was more of a flash mob than the others.
At the market, she said the women covered their T-shirts with hoodies or sweatshirts until they were in position. They only put their hip scarves on when the music was about to start.
As the day progressed, she said, they kept their T-shirts and hip scarves visible to increase awareness of the event.
“Almost like opening up a present in the morning and then you’re showing off the present all day long,” she said.
The other three performances took place at Stuart Park, The Sails and Vibrant Vines, where the 2019 HM Commercial Group Ride for Autism ended later in the day.
At each location, Finlayson and the group performed choreography for one song played from a portable music player, wearing matching orange “Shimmy Mob” T-shirts.
The dancers accepted donations for the Kelowna Women’s Shelter after each of their performances.
Finlayson told the Capital News that the women are planning to perform their Shimmy Mob choreography one last time at Yamas Greek Restaurant.
Details for the event will be made available on her Facebook page and donations to the shelter will be accepted after that performance.
She also said belly dancing is a great way to create change when it comes to domestic abuse, “one shimmy at a time.”
“It’s about inviting women into a safe place where they can learn how their body works and developing that confidence in who they are and where they are at in life,” she said.
“I’ve seen in the last 20 years how this dance form changes women.”