Belly dancing, Charleston and keepy-uppies – civic participation in action


This morning I was delving further into Bowling Alone (more notes to follow); by this evening I found myself performing at the Charity Gala, Oak View School – part of the Loughton Festival, and the sort of charity event that this book both celebrates and of which it reports the decline.

I had long had this evening’s dancing gig in my diary but I hadn’t really found out anything about it until I arrived. We cobbled together our routine in the car park – which provoked a few stares) and then went in for the show. I was quite astounded by how eclectic the mix was. We were preceeded by a belly dancing troupe, a folk group who sang about dismembered limbs, and a mandolin player (that we didn’t see because we were busy rehearsing our moves). Ours was the Charleston routine that we have used to tread the boards of a fair few Essex venues now; nevertheless I am glad we got that car park rehearsal in – it paid off. But the show stopper was the guy after us who did endless keepy-uppies to music. It’s amazing what hidden talents people have. The world is a better place for them!

I won’t know what Joseph Putman says about how to reverse the decline in social and charitable events until I get to the final section of his book; I would like to think that belly dancing, Charleston and keepy-uppies have a role to play.