It was around noon on Sunday, October 2, when a flash mob of over 200 Hillary supporters—decked out in a kaleidoscope of colorful pantsuits—descended upon Union Square in New York City. The flash mob's five-minute, high-energy dance set to Justin Timberlake's "Can't Stop the Feeling," played out before a large crowd of unsuspecting pedestrians.
The crowd consisted of professional dancers and other enthusiasts of all ages, races, and genders—all brought together thanks to life partners Celia Rowlson-Hall and Mia Lidofsky. The couple dreamt up the idea of the flash mob last month, and produced the event in just under a week. The dance was meant to serve as a rallying cry for the presidential candidate, who they feel has not received the same level of fervent support as Donald Trump—or, say, Bernie Sanders.
"We just haven't seen the same kind of rallies around her," Rowlson-Hall said after the performance. "And as filmmakers and artists, [Mia and I] felt that we needed to help Hillary out the way that we know how," she continued. "We've been upset to see all the hatred against her, and the focus on her pneumonia, and [the portrayal of] her as a weaker individual when she's so strong, so smart, so eloquent," said Lidofsky. "They shouldn't be sharing the same stage," she added, referring to Donald Trump.
Lidofsky, who just wrapped up filming a TV show for Refinery 29 called Strangers, and Rowlson-Hall, a choreographer who has worked on the show Girls, admit to never having produced a public stunt of this magnitude—let alone in such a short period of time. "I have choreographed a flash mob for a TV show on ABC, and a few others, but I have personally never organized one," Rowlson-Hall shared. "This is the biggest thing I've probably ever been a part of," said Lidofsky.
But for Lidofsky and Rowlson-Hall, Trump's combative debate performance was the last straw. "It's the bigotry and vitriol, [of Donald Trump's campaign that we are responding to]," said Lidofsky. "So we were like, let's come together with what we know, which is love, unity, and community," she added.
"She had that shimmy," Lidofsky said, referring to the candidate's now famous shoulder move during the presidential debate. "She gave us the shimmy," Rowlson-Hall agrees. "And we gave her a dance."
How They Did it
It started with postings on Facebook and Instagram that invited "all dancers, movers and shakers to perform in a pantsuit power dance video," at a secret location, celebrating "badass boss Hillary Clinton...with love unity, and freedom of expression."
Thousands responded, but Lidofsky and Rowlson-Hall settled on 186 participants. Confirmed participants received links to an instructional YouTube video, detailing each dance step. And the organizers provided over 15 hours of rehearsal time at Peridance Capezio Center over the weekend for volunteers to practice the intricate moves.
The pair also enlisted the help of camera operators, stylists, and producers who volunteered in an effort to make the lively spectacle a reality. "Every dancer, stylist, and camera person dedicated their time out of love and wanting to see Hillary win the election," said Lidofsky.
Participants included young children and pregnant women, all wearing candy-colored blazers. Nineteen-year-old Victoria traveled with her mother and sister from Hamilton, New Jersey after seeing the Facebook post. "Celia and the whole group have just been awesome," her mother Gaynell said.
The crowd also included Dr. Rachel Frank. (Frank is my son's pediatrician, but the encounter was entirely coincidental.) Frank signed up herself and her two daughters to participate in the flash mob after spotting a hard copy version of the social media notice at 890 Broadway Dance Studio. She also wrangled two other friends, who also brought their children along with them. "[This was] much better than sitting around and fretting without any sort of direct action," said her friend, Dr. Julia Hermos. "It was one of the most joyous things I've done in a long time," Frank later told me.
Each move that Rowlson-Hall choreographed had a message behind it. After the performance, she explained the symbolism: circles made with her thumbs and index fingers, placed at her sides, resemble ovaries; parallel arms represent an equal sign; a raised fist telegraphs the Black Lives Matter Movement. "And then," Rowlston-Hall said, as she demonstrated the dance steps. "It's flash that suit, flash that suit,"she said, opening her blue pin-stripped blazer. The dance also paid tribute to Colin Kaepernick, Gabby Douglas, and the LGBTQ community.
Rowlson-Hall selected Union Square as ground zero for its centrality and prominence. "A lot of protests happen here," Rowlson-Hall points out; "It's an active and identifiable location."
Despite the impressive response and the hard work leading up to the event, last minute worries persisted. The pair did not have enough time to secure a permit, and so they were worried about getting shut down by the police. It was a challenge to find enough pantsuits for the stunt. "We tapped out all of the thrift stores and Goodwills in NYC," says Lidofsky. Stores like Aritzia and Topshop donated items. Volunteers purchased even more. And for Rowlson-Hall, the biggest fear was that the volunteers would not show up: "I didn't get much sleep," she confessed.
Kiki Valentine, who assisted Rowlson-Hall and Lidofsky with publicity, hopes this event will reach people across the country: "Seeing this come to life and brighten a grey October morning—to me it's a metaphor for the grey cloud Trump has placed over our country." She went on to say, "Hillary is definitely progressive, qualified, smart, and ready to lead us as our first female President."
Jacqueline Colette Prosper is a writer, Brooklynite, pop culture obsessive, and a mom. Follow her on Twitter.
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