Shimmy Mob Memphis – How Threads Tie Us Together All Around The World
Shimmy Mob. This year marks our 5th year.
What is Shimmy Mob?
Shimmy Mob is an event created 5 years ago by Sabeya, also known as Francesca Sabeya Anastasi, an international dance instructor, choreographer and performer based in Canada. In her words, “Shimmy Mob is a choreographed and planned “Flash Mob” type event, aimed to be the largest event of its kind by having a huge geographical territory covered in one day to raise funds for local shelters protecting women and children.”
We dance in cities all around the world on world belly dance day to the same music and choreography wearing Shimmy Mob t-shirts. Proceeds go to our local domestic abuse shelters.
This year marks our 5th year with 181 cities and 2,3870 dancers around the world. I am the founder of Shimmy Mob Memphis and I am proud of the work our local group has done to help the victims of domestic violence in our city as well as the work of my dance sisters all across our beautiful earth.
Let me tell you a little about domestic violence here where I live.
Domestic violence rates for Memphis and Tennessee are high. Rates of domestic violence are higher in Tennessee than in many other states. Georgia reports 602 incidents per 100,000 and Tennessee’s rate 1,323 per 100,000 is 120% greater. In Memphis the rate of domestic violence is higher than that of many other TN cities. 2,949 per 100,000 compared to 2,015 for Nashville. Compared to statewide trends Memphians involved in domestic violence then to be younger. Across TN victims as well as offenders tend to be between 24 and 44; in Memphis both are more likely to be between 18 and 34 years of age.
The Memphis YWCA shelter is a 27-bed shelter that provides the only 24 hr 7 day a week emergency shelter to abused women and their children. 901- 725-4277.
When I formed Shimmy Mob Memphis, the shelter was the only one in the area. Only the worst cases could get in and there was great need.
As founder of Shimmy Mob Memphis I worked with the director of the shelter. I have been to its location many times delivering donations. Few people know the location for safety reasons. The building has tight security; you must call ahead and be buzzed in. There is an enclosed porch, the only place to be in the fresh air while they are in hiding. The children play on that porch. Often the shelter was full. For the first few years our fundraising efforts went directly to support the shelter.
When I signed up to be team leader for Shimmy Mob Memphis that first year, I was motivated by the desire to help and to give. I had no idea how much the experience would give back to me. It was one of the greatest learning experiences of my life and one of my greatest challenges.
In 2011 I signed our city up and we had little time to get ready. No one had heard of Shimmy Mob. Within a short period of time I had 35 dancers signed up and two assistant team leaders, Brenda Canady and Cymbeline Rois. We had 25 days to learn the choreography and find a location. We had to learn the dance from a video. A dance that merged three styles, which meant new moves for many of the dancers. It wasn’t an easy choreography. I thought finding a location was the largest challenge. Our first venue fell through. There had been a destructive flash mob at the Wolfchase Mall and no one was willing take a chance on an unknown group despite our purpose. Then Center City Commission came through and allowed us to dance downtown on the trolley line.
I did not know when I signed up for this job that adapt and adjust would become my mantra. None could have predicted Memphis would battle flooding with the Mississippi River rising, or the many tornados, which ran through our city. That month was one challenge after another. Many of my dancers were having difficulties with flooding, trees from tornados falling on ones house and another’s car. We pressed on through. The big day came. So did the tornadoes.
On May 1st, we gathered on the Mid America Mall on the corner of Main Street and Peabody to perform the dance and heighten awareness of issues while raising funds.
Today if you go to ShimmyMob.com you will see our Memphis team was the honored city for persevering and pushing on through. You can also find video from our event Here on the acknowledgements page.
What you won’t see or hear are the multiple starts and stops, the tornado sirens and the many times we moved back beneath shelter to get out of the rain. It took several attempts to get all the way through a dance, which was less than five minutes. We didn’t give up. We were tenacious. We kept on until we got the job done.
As I drove away, my phone rang. It was the photographer from the Memphis Commercial Appeal, wanting to know if he’d missed us. He had because of the tornados and other extreme stories the news media was following. Not one reporter was there to take notice of what we’d done and report it to our fellow Memphians. They did not run a story. We were a small blip which didn’t even show on the news radar that day, as they passed us by for bigger stories.
There were over a dozen lightning rods dancing in downtown Memphis that day dancing in between tornados though few were there to see us and I am proud to call them my Shimmy Mob sisters.
Our efforts did not go unnoticed. Sabeya of international shimmy mob, acknowledged Shimmy Mob Memphis by awarding us honorable mention for enduring perseverance in the face of danger and potential harm. None of what we did was reported by local news and only a handful of people showed up to see us dance. Sabeya gave us special recognition but locally things remained silent. Still we raised $1,00.00 and this helped the shelter have the air conditioning fixed in the heat of summer. Imagine staying in a building where you can’t go outside and open windows because that wouldn’t be safe for you or your children. Often there has been great need for one thing or another and Shimmy Mob Memphis has helped with our donations.
What I learned from my experiences leading this event in 2011 goes beyond what I can put fully into words. I learned about being tenacious, how to adapt and adjust sometimes quickly and somewhat frequently. I learned how people will rise to a challenge if you ask the best of them, if you encourage them. I learned it is not our difficulties that define our experiences but how we respond to those difficulties. I learned how deep people can reach into their hearts and their wallets to help people who aren’t currently able to help themselves. These are lessons to carry for a lifetime.
When I think of all the woman and children that benefit and how this event unites us with our sisters all around the world, it makes my heart glad. We are in our fifth year now and I m proud of my Shimmy Mob Sisters and the work they do to continue this program. After last year I stepped down officially retiring from organizing to focus on my books, but I will return each year to dance with my sisters and support the cause in other smaller ways.
What has this to do with threads? Why did I start this article talking about threads that connect us? It is because each year when I dance, I feel those invisible threads and that connection. Knowing that my dance sisters who do not speak the same language as I do are dancing in their neighborhoods to the same music, the same choreographies and for the same reasons and cause connects us in a way I cannot put into words. Each year when I dance, I feel these threads and goose bumps spread. It is a feeling beyond words. We share these threads without words, through the music, through the dance, through the hearts united in a cause. Through our loving and our giving. These are the threads that connect us.
Often when there are issues and problems there are discussions of how to combat or to correct the problems. Sometimes a discussion of domestic abuse focuses on the woman (or man) being abused and why she should leave and why she doesn’t. Judgments place blame and find fault but do nothing toward solutions. To that discussion I have one response.
Babies with broken bones.
I do not wish to live in a world where babies have broken bones because we as a society have failed to protect them.
One in ten children in the U.S. are exposed to domestic violence and the majority are under 6 yrs old. Often the women feel they have nowhere to go, nowhere safe.
So what can we do about that? What can you do about that? You can help.
100% of the proceeds go directly to The Family Safety Center and are tax deductable.
Together we can make a difference.
If you have trouble with the link and finding how to donate, go to YouCaring.com then in the box in the top right type in shimmy mob Memphis.
My infinite love and gratitude to all those who have donated time and money, heart and soul to supporting this cause.
Here is one of the videos from this year and you can find many others from the past five years on my Youtube page. Enjoy!