Jazz hands: Nice

Evenings on Occupied Dame Street are a strange affair, the calm of the afternoon gives way to the frantic energy of the second General Assembly of the day, currently held at 6pm, and the influx of interested people on their way home from work, college, school and the like.

The General Assemblies are an open and collaborative affair, a way for everyone to have their voices heard, news and announcements to be shared and for the #OccupyDameStreet movement to take its collective decisions. Anyone can participate in these meetings, even if they have just arrived at the site, and a system of hand gestures is used to show agreement, disagreement or to raise points of order and information, the idea being that if you just agree with something, you can show your agreement by waving your hands in the air, there's no need for everyone to speak just to say, 'I agree with her.’ If this idea had been introduced to the last office I worked in, our department meetings would have been over in five minutes and we'd all have had more time for the important things like coffee and sleeping. As agreement is reached through consensus, an awful lot of hand-waving takes place and the effect has come to be lovingly referred to as "Jazz Hands".



 jazz hands 1

Jazz Hands at the afternoon General Assembly
#OccupyDameStreet, Dublin, Monday 10th October

occupy dame street evening general assembly 

Jazz Hands at the evening General Assembly
#OccupyDameStreet, Dublin, Monday 10th October

After the General Assembly a number of Working Group meetings take place to help set the work rota for the evening and the following day. Different folks with particular skill sets (or just a willing pair of hands) have volunteered to help coordinate specific aspects of #OccupyDameStreet and the Camp itself, and Working Groups have been formed to help manage things like Construction (the group in which I have found myself, which would come as a laugh and a worrying concern to anyone who knows me in the Really Real World), Logistics, Media, Security, Health and Safety and the all important Food Group, charged with keeping the bellies full of those living and working in the Camp. The donations of food from members of the public and local restaurants are astonishing, never underestimate the generosity of your fellow citizens, or the importance of gaffer tape and a set of cable ties, not necessarily at the same time.

occupy dame street food group 

The amazing Food Group work their magic
#OccupyDameStreet, Dublin, Monday 10th October

The Working Groups are essential because the membership of the Camp is quite fluid, beyond the core group of up to twenty Overnighters the camp sees well over a hundred other participants over the course of the day, and even the composition of the Overnighters has changed as some folks could only be there on the weekend, and others have taken their place, drawn down to Dame Street like revolutionary moths to a leaderless flame. The Working Groups ensure that there is always someone about with a solid idea of what needs to be done, and where. Where Working Groups interact with the general public outside of Occupied Dame Street (like the Media Group), they bring their ideas back to a General Assembly for approval or alteration, where they deal solely with life inside the camp (like Construction), they usually work autonomously with the consensus of the smaller group of Overnighters and long-term Day-Trippers. Anybody can volunteer to be on a Working Group, whether an Overnighter or a Day-Tripper, and as I can attest sometimes you find yourself in a group because you are foolish enough to hold up a tarp, pass somebody a rope and the next thing you know you are rostered down for an 8am windbreak-making session.

If only Jazz Hands made building go faster.

 revolution pizza

Vegan pizza delivered straight from Hell by the magic pizza elves
#OccupyDameStreet, Dublin, Monday 10th October

The interaction with, and the support of, the general public makes all of this go faster, whether it is the near constant beeping of horns from cars driving by, to folks dropping in to bring supplies or just say "Well done!" A taxi-driver brought in chairs, tables and a blackboard this morning at 10:30, a builders' supplier came in to see what more construction material was needed, printers have offered flyers for free and the amount of blankets, pillows and food donated in response to tweets was staggering, the camp was awash with fresh coffees and teas this morning, pizzas in the evening and a crate of apples at close to midnight. While there are hecklers and troublemakers who drop down drunkenly at 3am just to get a rise out of the hippies and the lefties, all the stress this causes is washed away the moment a passing mum sends her child over to drop off some jammy-dodgers. People are just amazing.

Actually, I think that is the main lesson to be learned from three days of #OccupyDameStreet – people are just amazing. I went down on Saturday to see what it was all about and have ended up spending around twelve hours of every day there since, and doing something that I rarely do, participating. Yes, I'm still taking photos and posting things to Twitter, but it’s squeezed in between tying down tents, taking out the trash, running off to buy batteries for the megaphone and an awful, awful lot of Jazz Hands.

I'm almost too busy to be grumpy.


jazz hands redux

More Jazz Hands
#OccupyDameStreet Tuesday 11 October

canine joins in


Originally published on David's site, boomingback.org.


Images top and bottom: Aoife Giles.

All other images: David Johnson.