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Preparing For Tilda Swinton Instructed, Organized Dance-Related Embarrassment

Preparing For Tilda Swinton Instructed, Organized Dance-Related Embarrassment

So I’m heading off to Edinburgh in a week’s time for my second annual (and their 64th annual) Edinburgh International Film Festival. And it turns out some friends from another Scottish past will be joining me. Tilda Swinton, Mark Cousins and seemingly everyone that joined them on last year’s “A Pilgrimage” will be holding a flash mob dance in Edinburgh’s Festival Square to the tune of Avalon Boy’s “soft shoe ditty” “At the Ball.”a flash mob dance in Edinburgh’s Festival Square to the tune of Avalon Boy’s “soft shoe ditty” “At the Ball.” And they want us all to join in:

On Saturday 26th June 2010, at around 10.45am, come rain or shine, having had our porridge, we’re gonna meet at Festival Square, Lothian Road, Edinburgh. We’ll chat, read papers, suck a lolly, whatever. Then at exactly 11am, music will start – The Avalon Boys’ soft shoe ditty “At the Ball”. It’s a song from Laurel and Hardy’s funniest film Way Out West. In the film, Stan and Ollie do a wee dance, which is rubbish compared to Cyd Charisse or Gene Kelly, or any trained dancer, and yet it’s one of the most charming, amusing, gentle, child-like musical numbers in the whole of cinema history.

And so, in tribute to Stan and Ollie, and to the wee boys inside them, and to their movies, and to dancing in public, in Edinburgh, in the rain (possibly), and in pure unabashed celebration of doing something as a group and looking like dafties… in tribute to all of this, when the music starts at 11am, we will put down our newspapers and our adult selves, and do the Laurel and Hardy dance from the film…

And we need you to join us. Especially if you are
• 8 1/2 years old
• or 85
• or an accountant
• or passing by
• or on the number 16 bus – STOP THE BUS!
• or Alex Salmond
• or an Edinburgh International Film Festival movie-goer
• or in high heels
• or grumpy
• or bevvied
• or a bit bewildered by the fact that the bell clock has moved from one side of Lothian Road to the other
• or if you’ve just bought a talking point lamp from Ali’s Cave
• or you don’t usually dance in public.

If you don’t join us we will look like total fools – not the first time.

Yes, we will all bump into each other, and yes it’ll look nothing like those flash mobs you see on youtube. But it should be very amusing.


YOU HAVE TO LEARN THE DANCE. You have two weeks. Maybe invite pals round and learn it together? We’re spending our waking moments learning the footwork and twirls and dinky bits, but we are so busy laughing that it’s taking a while.

You’ll find the dance at the fab website Go to Downloads and you can watch the dance – on your computer or even on your mobile

Obviously when Tilda Swinton tells you to dance, you dance. But my issue is that, well, I can’t dance (though according to their instructions, this is a reason why I should participate). And I especially can’t dance when said dance is a) in public b) in broad daylight and c) amidst potential sobriety. So I guess I should really take the practicing suggestion seriously. Here’s a clip of the routine I’ll be slowly growing accustomed to in my apartment over the next week (set to “Tainted Love” for whatever reason – its the only embeddable clip I could find):

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