Emma Goldman was the ideal 20th-century woman -- socially conscious, proudly individualistic, rebellious, skeptical, and possessed of a sense of humor. She also was a feminist, writer, lecturer, revolutionary, anarchist, and birth-control advocate, not necessarily in that order. Nurtured in the radical student movements of Russia and the sweatshops of America, "Red Emma" (1869-1940) spent her life championing social justice and personal freedom and battling their oppressors, from Chicago police to Russian Bolsheviks to Spanish fascists. Occasionally, though, Goldman relaxed enough to enjoy a good party. She's often quoted as having said, "If I can't dance to it, it's not my revolution."
That's why a pair of activist organizations, the East Bay Coalition Against the War and the People's Nonviolent Response Coalition, decided to honor Goldman's birthday -- albeit belatedly; it was June 27 -- with an all-age, alcohol-free, live-music and DJ party called "You Can Dance, and It Is Your Revolution!" Friday night at Oakland's Fellowship of Humanity Hall (390 27th St., 8 p.m., $5-$10 sliding scale).
"One of our group members came up with the idea," explains Emanuel Hemsi of East Bay Coalition Against the War. "It's a way of having our energy and not taking ourselves too seriously." Indeed, the typical public image of activist protesters is of a loud, surly mob obstructing traffic -- not a group of twentysomethings dancing to hip-hop music. Hemsi's East Bay Coalition, which like the People's Nonviolent Response Coalition is an outgrowth of 9/11, has the avowed purpose of stopping the retaliatory "war on terrorism," defending civil liberties, and putting a halt to the scapegoating of immigrants. But there's also some local outreach. "We've been having video screenings on Martin Luther King Jr. and US companies in Latin America," says Hemsi. "We're trying to connect our cause to other causes around the world."
The Goldman birthday party will be hosted by MC Kenny Mostern, an Oakland poetry slam stalwart, with eats provided by Food Not Bombs, and even dance lessons for hard-working politicos. "Because activists need to have fun, too!" organizers say. Emma Goldman herself could only agree.
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