Mid-day dance party at River Market

When Melissa Balfour gets stressed at work, she gets up from her desk and dances.

Fortunately, Balfour mostly works alone at home, so co-workers aren't subjected to her flailing arms and legs akimbo.

But on Tuesday, Aug. 28, Balfour wants to turn her one-person dance party into a mosh. She's organized New Westminster's first Lunch Beat, to be held at River Market from 12-1 p.m. In fact, it's the first time such an event has been held in Western Canada.

Lunch Beat started in a garage in Stockholm, Sweden in June, 2010 when a young entrepreneur gathered 14 of her friends and colleagues and a DJ to blow off a bit of mid-day steam. By that fall, Lunch Beat was a movement, with noon-hour gambols organized all over the city. A few months later they had spread beyond Stockholm's city limits to France, Germany, Finland, Serbia, Portugal and eventually to North American cities like New York, San Francisco and Toronto. There are currently more than 25 international branches and some parties attract upwards of 600 celebrants.

Part of Lunch Beat's appeal is its simplicity, says Balfour, who read about the events in a magazine article. There's no schedule, no instructor, no need to register, no inihibitions. But there is a manifesto, the first rule of which is "if it's your first time at Lunch Beat, you have to dance." Other rules include no talking about work at Lunch Beat, and "everyone present is your dance partner."

With music and atmosphere provided by local DJ Emiko, "It's like a little rave in the middle of the day," says Balfour. "Instead of sitting at your desk eating lunch for an hour, you can go have some fun. Lunch Beat doesn't discriminate. It's for everyone."

To help ease people into the idea and to protect everyone's dignity from gawkers, Balfour says she'll throw her Lunch Beat in the upper conference room at River Market. She hopes to make them monthly happenings.


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