CHEK Upside: Groovin’ grannies celebrate first gathering in over a year with heart-felt flash mob at Victoria’s Willows beach

CHEK Upside: Groovin' grannies celebrate first gathering in over a year with heart-felt flash mob at Victoria's Willows beach

It was a calm and picturesque day at Victoria’s Willow’s Beach until a group of grannies got their groove on.

“I always loved dancing,” said dancing grandmother Laurie Wilson.

“It was so much fun,” added dancing leader/choreographer Lisbie Rae.

After weeks of rehearsing via Zoom, the flash mob beach party marked the first time the dozens of close friends gathered in well over a year.

“It’s a dance that originated in South Africa, a South African named Master KG wrote the music,” said Wilson.

The song is called Jerusalema and is best known worldwide for becoming a viral dance challenge.

“We thought, this is for us!” said Rae.

It was an appropriate song and dance for a group of grannies that call themselves the Victoria Grandmothers For Africa (VG4A). Over the past 15 years through their annual cycling fundraiser, they’ve raised nearly $1.5 million in support of the many African grandmothers caring for orphans who lost one or both of their parents to the AIDS virus.

Lisbie Rae has visited Africa and says today’s dance was a tribute to their friends across the globe.

“I met grandmothers and one of the first things they want to do after sharing stories of loss — their children have died they’re bringing up their grandchildren — the first thing they want to do is get together with other grandmothers and when they are together, they dance and they sing,” said Rae.

“We work hard at feeling solidarity with the African Grandmothers,” added Wilson, who joined VG4A in 2016.

Despite the pandemic, last summer nearly seventy women aged 61 to 85 took part in a virtual cycling fundraiser, together conquering 270,000 kilometres while raising nearly $150,000 towards the cause.

“So I just turned 65 this year, but a lot of the strongest cyclists in our group and the best dancers are well into their seventies,” said Wilson. “There was a couple of eighty somethings in that group [of dancers] you just watched actually, so it’s really inspiring.”

Inspiring for the beach-goers taking in the free show and following along as well, as this group of giving, grooving grannies celebrate the joy of being together while showing support for a cause dear to their hearts.

“It just feels like a cloud is lifting and we’d like to help make that happen for Africa too,” said Rae.

The 2021 VG4A cycling fundraiser is slated for August. Any woman living in greater Victoria over 55-years-old is welcome to join. For more information, click here.

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Kevin CharachKevin Charach

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