Fashion Revolution

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Flash mobs, a fashion tardis and upcycling workshops celebrated Glasgow’s Fashion Revolution Day.

Campaigners met at the Glasgow Lighthouse (on April 24) to promote sustainable fashion and commemorate the Rana Plaza disaster. The 2013 disaster saw Bangladesh’s Rana Plaza factory collapse, killing over 1100 and injuring thousands.

This is one of many incidents that continue to haunt fashion supply chains.

In 2013, International Labour Organization (ILO) estimated accidents and diseases at work caused two million fatalities every year. ILO also forecast around 40% of the world’s workers earn under £1.30 a day, and over 50% lacked secure employment.

Oxfam’s website explained: “Workers producing for companies like Nike, Adidas, and Puma often endure low wages and long hours, in dangerous and hostile conditions.

“The sad fact is many workers in the garment industry are living in poverty, even though they have paid jobs.”

In 2009, the Ethical Trading Initiative reported that 48% of its corporate members’ weren’t paying workers in full. That year the Fair Labor Association showed 58% of its audited suppliers were underpaying wages.

Fashion Revolution campaigner, Niki Taylor explained underpaid labour is often used to make cheap garments.

She added: “We hope people will start to ask why their garments are so cheap and think more about what they are buying.

“We wanted to encourage people to ask ‘who made my clothes?’”

This question was carried on placards and pins that campaigners distributed on Buchanan Street (Glasgow). The ‘flash mob’ asked shoppers about their buying habits and invited them to the Lighthouse workshop.

Taylor said: “Fashion Revolution was at the Lighthouse to commemorate the Rana Plaza disaster and promote ethical fashion.

“We had a ‘fashion tardis’ changing room, where people could turn their clothes inside out, then get their photo taken, showing their labels and asking social media #whomademyclothes?”

The campaign encouraged fashion brands to share their factories’ locations and photos. It was supported by events held across 71 countries.

Joining the Glasgow campaign was fashion designer Iona Barker.

She said: “I ran the upcycling workshop as part of Fashion Revolution Day. The workshop was quite busy and there were a lot of tourist stopping by, wanting to know what it was all about.

“Some of the tourists hadn’t heard of the Rana Plaza disaster, so it was good way to raise awareness.”

The workshop also promoted sustainable fashion by encouraging people to create new clothes from old. Practicing this ethos was participant Novada Hale.

She said: “I came along to fashion Revolution Day to help my friend Jen campaign, but I ended up taking part in the upcycling workshop. I worked with Iona to transform an old t-shirt into a dress.”

Barker added: “I would encourage people to think twice before they throw things out. A piece of worn clothing can be changed into something cool and new.

“If people want to upcycle clothes, but aren’t very good with a sewing machine, they can always use fabric glue and paint!

“Upcycling newbies can also get help in haberdashery shops. Glasgow has a lot of great material shops and the staff are all very friendly.”

Barker explained that clothes can be recycled via charity shops or ‘swap parties’ (where guests exchange unwanted garments). She encouraged shoppers to look for ‘swapping’ events in their area.

Concluding, Taylor added that Future Fashion Revolution Events, such as documentary screenings, will be advertised on the group’s website.

Ballroom Blitz

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Ballroom has hit a renaissance, with programmes like Strictly Come Dancing dispelling its myth of antiquity. Instead its speedy steps; dapper dress and modern music have been exposed.

Glasgow Ballroom Dancing Society instructor Julia White said: “Ballroom is not just a stuffy old waltz that travels around the room. It can be a fiery Latin Samba, graceful Foxtrot or a whirling- twirling Viennese Waltz. There is something in it for everyone and can be lots of fun; even addictive.”

Having moved from America to Annisland, White (who is now 24) sought to continue Ballroom and this brought her to the Glasgow club.

She said: “Unfortunately at the time the club didn`t have a competing group, so I began to help plan trips to competitions. The group is currently in its 3rd year but the competitive aspect only began this year, and the response has been even greater than expected.

“With expansion of the club we have found more experienced students to help teach some of the introductory classes, and just this year we found a professional to help teach the more experienced dancers.”

Leading the group is Society President Marit Behner, she and White join the rest of the executive board booking rooms, organising events and keeping members happy.

21- year- old Behner, joined the group in 2013, but first started dancing at age thirteen in Germany (where Ballroom is a rite of passage). Having lost practice for a while, Behner returned to the art in college, before joining the Glasgow Society in 2013.

Despite her early start, Behner explains that the art is open to everyone, with no previous experience needed.

She said: “We aim to make beginners classes so everyone can join and learn dancing from scratch. Once you know the basics you can move up to intermediate class.”

White agrees: “Our beginner’s class is perfect for anyone that has never danced before, and for those who have danced but want to learn the basic Ballroom footwork. As dancers progress they can move up to the intermediate class which adds addition footwork and moves.

“We don’t force anyone to move up; they can come to as many of the classes as they want, although the more they do come the faster they will learn.”

Classes run Monday and Wednesday in Glasgow University’s Union and Chapel buildings. Updates on class locations can be found on the Society’s facebook page.

Monday hosts an open floor from 2 to 3pm, where dancers can practice and socialize, then it’s Beginners from 3 to 4pm and Intermediates from 4 to 5pm. Wednesday from 3 to 4pm is a mixed Intermediate and Beginners class; then from 4 to 5pm is Competitors. Class slots also vary from term to term.

Beginners and Intermediate classes are £5 is per lesson, with the fourth free. Competitors’ classes are a further £5.

Beginners need only bring themselves, no fancy footwear or partner is required.

Behner said: “Our intermediate and beginner classes are open without a partner; we rotate partners throughout the class, to keep it mixed and sociable.

“For our competitive class however, we ask people to come with a set partner, though we help pairing people up at the beginning of term.”

She added: “We have a good mix of ladies and gents or leaders and followers. At some points we have more leaders, at others more followers, but it is no problem pairing people with the same gender. In fact, it’s taught me a lot more than just being a follower.

“In terms of age we have mostly students attending, but are open to all ages as long as people enjoy dancing.”

A standard class teaches two different dance styles, usually one Latin (such as Rumba, Chacha or Samba) and one Standard Ballroom (such as Tango, Waltz, and Quickstep).

White concluded: “There are wonderful benefits to dancing, whether it`s gaining confidence, improving posture, getting in better shape or even just making new friends. It`s fun and the people are friendly. There`s nothing to lose from trying.”

For more information visit the Glasgow Ballroom Dancing Society facebook page.

 

Cordao De Ouro

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Capoeira is a martial art with a difference; it uses combat, music and dance to express Afro Brazilian history.

Capoeira Instructor Fiaz Jaca Cdo explained: “Capoeira originated in Brazil among African slaves. The slaves were banned from practicing martial arts, so they disguised it as dance. Today Capoeira incorporates this influence in its beats and languages.”

Dance is now vital in Capoeira culture. While some classes focus on ‘play’ similar to sparring Instructor Jaca’s Cordao De Ouro class also uses musical movement play to improve stretch and coordination. It was this aspect that first brought him to practice.

He said: “My ex-wife is a dancer and she was trying to loosen me up, both physically and mentally, so she brought me to a Capoeira class. At the time I could barely touch my toes and wasn’t sure if it was for me, but the music kept me going back.

“Capoeira has elements that appeal to everyone. It’s not about using force; it’s about leverage and technique. At the higher level we use the pads and bags to practice kicks and strikes.”

Each Cordao De Ouro class has a different focus, with sessions running at various times and locations across Edinburgh and in Glasgow’s Wellington Church. In Glasgow: on Monday from 6 to 7pm is a beginners group; then from 7 to 8:30pm is an intermediate. Wednesday from 6 to 8pm is a mixed levels practice, with Capoeira music. Friday from 6:30 to 8pm is a mixed levels practice, with acrobatic training.

Kids classes are also held in Wellington Church; on Wednesday from 4 to 5pm is a group for 5 to 10 year olds; then Friday hosts three classes: one from 3:30 to 4pm for 5-8 year olds, another from 4:15 to 5pm for 8-11year olds and finally one from 5 to 6pm for those 11 and above.

Adult Classes are £6.50 booked individually or cheaper when part of a block. Beginners get their first class free and can participate in gym clothes.

Instructor Jaca explained: “In class we will start by introducing the new members; then we warm up, practice dynamic stretching and the ginga [basic play] stance. Once warmed up we will move on to partner work, kicks, counter work and basic acrobatics, like cartwheels. This will then evolve into sequences and be practiced with different partners.”

Partner practice is showcased at the end of each class, inside the Roda or circle. Students will stand in a ring and watch two of their peers ‘play’ in the middle. Instructor Jaca explained that the Roda symbolises the world.

“This is what Capoeira is: the Roda, the play in the circle, the music, singing and history. When the music is right it builds timing and improves response. Capoeira is not just about learning the moves; it’s about how you develop as a person.”

As students develop they progress through a belt grading system that uses colours of the Brazilian flag.

Instructor Jaca said: “As the instructor I will monitor the students to assess their level; but no matter the level, every student must show commitment; this brings a sense of community to the group.”

Capoeira’s traditions have now been recognised by the United Nations, which in November 2014 awarded it cultural heritage status.

Instructor Jaca concluded: “Historically Capoeira was about the African and indigenous Brazilian fight for liberty. So Capoeira is about freedom. People rush to Capoeira class to unwind from the stress of the day. If you are looking for mental, physical and spiritual peace Capoeira is the thing for you.”

To find out more or book a class, visit Cordao De Ouro Capoeira website.