SHOPPERS were brought to a standstill as a ‘flash mob’ of dancers turned Houndshill Shopping Centre into Blackpool’s latest dance mecca.
Onlookers said they were amazed as around 50 people who they thought were other shoppers danced through the busy shopping centre yesterday.
But the dancers were there to do more than just entertain. They were marking World Mental Health Day, hoping to get people talking about mental health and the stigma attached to it.
The group had been put together by dance troupes and the Richmond Fellowship, which runs Cornerstone – a day service for people suffering with mental health problems on Church Street, central Blackpool, to raise awareness of the health difficulties many people live with.
Darren Bee, development worker for minority communities at the Richmond Fellowship, said the flash mob also gave people who have mental health problems and difficulties a chance to take part in a community project.
He said: “The flash mob was fabulous, people said it was really good.
“We’re showing that it is Time To Change, to end discrimination around mental health and get the word out that people can talk about it and get help if they need it.
“We want to get people talking about mental health and the five ways to well being - connecting, being active, taking notice, learning and giving.”
Dance instructors Madhvi Chabba-Moudgil, from Nritya Sangam, and Michelle Ramsey, from Urban Dance Project, led members of community groups in the four-minute routine.
Members from the Blackpool Chinese Community Association joined people who use the Richmond Fellowship and mental health charity Mind services.
More than 100 shoppers stopped to watch the group dance to Basement Jaxx, Do Your Thing, before they began bhanghra dancing to Indian music.
Michelle Ramsey, founder of Urban Dance Project, said: “I want to start a project now with people from Mind. When they first came to rehearsals they were quite nervous, thinking they couldn’t dance and couldn’t do it, but we’ve seen them develop and grow. They did great today.”
Madhvi Chabba-Moudgil, from Nritya Sangam, said: “It went really well.”
Claire Dobson, 36, from St Annes, stopped to watch the dancers as she shopped.
She said: “The flash mob were excellent, it was a good atmosphere around everyone watching. Hopefully it got people talking.”