Dancing in the Park

"If we can find some fire dancers, I bet people would come, it'd be a great night!"

When hosting The World's Biggest Eye Contact Experiment - Auckland Event over 200 people showed up at the square downtown to take part. Thrilled by the experience, the public asked for there to be more social gatherings of this nature.


So a Facebook community was created called The Social Movement Project and Aston began coming up with fun reasons for the community to gather, connect and feel good.

One of the first ideas was an event called "Dance Like Nobody Is Watching," inspired by the then popular, No Lights No Lycra, which was known around Auckland as "Dancing in the Dark." The community was asked to flash mob Queen Street at 5pm on a Friday so that as everyone finishes their work week, they walk out of the buildings to see people randomly dancing about the sidewalks like nobody is watching... just 'cos we can!

World's Biggest Eye Contact Experiment Auckland event

While coordinating a new date with the group, Aston said, "If we can find some fire dancers, I bet more people would come. It'll be a great night!"

Not knowing where to start to find fire dancers she went straight to google and searched "auckland fire dancers." The top hit was the Dragon Poi Facebook Page, where she contacted Rory McNee and explained her vision. On the one part it was a small gathering, but she was also seeing a much bigger event. He loved the idea and immediately came on board, planning his return to Auckland the day before the event. The date change was confirmed for 6 days later, a new name came up with on the spot given how close it sounded to the then popular, Dancing in the Dark. The Facebook page was updated and off they went, Aston dealing with production, Rory sorting the fire and Alan providing the equipment.

The instructions were to arrive with a phone, iPod or mp3 player (and headphones) with your own music or a shared playlist and some glasses on with a statement written/stuck on that you want to infuse in the world (e.g. "LOVE"). Turn up to an allocated spot at 4:45pm and based on the numbers that show up, we'll place ourselves down Queen Street and start dancing like nobody is watching from 5-7pm.

Come December, a group of approximately 20 people expressed interest in this flashmob event and they got communicating on logistics. In the co-creative manner, the concept evolved as the group made suggestions and requests and in the end we opted to gather somewhere with grass so we could dance together barefooted in the city one hopefully sunny summers evening. But that day came and it was grey and drizzly, and numbers were only around 30 so the decision was collectively made to postpone until the following week.


Within 2 days 144 people had indicated they were coming and approximately 500 were interested. Aston had no idea how word was getting around (must have been Rory), but it was! 2 more days later there was over 400 people indicating they were coming and over 2000 people interested! Aston's friend said to her "don't you think you need a sound system for all those people? That little speaker aint going to cut it." The irony was... they had a system right there. This was just the little ancillary speaker of a much bigger system, so Aston contacted Alan who owned the gear and asked if we could run the full set up, and sure enough he said YES! And it could be said... that's when Dancing in the Park was born.


Event day came. It was all pulled off with great success. We counted just over 500 people across the 5 hour, Thursday night event on the 17th December 2015. Having a PA system and a microphone, Aston spoke to the community from the Domain Rotunda and asked what they thought about the event and what they wanted next, to which a man from the back of the crowd yelled "Keep this going!" and everyone agreed. So the team committed to embarking on the journey and lifestyle that is running Dancing in the Park for Auckland City. And that they did, for 22 months later, having done 17 events, we are launching for a new season as a weekend long, monthly event.



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