This is the first Reclaim the Night March I have been on. I get a cup of tea from the free hot drinks cart, and swallow it quickly. It heats my mouth brief as a firework in the cold dark night. Then the heat subsides and it is freezing again. The crowd is huge, and we decide to be penguins and keep to the middle where it will be warmer!
We go to a hall where we are gathering before beginning. There are girls smearing their faces with neon face paint, dotting it in arches over their eyes, cascading over their cheeks in swirls. I attempt to draw a flower in pink and white on my cheek. Anna is wearing a huge fur coat which I periodically put my face in to try and warm my nose. It smells reassuringly fake; Anna says when it rains, real fur smells bad, like a drowned animal.
There’s a sign saying Woman Hold Up Half the Sky, and the sign itself is outlined by the stars and the road. Everytime a bus passes everyone cheers and waves at it, as if the buses are part of the march. On curry mile there are men holding their phones, filming as we jostle and sway by; they hold their phones very steady, very still, like an extra eye that they must take great care of.
A woman holds a mannequin covered with NO, written in red. She carries it from Owen’s Park to the Manchester Student’s Union, I see it bobbing in the crowd, a spare body, an extra in this momentary show reel unspooling down the length of Rusholme. Chants echo down the body of the march, boomeranging from group to group. What do we want? Safe streets. When do we want them? NOW!
More photos here.
- Reclaim the Night (feministactioncambridge.wordpress.com)