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Rosie, a member of the RtNL steering committee, reports back on the event.

Liv Bailey speaking into megaphone in front of RtNL banner

On November 28th 2009, 300 women, children and supporters reclaimed the night in Leeds. The weather held, and from 6pm the crowds gathered outside Leeds City Art Gallery, sharing opinions, stories, stickers and placards. The march began with a speech from the Leeds Reclaim the Night steering group co-ordinator, who welcomed Liv Bailey, NUS National Women’s Officer, who gave a rousing speech and encouraged us all in a sing-a-long and feminist chant practice session. Then, headed up with our Leeds banner, the march began.

the crowd gathers outside Leeds City Art Gallery

The route took us past many of the Leeds lap dancing clubs, where chants of “women’s bodies not for sale” rang out. The vast majority of people who passed shouted their encouragement, those who looked baffled were given flyers and those angry with us were drowned out with chants and singing (as well as provided with flyers).

We had two steering group members on megaphones leading chants and songs and steering group members and stewards keeping the march together as we made our way around town and across roads, chanting and singing and celebrating to our final rally destination of The Civic Hall. We were welcomed with hot drinks, partner organisations shared information and our interactive consultation map was on display.

Women hold up banners reading End Violence Against Women and I Am Not An Object

We had a great line-up of speakers: Al Garthwaite talked about the history of the event (read more here), Alison Lowe encouraged us to get involved politically, Jess inspired us with her insight and experience, Jalna Hanmer informed us with her wealth of knowledge, Sandra McNeill roused us with her call to arms and Leanne Sutheran reminded us why we were all there and what a great success our night had been.

We were then invited to our after-event club night ‘Reclaim the Dance Floor’ at the Common Place, with music, poetry, dancing and conversation.

Banner reading: whatever we wear wherever we go, yes means yes and no means no

We’ve been so pleased that we have received such positive feedback and press coverage, and we welcome anyone who has ideas and opinions of how we can improve the event to get in touch. If you would like to get involved, either as a steward next year, as a member of the steering group, or just to stay informed of the 2010 event to attend, please e-mail us at reclaimthenightleeds[at]googlemail.com or join our facebook group (search for: Reclaim the Night Leeds).

The first meeting for the planning of the 2010 event will be in February, so please do get in touch and help us make next year’s bigger and better. For more information about Reclaim the Night Leeds please see www.reclaimthenightleeds.org.uk.

Photos by our official RtN-L photographer Anne-Marie Atkinson.