OAKLAND -- This year, Feb. 14 means much more than the day on which flowers and candy are exchanged for Valentine's Day.
Instead, V-Day marks the first international celebration for One Billion Rising where, all on the same day, people across the globe will stand up to address the issue of violence experienced by one billion women and girls and the staggering statistic that one in three women will experience violence in her lifetime.
There will be thousands of V-Day happenings, and Oakland will mark the day with a "Night for the One Billion: An "Only in Oakland" Performance Ritual & Celebration 'Mash-up.'" Hosted by Bay Area Rising, the evening promises politics, spirituality and performance in the form of dance, spoken word, drumming, chanting and singing, all rising in defiance of the injustices women and girls suffer worldwide.
One Billion Rising is the largest day of action in the history of V-Day, the global activist movement founded by Eve Ensler to serve as a catalyst to promote creative events that increase awareness and raise money.
"Eve Ensler founded V-Day to bring attention to violence against women and to make a change," said Diane Dodge, volunteer coordinator for Bay Area Rising.
In Oakland and across the globe, Feb. 14 will not be a day of anger and protest, but one of dance. As the One Billion Rising slogan states -- strike, dance, rise.
"The idea is when you dance you are full," Dodge said. "You're shaking off the shame and anger, saying it happened, it stopped and I'm taking up my space in the world."
The evening will feature local performers across the age-range from youth to grandmothers, including Destiny Arts, Jennifer Berezan, Dance Brigade, Youth Speaks, Gina Breedlove & Shelly Doty, Holly Near, Fat Chance Belly Dance, Hand to Hand, Chhoti Maa, Luisah Teish, Eve Decker of Rebecca Riots, Afia Walking Tree, Mona de Vestel and the Conscious Grandmothers.
An important feature of the event will be audience participation.
"We call the event a performance ritual because the audience will be marking and changing energy," Dodge said. "There will be chanting, a spiritual gathering and an honoring of men and young boys. Basically, it's going to be very beautiful, a good community feeling."
Organizers are concerned that a last-minute venue change will cause confusion but they want everyone to know that the new location, Oakland's First Presbyterian Church, is a wonderful setting with great acoustics.
One hundred percent of proceeds will be donated, 25 percent to local Bay Area groups that work with women and girls, and 75 percent to IDEX, International Development Exchange Program, who supports women's organizations in Africa, India and Central America.
Though organizers worldwide hope to attract one billion participants, the idea is that everything will not stop once the evening is over.
"We hope people will leave with a sense of wholeness for themselves and a connection to women all over the world," Dodge said. "We want to give people the strength to say stand up and rise up everyday for women."
What: Night for the One Billion: An "Only in Oakland" Performance Ritual & Celebration "Mash-up"
When: 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday
Where: First Presbyterian Church, 2619 Broadway at 27th Street, Oakland
Tickets: $10 to $50 adults, youth under 17 with an adult free. Tickets should be purchased before the event through Brown Paper Tickets: www.brownpapertickets.com/events/312857.
Information: For more information: www.bayarearising.org or contact Diane Dodge at 510-435-4558, DianeDodgesf@gmail.com.