For several years growing up, summers were spent on the eastern edge of the United States traveling in a burgundy Ford Granada with grandparents and a 92-pound great aunt Elaine who had a smoking habit. She would forbid anyone to crack a window while she puffed on her Parliaments for fear the wind would "muss her hair," which she had "done" every week at what they used to call a beauty shop.
Years after she retired, she would pause for lunch: a cigarette and a cup of cold Folgers coffee that she had brewed hours earlier. Back then people seemed to guard their lunch time hour.
Now we are more likely to remain hunched over a computer.
In Sweden, workaholism gave rise to Lunch Beat, a lunchtime dance gathering that has now spread to the East Bay: The first one will happen at noon July 12 at In the Groove Studios in Oakland.
The Lunch Beat manifesto is governed by 10 rules:
Rule 1: If it's your first lunch at Lunch Beat, you have to dance.
Rule 2: If it's your second, third or fourth time at Lunch Beat, you have to dance.
Other rules include no drugs, no alcohol, no freeloading, and no talking about your job.
The set lasts 60 minutes, includes water, a DJ and a take-away lunch.
The rules posted on the website (http://www.lunchbeat.org) culminate in, "Lunch Beat can be set up anywhere by anyone as long as they are announced as public events, are nonprofit
"It was open source, " the organizer of the Oakland event, Venus French, said. "How cool is that?"
Lunch Beat began in 2010 in an underground Stockholm garage. The inaugural group of 14 grew to hundreds and Lunch Beat spread across several European countries, to India then across the Atlantic to New York and Petaluma.
Italians at the Piazzetta della Lega in Alessandria will be launching Lunch Beat on the same day as Oakland. And Microsoft workers in Seattle and dancers in Oakland will be joined during their Lunch Beat on July 12 via web stream.
"I'm on a personal mission to create personal relationships," French said.
"It's not just a bunch of people in a room."
She said she wants to turn virtual connections into real ones and get people away from their desks for an hour.
"If I don't have a really good reason to leave my computer, I don't," she said.
But if something like Lunch Beat were regular, she said, "I would be there with a quickness."
French is a Colorado transplant, a visual artist and a "dancer by love." She attends the Ecstatic Dance at Sweet's Ballroom in Oakland.
But the idea to import Lunch Beat to Oakland arose from a segment on PRI's "The World" radio news magazine about Turkey's trial event. French hopes to expand to Berkeley and San Francisco and make Lunch Beat a regular event.
Lunch Beat, French said, reflects the organizers and the beats per minute of the music.
Anything faster than 120 beats a minute, she added, "doesn't leave much room for connection."
In Sweden, the gatherings tend to look like a rave. In one video shot at the Hyper Island bar in Stockholm, about a dozen people are on the dance floor. One of them is wearing a giant panda head. Another video shows a pretty blonde Swede in dreadlocks dancing next to a man who showed up in a three-piece suit.
"The first thing I see is that they are happy when they come back," the Swedish Deputy Mayor of Malmo, Linnea Uppessal, told the BBC when Lunch Beat was beginning to pick up in its native home. He endorsed the lunchtime dance party after seeing the effect on his staff. "They seem more relaxed than normal."
Disco balls were involved in some Lunch Beats. Others resemble house parties or outdoor discos. The music ranges from funk to techno to oldies.
The Lunch Beat is all set to go at the dance studio, 580 14th St.
"We're definitely going to create ambiance in there," French said.
Anyone who has time and wants to dance between noon and 1 p.m. is welcome, she said.
Tickets are $15 and lunch will be an organic vegetarian Indian meal.
The DJ, Rhythmystic, is known for bass-centric, genre-bending mixing skills, according to a bio: "a sensual whisper to full-throttled, low-frequency breaks; from bump-steppin', mid-tempo funktronica to tribal house explosions, always on a mission to bring the universal message from throbbing heart of the Beatstream: God Made You Funky."