The Atheist Plinth

On Sunday 4th August, the Atheist Bus Campaign moved onto the next level. As part of the One and Other project, excellent photographer for the British Humanist Association and all around nice guy Andrew West took an original atheist bus sign onto the Fourth Plinth at Trafalgar Square and taught the assembled crowd the choreography for the Michael Jackson song Thriller as a celebration of atheism and dance. I was lucky enough to be there and experience the thrill first-hand.

The weather that day was glorious with a clear blue sky, bright sunshine and some light breezes. I was there with a couple of friends and slowly but surely amidst the idle groups of tourists there emerged some familiar faces from the Central London Humanist Group and people with atheist bus campaign t-shirts. Finally, the cherry picker started carrying Andrew up to the Plinth and his supporters and backing troupe started assembling ourselves in front of the Plinth. Andrew introduced himself and then started carefully assembling his full size atheist bus campaign sign which stood proudly at the edge of the plinth. Back on the ground, we looked at each other nervously and started clearing a space for the dancing while trying to entice onlookers to join us. Then, the PA was ready, the space was ready and the dancers looked up to Andrew for our first instructions.

Andrew started off by showing the group the first few moves and introducing them to the timing. People looked on, dancers beckoned to reluctant friends to join and the first refrains of music started to play. Unfortunately, I missed the first few sections as I was weaving through the crowd handing out leaflets, explaining what was happening and encouraging more people to join in. After a while the dancing looked like too much fun so I took a deep breath and joined in with some other newcomers on the backrow and I started to learn the next section. It took a couple of goes to get into the swing of it but within five minutes I was ghouling and gurning with the rest of them joined by a small group of spanish teenage girls who were evidently on a school trip.

It was a fantastic event. We hadn’t learned all of it by the end of the hour but we had a respectable routine which went to the end of the chorus and a solid crowd of onlookers cheering, tapping their feet and shaking their hips. We raised awareness of atheism and humanism and showed that atheists and humanists do have a sense of fun and know how to have a good time.

The whole event can be viewed online at the One and the Other page for Krypto, and if you want to see the final run through of the dance it’s at 55 minutess and 14 seconds into the video. It is possible to learn the dance yourself by watching the whole thing and joining in. Bob Churchill from the British Humanist Association was there filming the event (as well as bringing the bus sign!) so there may well be something up on the BHA YouTube channel too in the future. Andrew West’s account of his experience up on the Plinth can be found here and here.

1 Response to “The Atheist Plinth”

  1. 1 Andrew August 21, 2009 at 10:34 am

    Thanks for the lovely write-up! Didn’t spot you were giving out leaflets – nice one. Really glad you came along and enjoyed it, and thanks for encouraging people to join in!

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