Strictly business: Swedish "lunch beat"

It's a new craze.

...and the fourth rule of lunch beat is: "You don’t talk about your job at Lunch Beat."  Swedes have started dancing at lunch, offices turning up at discos to bop, with (Swedish) precision, between the hours of 12 and 1. The new craze is dubbed "your week's most important business lunch", but it's strictly not for networking. Instead, the founders say, the session is for the purposes of "playfulness, participation and community," so that workers return to their desks energised and more productive. These wholesome raves have proved a hit, and in 2011, "lunch disco" was adopted as a word by the Swedish Language Council.

According to Slate:

It started in the fall of 2010 when 14 friends decided to dance their lunch breaks away in their office garage. They called their gathering "Lunch Beat". As rumors about this literally underground movement spread, more and more people joined in. Today, Lunch Beat events are being arranged by a core group of organizers at venues around Sweden, attracting up to 600 people each time, and copycat clubs are popping up across Europe.

Lunchbeat sessions are now being held in Serbia, Finland, Germany, Portugal and the UK. The raves are sober - only soft drinks are available, and are said to be particularly popular with ex-ravers who now have kids, can't go out at weekends, and work in middle management.

Photograph: Getty Images
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There are two sides to the Muslim segregation story

White families must also be prepared to have Muslim neighbours. 

Dame Louise Casey finally published her review on social integration in Britain. Although it mentions all communities, there is a clear focus on Muslim communities. However, the issues she raises - religious conservatism, segregation in some areas and Muslim women experiencing inequalities -  are not new. In this case, they have been placed in one report and discussed in the context of hindering integration. If we are truly committed to addressing these issues, though, we have a duty of care to discuss the findings with nuance, not take them out of context, as some tabloids have already done.

The review, for example, highlights that in some areas Muslims make up 85 per cent of the local population. This should not be interpreted to mean that Muslims are choosing to isolate themselves and not integrate. For a start, the review makes it clear that there are also certain areas in Britain that are predominantly Sikh, Hindu or Jewish.

Secondly, when migrants arrive in the UK, it is not unreasonable for them to gravitate towards people from similar cultural and faith backgrounds.  Later, they may choose to remain in these same areas due to convenience, such as being able to buy their own food, accessing their place of worship or being near elderly relatives.

However, very little, if any, attention is given to the role played by white families in creating segregated communities. These families moved out of such areas after the arrival of ethnic minorities. This isn't necessarily due to racism, but because such families are able to afford to move up the housing ladder. And when they do move, perhaps they feel more comfortable living with people of a similar background to themselves. Again, this is understandable, but it highlights that segregation is a two-way street. Such a phenomenon cannot be prevented or reversed unless white families are also willing to have Muslim neighbours. Is the government also prepared to have these difficult conversations?

Casey also mentions inequalities that are holding some Muslim women back, inequalities driven by misogyny, cultural abuses, not being able to speak English and the high numbers of Muslim women who are economically inactive. It’s true that the English language is a strong enabler of integration. It can help women engage better with their children, have access to services and the jobs market, and be better informed about their rights.

Nevertheless, we should remember that first-generation Pakistani and Bangladeshi women, who could not speak English, have proved perfectly able to bring up children now employed in a vast range of professions including politics, medicine, and the law. The cultural abuses mentioned in the review such as forced marriage, honour-based violence and female genital mutilation, are already being tackled by government. It would be more valuable to see the government challenge the hate crimes and discrimination regularly faced by Muslim women when trying to access public services and the jobs market. 

The review recommends an "Oath of Integration with British Values and Society" for immigrants on arrival. This raises the perennial question of what "British Values" are. The Casey review uses the list from the government’s counter-extremism strategy. In reality, the vast majority of individuals, regardless of faith or ethnic background, would agree to sign up to them.  The key challenge for any integration strategy is to persuade all groups to practice these values every day, rather than just getting immigrants to read them out once. 

Shaista Gohir is the chair of Muslim Women's Network UK, and Sophie Garner is the general secretary and a barrister.