Flash Mobs

Flash mob videos make me ridiculously happy. I don’t know why. They just do.

According to Wikipedia, a flash mob is a large group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual action for a brief time, then quickly disperse. The term flash mob is generally applied only to gatherings organized via social media or viral emails, rather than those organized by public relations firms or for a publicity stunt.

The first flash mob was created in Manhattan in May 2003, by Bill Wasik, senior editor of Harper’s Magazine. The origins of the flash mobs were unknown until Wasik published an article about his creation in the March 2006 edition of Harper’s. The first attempt was unsuccessful after the targeted retail store was tipped off about the plan for people to gather. Wasik avoided such problems during the second flash mob, which occurred in June 3, 2003 at Macy’s department store, by sending participants to preliminary staging areas””in four prearranged Manhattan bars””where they received further instructions about the ultimate event and location just before the event began.

More than 100 people converged upon the ninth floor rug department of the store, gathering around an expensive rug. Anyone approached by a sales assistant was advised to say that the gatherers lived together in a warehouse on the outskirts of New York, that they were shopping for a “love rug”, and that they made all their purchase decisions as a group.

Subsequently, 200 people flooded the lobby and mezzanine of the Hyatt hotel in synchronized applause for about 15 seconds, and a shoe boutique in SoHo was invaded by participants pretending to be tourists on a bus trip.

Wasik claimed that he created flash mobs as a social experiment designed to poke fun at hipsters and to highlight the cultural atmosphere of conformity and of wanting to be an insider or part of “the next big thing”. The Vancouver Sun wrote, “It may have backfired on him… [Wasik] may instead have ended up giving conformity a vehicle that allowed it to appear nonconforming.”

Nothing so ironic as irony, eh?

Please enjoy some of my favorite mobs. If you only have time for one, watch Frozen Grand Central. For some reason it puts a lump in my throat every time I watch it. But this Liverpool one is cool, too. And so is … oh, heck! Watch ’em all!

This mob practiced for 8 weeks and late one night at the Liverpool train station.  On January 15th, 2009, with hidden cameras and 400 dancers at 11:00 a.m. their plan was put into action.


Frozen Grand Central


Human Mirror


Look Up More


Would you participate in a flash mob? Which of these events would you consider joining in? Got a cool idea of your own?

0 thoughts on “Flash Mobs

  1. George

    I love the idea of doing this. There are so few things any more which makes us just stop and look and say “What the heck is happening?” Very few. Usually we can tell what’s happening, and it’s not good. Jumping jacks among total strangers in skyscrapers…just because. Ideas like these strike me as the great-grandchildren of ideas like students putting flowers in the barrels of rifles.

    1. beckycc

      I think you’re absolutely right, George. I think I also like the sheer poetry of the unnecessity of it. So much of what most of us do NEEDS to be done. It’s nice to see youthful exuberance for no reason whatsoever.

  2. Eccentric Errant

    Tardy to the party, but I was researching on flash mobs and that led me here. Interesting to see that the origin can be pointed to one man. I thought this just came from nowhere with no clear origin. (=

    I wish I could get to join in one, especially one that involves dancing in the middle of a huge square!

    1. beckycc

      Never tardy to this party … it just keeps going and going and going … like a delightfully pointless Energizer Bunny!

      I bet you could find a dancing flash mob near you. And if you’re in one, you *better* send me the video, she said, shaking her fist in a threatening manner.

      Thanks for stopping by!


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