What is a Dance Flash Mob?

Posted: Oct 07 2016

What is a Flash Mob | Dancewear | Tokyo Monster | If you have ever seen a clip on YouTube or on the TV of a group of people dancing in a public place, then you have an idea what a flash mob dance is.  Flash mobs have been used for a variety of purposes, from simply good fun to advertising.  But what makes a flash mob dance and what are the most famous examples of them?

When does a dance group become a Flash Mob?

The term flash mob or flash mob dance seems to have been coined around 2003 and refers to an assembly of people that gather together to dance, sing or otherwise perform.  It isn’t used to refer to political gatherings or publicity stunts, though some have been used as advertising or to raise awareness of a brand or cause.  If organised by a company for this purpose, they are often called smart mobs. 

Flash Mob – The Beginning

The first flash mob was the brainchild of a senior editor at Harper’s Magazine called Bill Wasik.  Back in 2003, he tried to set up a flash mob in Manhattan but the plan failed when someone tipped off the shop they were planning to target.  The second attempt took place at Macy’s and was more successful as requests to join were sent covertly through a series of notices in bars and participants were sent to staging areas before being told where they were targeting.

Some 130 people turned up on the 9th floor of the store, wanting to buy an expensive rug.  They claimed to all live together in a warehouse on the outskirts of the city and were shopping together.  Suddenly, around 200 people appeared in the lobby of the Hyatt hotel and held synchronised applause for 15 seconds before dispersing. 

Asked what the point of the experiment was, Wasik said that he wanted to poke fun at the attitude of conformity in society and show that people wanted to be a part of the ‘next big thing’.  But the idea backfired on him and led to the flash mob concept.

Great Flash Mob Examples

Since then, the flash mob dance has taken place around the world in a variety of different forms.  The ‘Frozen Grand Central’ is often credited as the first real flash mob and saw some 200 people suddenly freeze in the middle of Grand Central Station before suddenly walking away – the funniest part is the expression of the onlookers, who had no idea what was going on!

While this was a prank, a number of notable flash mob dances since then have been organised to promote or highlight a brand or event.  Examples include the Sound of Music Antwerp, where around 200 dancers started dancing in the Central Station in Antwerp to advertise a TV show searching for someone to play the lead in a Sound of Music play – it received over 16 million views on YouTube.

Even famous people can be victim of a flash mob, as seen on the Oprah show.  The live show included a performance by the Black Eyed Peas but no-one expected the whole audience to begin to dance!

Flash Mob dancing while looking spontaneous actually takes many hours of practice and planning but results with a very special experience for those both who take part and the unsuspecting audience. The Flash Mob dance format has been used from everything from proposals to promotions and everything in-between and are great for raising the profile of dance and bringing a smile.

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