Saturday, September 10, 2011


Flash Mob Performs Haka in Queenstown
[action begins about 60 seconds in after the traffic lights change]

A 2002 article says Swarming is a classic example of how once-isolated individuals are discovering a new way to organise order out of chaos, without guidance. It reverses the idea that geography, in an Internet age, has become irrelevant - the whole point is to bring people together in one location for face-to-face contact.

More recently, this sort of activity is being described as a Flash Mob. Wikipedia says
A flash is a group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual and sometimes seemingly pointless act for a brief time, then disperse, often for the purposes of entertainment, satire, artistic expression or—in some cases—violence. [The 2005 Cronulla riots were described by one criminologists as a form of swarming.]

International Pillow Fight Day took place on March 22, 2008. Over 25 cities around the globe participated in the first "international flash mob", which was the world's largest flash mob to date.

San Francisco Pillow Fight

The most common examples of Flash Mobs I could find on YouTube were dance, with the spontaneity – and the responses of surprised bystanders – making the whole business so appealing

Michael Jackson’s Beat It


Some years ago we went to see Bette Midler’s extravaganza Kiss My Brass, and a few minutes into the second half her mic started to cut in and out. Eventually she stopped the show, telling the techs “these people have paid good Australian dollars to see this show, so let’s get it right”.
Everyone waited patiently for the problem to get sorted. And waited. Then we waited some more. we’d all paid a lot of money for a night of great fun, and just as one or two fools started complaining out loud, a hand full of people started a Mexican wave, which was a perfect way to keep the buzz happening while we waited.
[Eventually the show re-started and then ran smoothly.] 

Melbourne’s city square was originally just a wide open space. Experts and planners kept haggling over what to do with it, but I was chuffed with it the way it was. In 1972 Gough Whitlam addressed a crowd that simply wouldn’t fit into the square today, and I must say the mood was rather positive.
But most days, something was happening, even if it was just people sitting in the sun to eat their lunch. One day some students pushed a piano all the way down from RMIT and started an impromptu singalong. We didn’t have video cameras to record the event, but everyone was beaming.

Dance crazes are good because, with the exception of those handicapped by a total lack of rhythm, just about everyone can join in and “belong” with a mob of perfect strangers; think the Bus Stop, Nutbush, the Hustle or even just C & W line-dancing.

In my wild imagination, I see protests turning into Flash Mob Dance sessions. For a few years, John Farnham’s “You’re the Voice” played clearly during the Palm Sunday Peace Marches. No idiots ever came along to hijack the marches or turn them ugly.

In fact, forget the protests, let's just cut straight to the fun. Bollywood, anyone?


  1. Gee thanks Fruitcake. I have just spent 30 minutes watching flash mob clips from around the world. That is thirty minutes of my life I won't get back.

  2. Hi Andrew,
    I hope the thirty minutes weren't ALL wasted... you might suffer oops have a flashback one day.

  3. The earliest one I saw was on TV while watching cricket during the Merv Hughes era. Merv was doing his warm up exercises on the ground while waiting to be called in to bowl, and the entire stadium behind him started copying all his movements! Amazing to watch, must have been even better to be there! Can't recall exactly when it was ...

    And gee, has Andrew lost the ability to choose for himself??!!

  4. Hi Red,
    The cricket one would have been the best if not the only interesting thing ever seen on a cricket broadcast! Cricket I don't understand, but the let's get together and have fun stuff is fun. In an earlier post there was Grocery Store Musical - live fun is a gift that just keeps on giving [if you can hold your video camera still]

    Perhaps in a generation or two, instead of waving "hi" people will make a gesture that simulates taking a photo with phone camera.

    [Suspect Andrew had fun or he would have stopped looking.]

  5. I think the first flash mob thing I saw was the Sound of Music one. It's really cool.

    Although I love the idea of flash mobs, I think impromptu things would be even better. I love your story about the sing-a-long.

    I would love it if the world turned into a musical.

    I like your Bollywood idea.

  6. Hi Dina, every time I see another one of these clips I end up grinning like a fool - watching the watchers is contagious. Plus I'm getting to see a lot of the world [like the Sound of Music I just looked for is in the Antwerp railway station.]

    Have you ever seen Bride and Prejudice?

  7. The Antwerp one was the first I saw a few years ago. Perhaps the best. I spent even more time later looking at flash mob clips as our house guests wanted to see some.

  8. Hi Again Andrew,
    If we had been there in Antwerp when the Sound of Music started up, The Other would have laughed hysterically because it's on my own list of don't ever want to see/hear again shows. BUT that station concourse is something to see.

    In NoLogo Naomi Klein observed that as we move from strip shopping to corporation owned malls etc we are gradually losing our 'public spaces', so seeing these public spaces used like this is another bonus.

    I must confess I'm a YouTube junkie... in amongst all the iron pyrites there are some real nuggets.