Different Types of Flash Mobs
Originally, flash mobs were intended to baffle, amaze and amuse. These days, they're formed for various reasons, from downright silly to deadly serious. Here are just a few of the different types of flash mobs and flash-mob inspired events taking place today:
- Flash celebrations: Whether it's a gigantic pillow fight in Vancouver or a silent disco in London, flash mobs of this type stay true to the no-agenda, "appear and disappear" modus operandi of Bill Wasik's original flash mobs. Crowds of synchronized strangers appear at an appointed time and place, and for a few blissful minutes, their antics entrance onlookers.
- Random acts of culture: The brainchild of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, "Random Acts of Culture" is a flash-mob-inspired arts initiative that gifts inspiring pop-up performances to local communities. One of the most talked about RAOC was a surprise, six-minute performance by more than 650 Philadelphia area choristers, who burst into Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus" at a local Macy's department store [source: Kino].
- Marketing mobs: Taking note of the number of YouTube hits and water cooler discussions flash mob performances were generating, it was only a matter of time before savvy advertising executives co-opted the art form for marketing purposes. In 2009, T-Mobile staged a choreographed dance medley in the London Underground, which the company filmed and later used in advertisements [source: The Week].
- Flash politics: Similarly, causes ranging from anti-abortion to antismoking have adopted the flash mob as a way to mobilize members and generate media attention for their platforms.
- Urban pranksters: New York City group Improv Everywhere has been performing sophisticated "urban pranks" since 2001. Some of their pranks possess decidedly flash-moblike characteristics. For instance, in January 2011, thousands of pranksters in dozens of cities around the globe stripped off their trousers to participate in a coordinated "No Pants Subway Ride" [source: Improv Everywhere].
Whether they're sponsored by a soda company or performed for the sheer joy of it, participating in a flash mob is fun. Find out how to unearth these underground escapades in the next section.