‘Party Rock Anthem’ made a great hit in Korea last year. The infectious beat following the lyrics ‘Everyday I’m shufflin’, made many people dance. The Electro Hop group LMFAO featured several electro house dancers performing the shuffle in the ‘Party Rock Anthem’ music video. If you have watched it, the term ‘Flash Mob’ may strike you. A Flash Mob is a performance by a group of people who suddenly assemble in a public place and they perform an unusual and seemingly pointless act for a brief time and then disperse in an instant. It was first started in New York and spread out to big cities like Dallas, Boston, and San Francisco, as well as London, Paris, and Munich. Why would they do such an odd behavior? What meaning do they want to covey? The first documented use of the term ‘Flash Mob’ was in 2003 in an article of a blog posted in the aftermath of Wasik’s event. The term was inspired by the earlier term ‘Smart Mob’ which refers to performances such as protests, and other gatherings. The compound word ‘Flash Mob’ contains the terms ‘Flash Crowd’ and ‘Smart Mob’. (Flash Crowd describes a network phenomenon where a network or host suddenly receives a lot of traffic in a web site on a blog or news column. Smart Mob is a group that, contrary to the usual connotations of a mob, behaves intelligently or efficiently because of its exponentially increasing network links.)
Flash Mob was started by an unknown man, Bill Wasik. He referred to himself as ‘an employee of a culture industry in New York’ (Afterwards, he was identified as the senior editor of Harper Magazine.) The process of planning the performance was simple. Bill sent his friends a Flash Mob invitation e-mail and the people who received the e-mail sent their friends the same e-mail again. At first, they gathered in a pub and at a set time. A person wearing particular clothes that only participants could identify distributed cards containing their mission and the starting time. At last, they followed the mission in the card. The important point here is that they should be strict about their finishing time and the scattering direction should not be the same.
One day, he sent an email to fifty of his friends. It said that they would assemble in a certain Accessory Shop in Broadway. The attempt, however, failed as a result of the store-owner being tipped off about the plan by the police.
The next attempt happened in front of a carpet shop at a Macy Department Store. A hundred participants behaved like they wanted to buy carpet, but they did not buy anything and dispersed. The third attempt gathered in the second floor of the Hyatt Hotel in Park Avenue in New York and they clapped for 15 seconds with no reason, then they dispersed. The fourth place was at a fine shoes store in Soho. 250 people pretended to be tourists, and they went all over the shop and disappeared.
Flash Mobs in New York lead by Bill spread out fast through the Internet. In Rome, Italy 300 participants entered a large shopping mall and tried to find only things that the store did not have. Since the starting of Flash Mob, it has gained popularity all over the world. There was a unique case where a man proposed to his girl friend using a flash mob dancing to a song ‘Marry you’ by Bruno Mars. The video was on the global news.
Lately, in Korea, people did a Flash Mob in Seoul Square in remembrance of the Pyeong-chang Special Olympics. People did not want to gather there without a Flash Mob. A Flash mob can attract many people, so many people got to know about the existence of Special Olympics.
Other than what was mentioned above, there have been many Flash Mobs. For example, in front of Lotte Department Store, four people wearing a mask sang a wonderful song. Suddenly, the elegant song changed to ‘Moves Like Jagger’ by Maroon 5 and people wearing suits danced together.
Why do they do Flash Mobs? They say Nothing! They simply want to please themselves by getting along with unfamiliar people. They can dance with and talk with them. A Flash Mob can make participants and viewers feel the joy of breaking away from the routine of daily life and novelty. If A Flash Mob has meaning, and is not just a happening, can it be considered to play the role of ‘Herald’?
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