Wednesday, December 08, 2010

'Flash mobs' go viral around the world

Cross-posted at the Washington Examiner....

Have you seen them? Flash mobs, those random eruptions into song and dance in public places worldwide, sometimes by thousands of participants who appear to be going about their business as usual and suddenly begin a choreographed performance before dispensing back into the crowd, are popping up everywhere. Videos of these fun events are going viral, receiving tens of millions of hits from viewers as word spreads through emails, blogs, and Facebook about this growing phenomenon.

One very popular example of a flash mob is the March 2009 video that featured over 200 participants in Antwerp, Belgium, Central train station who spontaneously broke into choreographed dance steps to the  Sound of Music song "Do Re Mi" while passers-by watch in amazement. The video has received more than 21 million hits.

Not viewed by quite that many people but still popular, a "Glee" flash mob with over 1,000 dancers took place in Seattle earlier this year, dancing to a medley of songs from the hit television series. The video has already been viewed by over 1.1 million people so far.

Almost two million have watched the very entertaining Ohio State University students dance to "Don't Stop Belivin' " in the Ohio Union student activity center. Even Elvis got into the flash  mob act at the Mall of America, and Oprah was surprised with a flash mob of 21,000 who danced to the Black Eyed Peas song "Tonight's Going To Be A Good Night." That video has had more than 2.6 million viewers.

The Hallelujah Chorus, a popular Christmas selection, was the song of choice for over 650 Philadelphia Opera Company singers on October 30th of this year who labeled it a "random act of culture." Posing as shoppers in downtown Philly's Macy's Department Store, formerly known as Wanamaker's, the choristers responded as the Wanamaker organ, the largest pipe organ in the world, began the familiar opening chords from Handel's "Messiah" at precisely 12:00 Noon. The event was funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation who hope to have 1,000 "random acts of culture" over the next three years with the intention of taking "the classical arts out of the concert halls and opera houses" and into the communities, as posted on the YouTube page.

Among its links of news stories on Sunday, the Drudge Report featured a link to the video of a flash mob that entertained unsuspecting shoppers in a food court, also with the Hallelujah Chorus. Filmed less than three weeks ago, it has already picked up almost 11 million views.

ImprovEverywhere has spent the past decade executing a flash mob-type of event including one at New York's Grand Central Terminal filmed two years ago featuring over 200 people who froze in place, a video that has had over 24 million hits. A dance tribute to Michael Jackson filmed in Stockholm, Sweden, has captured 8 million viewers watching 300 dance in sync to "Beat It."

One of the newest flash mobs that was filmed a week ago took place in a mall in Michigan when "shoppers" began singing "Silent Night." Another, filmed just two days ago at a pedestrian mall on Nantucket, features participants wearing Santa hats and dancing to a montage of Christmas music beginning with "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town."

Want to find more flash mob performances? Go to and search for "flash mobs" or "random acts of culture" and take your pick from the dozens and dozens of videos available with more hitting the airways every day. With interest growing, don't be surprised if you're eating lunch in the food court one day and suddenly your fellow diners begin to sing and dance. You could be witnessing a flash mob.

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