A Day in the Life of a Flashmobber
The Semi-fictional Viewpoint of a New Yorker, 6:25PM, Hell’s Kitchen, NYC:
A darkening sky signals the close of another typical day. Still, there are errands to complete, people to meet, and deadlines to beat. Head lowered, you bump shoulders with other New Yorkers engrossed in their smartphones. With half an hour to go till your next dinner date, it might be a good idea to fuel up on caffeine at this nearby café. It’s your first time sitting down all day, but you feel almost guilty being still. No time for fun! Got to be on the run!
But what’s this? An average Jill has caught your eye; she stands frozen in a dramatic pose on the sidewalk. That’s weird… Then again, you’re bound to meet colorful characters in New York. To your surprise, another pedestrian joins her and also strikes a pose. Maybe you’re going crazy, but you think you can hear music coming out of nowhere. Things are definitely looking interesting.
The girls shuffle their feet and snap their fingers in sync. Before long, men and women of all shapes and sizes are dancing. They know all the moves and play their parts right in the punchy choreography. Even the couple seated at the next table joins in. Apparently you didn’t get the memo. Still… This is amazing! Your surroundings have transformed from a mere backdrop to an active environment. You and a few other diners exit the café to get a better look.
Suddenly, you hear an angry shout. Annoyed, you turn to glare at the party pooper. It’s the doorman of the apartment complex next door. “You can’t do that here! I’m going to call the cops!” Much to everyone else’s delight, the performers take no heed.
The ringleader of the dance prances into the crowd to pull two passersby into the circle. You’re half-relieved and half-disappointed that she didn’t pick you. The dancers form a circle and shimmy around the new participants. The music tapers off, and one of the men drops on his knees. Is this what you think it is?
The spectators are as stunned as his significant other. It’s a flashmob proposal! “Please say yes,” you whisper under your breath. He does. The crowd erupts and the dance goes on.
Most of us watch them on YouTube; to catch one live, you have to be in the right place at the right time. On the other hand, nothing is left up to chance when you’re participating in a flashmob. I was one of the ‘flashmobbers’ in the scenario above (it’s true - we almost got arrested!), but chose to describe the event from an unknowing spectator’s point of view. One of the best parts about joining a flashmob is observing the expressions of excited bystanders and imagining what they’re feeling.
Meet Benoît and Damien: the French couple were on vacation in New York last October. Little did Damien know, Benoît had a surprise up his sleeve… Benoît proposed to Damien with a flashmob! To put his goal into effect, Benoît reached out to Kinesis Project/Dancing Flashmobs NYC. Melissa Riker, Director of Kinesis Project, choreographs spontaneous dances. Kinesis Project places movement in static spaces, reeling in both dancers and non-dancers.
TIPS FOR FLASHMOB DANCERS:
Preparing for a flashmob…
1 – Join a flashmob group. I was fortunate to have stumbled upon Kinesis Project’s Meetup page. The group isn’t very large, but that’s what I like about it. Everyone knew everyone by the end of our ‘mission.’
2 - Attend rehearsals. You don’t have to be a professional dancer, but you should learn the ropes! I attended all three rehearsals prior to the big day. Melissa booked space at various dance studios and theaters around Manhattan including The Room run by New Georges, DANY studios and Stand Up Comedy Theater.aAA¨ She was also great about recording rehearsals and uploading them online so participants could pick up where they missed out, but nothing beats the actual practice sessions. I saw rehearsals as receiving passes to free dance classes!
3 – Bring a friend… Or not. Although I didn’t know a soul when I joined the group, I noted that newcomers were more likely to bring a pal. You’re bound to meet great people anyhow, because flashmobbers are fun loving folk
On the day of the flashmob…
4 - Blend into the crowd. Wear street clothes or the apparel that fits the designated theme. You’re not trying to steal the spotlight. Flashmobs are a team effort!
5 - Keep your cool. The beauty of flashmobs is that they look completely coincidental. That being said, I broke this rule… When my cue came, I ran in instead of casually striding into place. There was almost no way to curb the adrenaline coursing through my veins.
6 - Travel light. Leave your purse at home or bring a pal to keep an eye on your belongings. I stuffed my metrocard, phone, house keys, and some emergency cash in my pockets. If you're coming straight from work or class and absolutely have to carry stuff, sling on a small backpack or a fanny pack. Preferably a backpack.
7 – The dance must go on. 9/10 flashmobs take place in public spaces. There is no way of knowing what may come your way, so adapt! In our case, there was the grumpy doorman who didn’t appreciate us dancing in front of his building. Just keep in mind that the dance must go on.
Follow Sammi Lim on Twitter @ilikeloofahs
Click the Kinesis Project Website.