Monday, January 03, 2022

Flashmobs 2021

Whither thou, graceful flashmob goddess?
I get a real kick out of flashmobs - when they are done right. I collected some of my favorite flashmobs in a Youtube playlist.

I even made a list of flashmob rules, which nobody asked for.

Unfortunately Youtube is now flooded with "flashmob" videos that break all the rules. Even worse, in the time since I made my list, a plague of "proposal flashmobs" have appeared and that's just terrible for so many reasons. 

A flashmob is not a private party, performed in public. And that includes birthdays, graduations, any other events. A flashmob should exist for itself, alone, as a public event, not as public window-dressing to a private event.

Flashmobs were more in vogue, a hot new thing, ten years ago, so there are more entries from then and so more chances for high quality. I fear we will see far fewer good flashmob videos going forward.

It's hard to top a bikini flashmob - you go, barely dressed college kids - you flash those pasty white bodies in the California sun. You are not their toy! 

Will we ever see a flashmob video of such perfect editing as the Ravel's Bolero in the Copehagen train station with the Cophehangen philharmonic? I fear not. 

And what about this adorable Bollywood flashmob from 2010 with the college professors and (fully clothed) college kids who range in dancing ability from painfully awkward to gloriously graceful? I so adore the Black girl who jumps into the performance at the 1 minute mark. I love her casual yet joyful dancing so much I almost tear up when I watch it. It's twelve years on now, I hope she has a job that she likes - maybe as a ballet dancer or dance instructor. Also thanks to this flashmob video I discovered this (definitely not flashmob) video, called Salaam-E-Ishq, a musical number as complicated and spectacular as anything from the golden age of Hollywood musicals. 

My native Philadelphia's City Hall Park has never looked so good as in this perfectly-edited flashmob video. The dude in the business suit - especially when he's in the fountain - raises this to next level.

This video, "IDF Israeli soldiers dancing to Kesha - Tik Tok in Hebron" is not called a flashmob, but I don't know what else it is. The fact that it's performed while on military patrol raises it to the level of sublime. You can't get any better than that.

It's so difficult to find good, recently-recorded flashmob videos now, because the majority of videos labeled "flashmob" on Youtube are nothing more than traditional staged musical and/or dance performances in public spaces. It took me ages to find videos from recent years that I consider real flashmobs:

  • Flashmob 'Danser Encore' Rotterdam May 2021 makes the cut although the video starts too late and is amateurish and badly edited. Also I'm not crazy about the song itself. And the performance is a little too raw, but that's better than too polished. And at least it has the performance starts with the element of surprise and builds gradually out of the crowd. It also helps that the person to get the flashmob going looks like a street crazy. It's always good to have the instigator look a little crazy, that way it's more gratifying when the entire performance in all its competent glory kicks in.
  • Choir Flashmob: Nessun Dorma (Puccini - Turandot) is technically a flashmob although it's not exciting - they could have picked a perkier, more well-known song. But at least it's flash and it's (barely) a mob. Which is much more than you can say for the overwhelming majority of recently-published "flashmob" videos.
  • Opera flash mob in Shangri la gets big points for having many of its opera singers dressed as food servers. The soprano's entrance is especially effective. Plus this video uses split screen at a few points which I have never seen before. And the crowd reactions are great. Points off for the commercial tagged on the end.

  • Flash Mob - Funny Student Performance During a Test should not technically be included because it breaks one of my cardinal rules for a good flashmob - it's not performed in a public space. However, it is so great in so many other ways I had to include it. It has the element of surprise, multiple cameras, a familiar catchy tune but original, very audience-relatable lyrics and even live music. And the reaction of the test proctor is priceless. This really captures perfectly the benign but subversive flashmob ethos right up there with IDF Israeli soldiers dancing to Kesha - Tik Tok in Hebron. And I agree with one of the commenters - if I was the prof I would give all the performers an A.