Confessions of a Flash Mobber

Yup, that’s right.  Last weekend, I was in a Flash Mob.  And not only that, I loved it.

This was a local, sort of modest dance flash mob.  For the uninitiated among you, a flash mob is a group of people who assemble suddenly, in a public place, at a set time, in order to perform some entertaining act – singing, dancing, or a performance of some kind – and then disperse as quickly as they appeared.  On a grand scale, check out the Chicago flash mob (to a live performance of the Black Eyed Peas) staged for Oprah Winfrey.  You can even learn the choreography.

Carol Sereda, who owns and operates Sereda Dance Workshop in Natick, MA was the visionary behind this particular flash mob.  I take modern dance classes from her every week and she put the idea out to her dancers as a possible way to promote her newly formed studio.  We all embraced it enthusiastically so, she put together the choreography (with her friend Elaine). Over a period of four weeks, she gathered a rag-tag group of us to rehearse and stage it with her.  We met on Friday nights, in her studio, to learn the steps and practice our formation.  There were about ~30 of us, in total – men, women, tweens, and little kids – most of us amateurs (but enthusiastic ones!).

But even though we were beginners as this, the choreography was not simple – there was no pandering here.  Carol hit upon just the right blend of attractive, big steps (“jazz hands!”), repeated often enough so that we could all grapple with its structure.  Here’s a short clip of us rehearsing in her studio space (I am, mercifully, out of the videographer’s view).

On the fateful day, we all met at the studio for one last run-thru – excitement was building – and then walked, in small groups of 3’s and 4’s (so as not to raise suspicion), to the Natick Town Square, where the flash mob would be staged. There was a health faire scheduled that day, in the Square, with various vendors set up at tables, giving demonstrations.  So, in a sense, we fit right in with the Judo and Tai Kwon Do demos.

At the appointed hour we started.  Three of Carol’s teenaged ballet students started a stuffy looking ballet demo with classical music that quickly stalled, scratched, and transformed to a rousing rendition of the 1964 hit, Dancing in the Streets (Martha and the Vandellas).  We all stood around the perimeter, like innocent bystanders, until it was our moment to fold into the fray, swelling the ranks by 10’s until there we all were – strutting, stomping, hooting, and clapping our way through the piece.  The crowd, I have to say, looked on in complete surprise.  I’m sure that it all happened so fast, they weren’t even really sure what hit them.  I have to say the best part of this experience was that feeling – ancient and compelling – of dancing in a big group.  Mothers and sons, fathers and daughters, old and young – for a moment, we were all in step, savoring the music together, creating the beat.

Here we are:



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6 responses to “Confessions of a Flash Mobber

  1. Kate

    Oh what fun! Lindyhoppers are big on the shim-sham, which we’re prone to breaking out at the least opportunity (with Frankie leading):

    Here’s a tribute to Frankie , who died in 2009, in a worldwide shim-sham:

    And here’s the original Big Apple featuring Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers (including Frankie), another lindy hop favorite:

  2. rheyden

    Ohmigod, kate! these are fabulous!!! My favorite is the one with the folks in snow shoes on the global shim sham. The original flash mob. And I take it YOU are a Lindy Hopper?

    • Kate

      I was, for about 10 years (also West Coast Swing, Carolina Shag, Balboa, etc.). I only dance a couple of times a year, these days, but I *will* get back to it. I WILL I WILL I WILL.


      This bout of hysteria sponsored by Motherhood.

  3. Scott Belsky

    This is a great post! I’m a high school English teacher in New Jersey and my class studies popular social trends. We will be examining “flash mobbing,” and I’ve included your post as a resource. The students’ responses will be posted to the link below sometime in September:

  4. WHAT A GREAT POST THANKS SO MUCH!!!!!!!!!!!!! OH MY GOSH!!!!!!!!!!

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