On August 5th, 2007, a small group of young people gathered at the Hongqi Street in city Changchun, Jilin Province, China. These young people, in matching clothes, and each holding a guitar, stood in line and began to sing a pop song. And suddenly, they dispersed1).
This was the first case of the globally renowned “Flash Mob” landing in Changchun, China. Fourteen participants staged their event in three downtown areas of the city, puzzling a lot of passers-by in the process.
Is it performance art? The cutting edge of a new social movement? Or just the ultimate surprise party?
A relatively new phenomenon, a flash mob is a spontaneous2) gathering of people who assemble in a predetermined3) location, perform an action, and then disperse. Participants network4) through email, bulletin boards, and social networking sites, including Facebook, Myspace, private blogs, public forums, personal websites, as well as by word of mouth and text messaging, and generally assemble silently and without comment before vanishing equally mysteriously.
The general purpose of a flash mob is to create a light-hearted gathering of people to intrigue5) and mystify6) bystanders. Yan Hao, a college student, was one of the 14 team members who took part in the Changchun Flash Mob. “I love fresh ideas,” said the young man. “And I have been longing to take part in the ‘Flash Mob’.” Unlike Yan, some other members took the activity as a way to release pressure. “We don’t know each other. Who cares who you are and what you’re doing?”
The first flash mob was organized in Manhattan, New York, US, in May 2003 by Bill Wasik, senior editor of Harper’s Magazine7). But this first event, like many, was unsuccessful.
The first successful flash mob was assembled on June 3, 2003 at New York’s Macy’s department store. More than one hundred people converged8) on the ninth floor rug9) department of Macy’s department store, gathering around one particularly expensive rug. Anyone approached by a sales assistant said that they lived together in a warehouse on the outskirts of New York, that they were shopping for a Love Rug and that they made all purchase decisions as a group. You could imagine how the store’s sales assistants were puzzled by these people!
A well known flash mob was the April 2006 Silent Disco in London. At various underground stations around London, people gathered with their portable music devices and at a set time all started dancing to their music. At the time this was by far the largest flash mob gathering by a considerable amount. It was reported that at Victoria Station more than 4,000 people were in attendance. This impacted the regular service of the London underground system enough for the city’s police to begin crowd control and slowly clear people.
★Worldwide Pillow Fight Day
Worldwide Pillow Fight Day (or International Pillow Fight Day) was a pillow fight flash mob that took place on March 22, 2008. Over 25 cities around the globe participated in the first international flash mob, which was the world’s largest flash mob to date. According to The Wall Street Journal, over 5,000 participated in New York City, overtaking London’s 2006 Silent Disco gathering as the largest recorded flash mob.
★The London Underground Tube Party
In response to a ban on drinking alcohol on the London Underground, citizens in the city organized a final Tube party on 31 May 2008, the night before the ban took effect. The party took place primarily on the Circle line, with smaller events taking place along the system. Although there are no definite figures on the turnout10), experts say there were thousands of Londoners in attendance.
★The Mp3 Experiment
In this flash mob, participants downloaded musical tracks before attending the event, and spontaneously broke into dance, following instructions embedded11) in the tracks.
The Mp3 Experiment has become an annual event. The original one took place indoors at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre12) in 2004. The audience watched a projected countdown clock and then all pressed play together. A few minutes later, the seats were empty as the entire crowd was dancing on the stage. Participants blew bubbles, hit balloons in the air, and hugged each other before being led by Santa Clause out the theatre and down the street to a nearby bar.
★The No Pants Subway Ride
The No Pants Subway Ride is annual event staged every January in New York City. The first ride began in 2002, which included 7 participants, all male. One participant entered the train pantless for 7 consecutive stops. They pretended not to notice each other, and if asked, they claimed that they “just forgot” their pants. On the 8th stop, someone came through with a duffle bag13) selling pants for $1.
This year, the eighth annual No Pants ride had 1,200 participants in New York and 1,000 more in 21 other cities across the globe.
★Frozen in Shanghai
On March 8, 2008, an assembly of people gathered on Nanjing Road to “freeze in place14) at the same time.”
Although it was raining a little and many couldn’t make it on time, the event was a great success in terms of how Chinese and foreign passers-by immediately joined in. In a matter of seconds, pedestrians15) stopped to take pictures, film, and comment on the crowd of 50-or-so people that had turned into “stone” in various positions. The group performed the “freeze” twice, once at 3 and then at 3:20 to allow late-comers to join in.
1. disperse [dIs5pE:s] vi. 分散;散开;散去
2. spontaneous [spCn5teInIEs] adj. (冲动、自然现象等)自发的;非出于强制的;非由外力诱发的
3. predetermine [7pri:dI5tE:mIn] vt. 预先决定,预先确定
4. network [5netwE:k] vt. <俚> 在同行之中征求对(问题等)的意见
5. intrigue [In5tri:^] vt. 激起……的好奇心(或兴趣);迷住
6. mystify [5mIstIfaI] vt. 把……难住,使困惑不解;使大为惊奇
7. Harper’s Magazine: 《哈泼氏》,美国主要英文杂志
8. converge [kEn5vE:dV] vi. 聚集,集中
9. rug [rQ^] n. (铺于室内部分地面上的)小地毯;毛皮地毯
10. turnout [5tE:naut] n. (为特定目的)聚集的人群;聚集人数
11. embed [Im5bed] vt. 把……嵌入(或放入、埋入、插入)
12. Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre: 正直的市民旅剧场,美国纽约市著名的喜剧剧场。规模不大,但以其剧场内上演的喜剧古怪且可笑而闻名。
13. duffle bag: = duffel bag,(圆筒状的)行李袋;duffel [5dQfEl] adj. 粗厚起绒呢料制的
14. in place: 在合适的(或常处的、原来的、指定的)位置
15. pedestrian [pI5destrIEn] n. 步行者,行人