Youngsters and professionals in the city move their feet to promote events and social causes

A flash of inspiration is now the staple of many a promotional event. The action begins and ends in a flash. So the next time you see someone in a crowd break into a dance in a busy place, don’t break into a sweat. Just go, join the mob, shake a leg and participate in a flash mob.

Many places in the city have been the venue of such flash mobs. Public campaigns, cultural programmes, cultural events in colleges, weddings, shop inaugurations, product launches, election campaigns, and film promotions… flash mobs seem to be integral to promote these events.

In fact, what Bill Wasik, senior editor of Harper’s Magazine, launched in 2003 has become a global fad.

Though it originally meant any impromptu public performance by a group of people brought together by the internet, the concept has now become synonymous with dance flash mobs.

“It’s the most entertaining way to draw the public’s attention towards a social cause or an event,” says Gokul S. G., an alumnus of Mar Ivanios college, who is also a choreographer.

A veteran when it comes to flash mobs, he was part of the first flash mob in the city at Shanghumugham in 2012, which was organised by the NGO, Save A Rupee, Spread A Smile (SARAS).

He has also choreographed flash mobs for cultural and technical events of his college and other colleges, for the promotion of She Taxi at Shanghumugham, and different awareness programmes against drug abuse and pollution.

“We even experimented with a combination of a flash mob and a college band’s performance at Saphalyam complex to promote a cultural event at Mar Ivanios. An bigger flash mob comprising 150 dancers was held at Shanghumugham during the launch of the movie 8 1/4 Second, which was also a campaign against drug abuse,” says Gokul.

Most groups dance to an eclectic mix of popular Bollywood and Kollywood tracks and English numbers. Choreographers help organisers and participants to choose the songs and mix the tracks, say Gokul.

Choreographer Sajna Najam, whose troupe has choreographed flash mobs for college festivals, health awareness programmes and marriages, feels that flash mobs have become almost a norm.

“We did a flash mob at the inauguration of a beauty parlour and another one, a bhangra piece, for a wedding at Anchal in Kollam. Recently, on the eve of his engagement to actress Indu Thampy, Major Kishore wanted us to organise a flash mob at the function. Since it was extremely difficult to organise it at the last minute, we couldn’t pull it off,” says Sajna.

Not all flash mobs are choreographed by professionals. There are organisations and companies that put up the show with their in-house choreographers.

Vishnu, an employee of Terumo Penpol, had choreographed a flash mob in connection with World Health Day, to promote blood donation.

He says: “It was a small group of 20 members. We kept the steps simple. The fun was in bringing them together, as the group had my colleagues, my friends, family members of a employees and members of SARAS,” says Vishnu.

Meanwhile, many suspect flash mobs are on its way out. Arun Nandakumar, a freelance choreographer, who has choreographed flash mobs for companies in Technopark, feels that the concept has lost its sheen, especially in colleges, and therefore people are now experimenting with it.

“For example, now you have flash mobs at weddings and to promote a brand as such,” he says.

In fact, colleges are tweaking the concept.

“That is, we put up formations in between the performance or club the mobs with performances by music bands or events such as marathon or bike rally,” says Nanditha Shankar, a student of Government Engineering College Barton Hill.

The show goes on…

Venues

While many colleges hold the event on their campuses, Shanghumugham beach, Museum, Saphalyam complex, Kanakakunnu grounds, and Gandhi Park are equally popular venues.

What’s trending

Most flash mob groups post the videos on YouTube and other social networking sites. They are posted with a catchy introduction, background music and visual effects. Many groups take the help of professional cameramen and editors. “These days a phone can be your camera. Posting the video with proper cuts, graphics and credits is not at all difficult,” says Gokul.