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August 11, 2004

Flash Mobs --the first, second and historical precedents


"The idea was that the audience would become the performance"

The first Flash Mob, according to Bill, it's anonymous planner, was to take place at Claire's Accessories near Astor Place in New York City. Claire’s sold hair scrunchies and barrettes and was the kind of store where you seldom saw more than two or three customers at a time. The idea, Bill said, was "that people would arrive, fill the entire store, and that those trapped outside would start chanting "Accessories!"" But when the crowd arrived, Claire’s Accessories was already swarming with cops.

On Tuesday June 19, 2003, at precisely 7:27p.m. the second Mob gathering took place and with great success as 150 people gathered in Macy’s midtown store and surrounded a $10,000 Persian-style carpet. Explaining that they all lived together in a communal style warehouse in Long Island City and were in the market for a Love Rug, the Mob hovered around the carpet until exactly 7:37, and then left – without the rug.

"Flash Mobs were an experiment," Bill said, "in using email to bring strangers together in a collective action directed towrd simple politics. In these specific cases, people choosing fun."

Read more about the early history of Flash Mobs and their historical precedents in My Name is Bill… by Alec Hanley Bemis in the LA Weekly, August 6-12, 2004.

And while you’re there, check out Judith Lewis’ The Future Belongs to Crowds: a brief history of spontaneous gatherings.

Posted by newradio at August 11, 2004 03:35 AM