Combining A Cappella and Flash Mobs

Guest Columns

Erin Steiner is a full-time writer who writes about a variety of topics and really does wish that life could be a musical.

If you tell people that you wish life could be a musical, you can expect to spend some time in the gutters of your social circle, pleading your case and biding your time until your taste in things is trusted again.

“Come on,” you say. “How great would that be, to be walking along and suddenly everybody starts doing the ‘run for the bus’ tango? And everybody knows the steps and the words? It would be like Fame! But better! Because it would be real!”

Enter the flash mob: the musical theater lover’s answer to making regular life into a real-life musical adventure. They are exciting! And terrifying until you figure out what’s going on.

To be fair, the first flash mobs weren’t inherently musical in nature. The very first flash mob, in fact, coordinated efforts between three locations and involved 130
people in Macy’s shopping for a “love rug” together, 200 people in a Hyatt bursting into applause for fifteen seconds, and a bunch of people pretending to be tourists invading a shoe store in SoHo. The event was coordinated by Bill Wasik, the senior editor for Harper’s Magazine.

Today there are all sorts of different types of flash mobs. The “freeze” variety tends to be very popular (a bunch of people simultaneously freeze in place for a few minutes and then simultaneously start moving again as if nothing had happened).

Over time (the first flash mob on record took place in early 2003), though, they’ve evolved into something more elaborate, and today it’s fair to say that when people think of flash mobs, they think of staged musical numbers.

The evolution of the flash mob hasn’t stopped there, though!

Do you remember this?

That was one of the most popular videos in 2011.

A cappella flash mobs were once rare, but now they are growing more popular every day. This might be because they are easier to set up and to make look spontaneous. It’s hard to set up instruments and then surprise people by using them. They also don’t require the use of speaker systems for pre-recorded background music, should instruments and players not be available or willing to take part. They are also, arguably, more fun and better-sounding.

They also tend to be better received—you know, once people get over their shock of being surrounded by people suddenly bursting into song and vocalized accompaniment.

Life is more fun when it feels like a musical. A cappella flash mobs prove this, and I'm glad that they are here to stay.