Social Media Web Culture

What A Flash Mob Is & How You Can Participate

Tina Sieber 19-10-2010

A Flash Mob is a large group of people who gather at a public location to perform a pre-defined action, typically a brief dance, and disperse rapidly after the event has concluded.


Flash Mobs are an internet phenomenon of the 21st century. Although Flash Mobs don’t happen online, they are organized using social media, viral emails, or websites in general. Consequently, the first ‘official’ gathering of this nature was attempted in Manhatten in May 2003, the early days of social media. The phenomenon has since spread across the globe and Flash Mobs are open to anyone to join.

Would you like to participate in a Flash Mob? This articles shows you how to find flash mobs and a few videos from past successful Flash Mobs.

How Does It Work?

Flash Mobs are initiated online. The organizers set up a website, mailing list, and/or a viral message that provides all necessary instructions for potential participants. This of course includes the date, time, and meeting point in the real world, as well as the action to perform, for example a video of the dance moves.

An example of an upcoming worldwide Flash Mob is Thrill The World, a tribute to Michal Jackson. Since 2006 it has been held on the weekend before Halloween. This year it will be held in countries around the globe on Saturday, October 23rd, in an attempt to break a Guinness World Record.

This is what the practicing session looked like in Vancouver in 2010:


To participate in October, learn the dance here:

Now let’s look at some ways you can find other upcoming Flash Mobs in your area.

Improv Everywhere & The Urban Prankster Network

Improv Everywhere, aka IE, is a performance art group based in New York City. They started to ’cause scenes’ as early as 2001. In the meantime their ‘missions’ often involve a high number of ‘agents’, which they recruit through their website. However, not all of their pranks strictly fit the Flash Mob definition.

One of their latest missions called for people to invade a beach dressed in business attire:


One of Improv Everywhere’s most famous pranks is the ‘Frozen Grand Central’ mission:

If you are not in New York, you may find a local IE-inspired group on The Urban Prankster Network.

The site is simple to use and very basic. Anyone can post their Flash Mob and you can search the latest posts for Flash Mobs in your area. Unfortunately, there is no way to pre-sort the entries by location, you have to use your eagle eye.

what is a flash mob


Social Media

The best and most reliable way to find out about a Flash Mob are social media networks like Twitter or Facebook. Simply search for the keywords ‘flash mob’ / ‘flashmob’ or follow groups and people who regularly tip off Flash Mobs.

Facebook: Flashmob groups and pages; Flash Mob groups and pages.

Twitter: flashmobfreedom, flashmobbrasil, flashmobamerica

flash mob



For some time the Flash Mob movement received a lot of attention from the media. Subsequently, companies picked it up to use it for viral marketing and even advertisements. The T-Mobile Dance is a famous example.

Flash Mobs are out of the ordinary and simply fun. If you have a list of ‘Things To Do Before You Die’, being part of a Flash Mob should definitely be on it. Well, maybe you can already cross that item off your list. If you ever participated in a Flash Mob, what did you do and what was it like?

Feature image credits: Karen Seaboyer

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