In 2003, the term "flash mob" was coined, and since then, thousands of attempts to pull them off have been made -- to varying degrees of success, of course. The main idea is for a pre-informed group of people to quickly assemble in a public place, after which those gathered perform a seemingly pointless and unusual act before dispersing as if nothing has happened. Of course, the truth is that these stunts are by no means simple to carry out as they often take weeks, in some cases even months, to bring together.
The first known flash mob seems to have been successfully carried out in June of 2003 after a previous attempt had failed. To pull it off, then Harper's Magazine senior editor Bill Wasik emailed people to ask them to come together at a Macy's department store in downtown Manhattan. There, over 130 accomplices converged around an expensive rug, and when they were asked by a sales assistant what they were doing, they explained that they were warehouse dwellers who were shopping for a communal "love rug." Later, Wasik explained that he had attempted the stunt to encourage spontaneity and to demonstrate how crowds could take over public spaces.
Over the years, flash mobs have been assembled for various purposes: advertising, satire, artistic expression, special occasions, or just simple entertainment. And while some of them have turned out to be forgettable, many of them have created memorable moments and have had powerful effects on the people that witnessed them.
Here are ten amazing flash mob moments that we can fortunately relive via the magic of video:
10 Oprah's Gotta Feeling
9 Passengers Lose Their Train of Thought With Music
8 A Cappella-Style Airport Welcome
7 Bounce's Michael Jackson Tribute
6 The Power of a Single Coin
5 Disease Caught by Beachgoers
4 Security Guard Stops a Flash Mob...
3 Antwerp Central Railway Station Breaks Out in Do-Re-Mi
2 Russians Put on the Ritz
1 Mobbed Marriage Proposal... and More
Some people might argue that when a huge media organization like Fox gets into the flash mob scene, it defeats the purpose of how the momentary assembly is supposed to demonstrate the power of ordinary citizens to organize themselves and take over a public space. But in truth, upon seeing the way that former Deal or No Deal host Howie Mandel and his team put together a wedding proposal -- and more -- via a flash mob, it's almost impossible not to marvel at the end result. The supposed one-time special was aired by Fox on March 31, 2011, but after the program was viewed by 10.8 million Americans, the network ordered more episodes and turned the show into a series. Thankfully, Nikki and Justin, the couple featured in Mobbed's pilot feature, have remained married. Their union has borne a son, Troy Davis.
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