What Is a Flash Mob Dance?

by Shannon Lee
A flash mob dance can happen anytime, anywhere.

A flash mob dance can happen anytime, anywhere.

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Anyone who has ever seen a flash mob dance understands the excitement that fills the air the moment the first dancer begins. Sometimes, however entertaining the spectacle may be, onlookers are left wondering what is going on. Although it may seem like flash mob dances are random, they are actually organized events that require much planning.


Although there are many variations on the flash mob dance, a few key criteria are common to all types. First, flash mob dances take place in a public place where there are many people not participating in the dance. Second, every flash mob starts off with one person dancing, with other dancers gradually joining in. Third, when the flash mob dance is over, participants immediately disperse, acting like nothing out of the ordinary has taken place.


Before flash mob dances existed, flash mobs of other kinds, involving various random acts, existed. The first reported flash mob took place in a New York City store in 2003, where hundreds gathered pretending to purchase a rug. There have also been flash mobs in which massive pillow fights or water gun fights have been organized. The flash mob originally gained popularity as increased presence of social media in everyday life became apparent.


Historically, flash mobs were organized via social media networks, texting and email. However, flash mob dances require more organization. The organization of a flash mob dance begins by gathering willing participants to a central location and teaching a basic dance. Then, it is decided who will start the flash mob dance and what order others will follow in. Lastly, a time and place for the flash mob is set but is kept top secret until the event itself.

Famous Flash Mob Dances

Perhaps the most famous flash mob dance was the one that took place on the Oprah Winfrey Show in 2009 during a performance by the Black Eyed Peas of their song "I Gotta Feeling." It is reported that over 20,000 people participated in the televised flash mob dance and that it was organized by Oprah producers but kept a secret from Oprah herself. Other famous flash mob dances have included Montreal's "Thriller" flash mob in 2008 and New York's "Jai Ho" flash mob in 2009.

About the Author

Shannon Lee began her professional journalism career in 2009. Her reporting has appeared in "The Hudson Gazette" and her editing work in the "Redwood County Newspaper." Lee is also a professional dancer and owns one of the largest dance studios in her region. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts with a double-major in communication studies and journalism.

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