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Flash mobs, we need you now more than ever

Do you remember flash mobs? They were that cultural phenomenon when strangers used to get …


Do you remember flash mobs? They were that cultural phenomenon when strangers used to get together in a park or shopping mall, perform a choreographed performance, and then vanish as quickly as they came. It seems like a long time ago, but if you’re a millennial, that’s probably what you thought of when you thought of the word “mob.”

Now, we live in a time when “mob” means protests, people lying down in the street, people getting tear-gassed, crowds threatening senators, and police altercations.

But think back. In 2005, hundreds of people got together in Toronto for a pillow fight flash mob. In 2018, this London flash mob wedding proposal went viral, with 24 million views. In Germany, a thousand musicians got together in a German shopping mall to play classical music to surprise shoppers. The 2011 movie “Friends with Benefits” included a scene with a Times Square flash mob.

flash mobs
The U.S. Air Force Band used to get in on the flash mob fun, like this time the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. (U.S. Air Force photo by Jim Varhegyi)

Those seem like long-gone innocent times when we’re dealing with shuttered storefronts, divisive political rallies, and the general chaos of 2020. I’m sad to think that these are the things my kids will remember. James Corden recreates this kind of joy in his Crosswalk Musicals, but it’s been almost a year since he did his last one.

James, we need a Crosswalk Musical. We’re missing a sense of joy in this country. Instead, we’ve been bogged down by medical issues, social issues, and political issues. When COVID-19 first entered the public consciousness, people got together in their yards to cheer on medical workers as they left for work; they sang songs out their windows during quarantine; they hung giant signs of encouragement on buildings. But as the year went on, those things seemed to slow to a sad stop.

I’m not saying we should get hundreds of strangers together on the street to perform a scene out of “Footloose” in the middle of a pandemic. But I do think we need to remember the wonder of the unexpected, the joy of doing something for other people, and how fun it is to dance.

If you’re reading this, and you’re a service member or a military spouse, I challenge you to bring a little joy back to this country. Get your unit or your spouse’s club together outside, make a music video and post it to social media. Show the people that some of us are still dancing.

Feature image from US Embassy Kathmandu via Flickr

The editorial team at Sandboxx.