Wednesday, April 9, 2008
The not-so-new (but still awesome) “flash mob” fad surfaces in Dallas
Flash mobs have surfaced in DFW, bringing randomness to every day existence.
I'm sure everyone has read our musings about the flash mob group that has recently surfaced in Dallas. (And when I say "our" musings, clearly I mean Mike's musings). A flash mob is when a big group of people assemble in a public place and do something completely random for a few minutes and then disperse. One of the more popular examples is from the group in New York (called Improv Everywhere). They all went to Grand Central Station and froze for a few minutes, then dispersed. Flash mobs have become quite the fad all around the world. (Yes, I could link to cool flash mob "missions," as they call them, all day long.)
After a little research, I found two flash mob groups in Dallas in their early stages of development. Flash Mob DFW (run by Keven White) and the Civil Confusion Agency (CCA), run by Joe Brady, aka "Joe the Pirate." The groups are considering combining forces in the near future to increase participation and because, well, does Dallas really need two flash mob groups? I sat down with Joe the Pirate for a little Q and A, and corresponded via email with Keven White for more details on the Dallas scene, and what we can expect in their future endeavors.
What the heck is Stumble?
On a side note, I got a little curious as to what exactly this "stumble" add on was that Joe was talking about, so after a quick google search and a few clicks I became the proud new owner of my very own stumble toolbar. Basically, you download the add on, click a few categories that interest you, and then every time you hit the stumble button you are magically taken to a random website that fits your interests. You then give that site a thumbs up or thumbs down (depending on how much you like it) and Stumble tracks your interests. The more you use it, the more you "stumble" upon random websites you like. (Sounds slightly familiar, eh?) This is definitely the coolest distraction tool out there, and it's completely free. In fact, this very story would have been posted 2 hours earlier if curiosity didn't get the best of me. The Stumble! button is mildly addictive, so don't say I didn't warn you.
Pegasus News: What originally got you interested in starting a flash mob?
Joe the Pirate: On Mozilla Firefox there is an add on called Stumble, and you push a button and it takes you to a random website. That's how I came across Improv Everywhere which is the name of the New York group and I came across it and became very interested in it. The website on ning is like a social networking group, you know if you're on facebook or myspace and all that. They just made that to help people get organized so they could run a flash mob in their own areas. That's how it started.
Keven White: I first started when I read about New York's Improv Everywhere and was fascinated by how completely random and beautiful the concept was. Before I knew it I was helping organize them around my school.
PN: How long have you been involved?
JtP: I started this in January, at the end of January so not very long.
KW: I've been involved for about a year now.
PN: What is the purpose of a flash mob mission?
JtP: It really depends. Roberto, the main guy that helps me, he really wants to do missions that make people think about certain things in society. Like the banana phone mission was supposed to be some sort of expression towards the craziness of people on cell phones all the time and everything. For me, I just think it's fun you know, something to do.
KW: It really varies from person to person. Some see it as a political statement, others as a finger to the police. I see it as something fun, especially for those who are too old to really be seen doing these things in normal society. It's a nice escape from the harsh reality we live in.
PN:How many missions have you done?
Dallas Flash Mob - Banana Phone
JtP:Two right now and we just did the banana phone mission which was our second one.
KW: I've participated in three so far and have organized one.
PN: Are there any general guidelines when planning a mission that you go by?
JtP: Well being a flash mob, it's gotta have two aspects: flash, which is, you know, it's gotta be random, it's supposed to happen suddenly. And then of course it's gotta be like a group thing, it can't be one person doing something random or it's not gonna be a mob. Other than that there's not really too much. I mean there's certain things we have to think about when doing it like, our next mission is probably going to be a pillow fight mission and we won't be able to do that in a mall or a store b/c of damaged property and stuff.
KW:The only real rules I'd say to abide by are don't hurt anyone and if a cop or security officer or store manager asks you to leave, do it. You don't need to get arrested over a stunt.
PN:Have you had anybody freak out so far? I guess you are new, but have you ever had the cops called to your knowledge?
JtP:Cops called? Not to our knowledge. I know on the dance mission we were getting a lot of attention from security. I was told by somebody that they called security or cops after we left, but we haven't gotten in trouble yet. I don't think we will, most of the things we do I don't see how any of them could be illegal. Just makin' a scene, nothing else.
KW: Fortunately most people have reacted favorably. We've had some that stare us down or ignore us, but the rest appreciate the joke and some even get into it.
PN:What about the future of the group? Are you trying to get it to grow?
JtP: I am most definitely getting it to grow. The more publicity we get the more members we have and it's really fun, it's the next big thing. In London and the UK this thing is huge. Flash mobbing is really big, almost every city has their own group already. He [Keven] created the Facebook group and no activity really went on for it for a really long time and then I made my group and he was busy with college and stuff so it's understandable. Seeing as how I have all the free time hopefully we'll be able to collaborate some more.
KW:I think the CCA is doing a great job so far and I'm pretty sure he would be more dedicated to it than I. That's not to say I won't be conducting any or participating either, but with film and college and all it's hard to get around to it.
PN: What's your favorite mission?
JtP:The first one I found which was the Best Buy mission done by the Improv Everywhere people up in New York. They got about, I think it was 80 people all dressed up like they worked at Best Buy. I mean minus the name tags they all pretty much looked like it. They wore blue shirts and khaki pants.
Home Depot Flash Mob
KW:Well besides my own? Haha. I'd have to say the "slow-mo and freeze" stunt in a Home Depot. A group of about 30 people shopped normally for about five minutes, shopped in slow motion and then the last five completely still.
PN:Do you have anything else to say about the flash mobs in general?
JtP: Yeah, the Improv Everywhere actually is the name of the group in New York and they specifically state on their website that they don't want us to use their name so that's why we're called Civil Confusion Agency. They don't like it when we refer to ourselves as Improv Everywhere. That's an important thing is not to get the groups confused. We're all our own group in our own city doing our own thing. It might be good for some publicity and stuff, but if we do something wrong we don't want the rest of the groups to look bad because of us.
PN: What do you prefer Chipotle or Freebirds?
JtP: Freebirds most definitely. I used to love Chipotle and now I've discovered Freebirds and I thought “This is amazing.”
KW: Oh, Chipotle for sure. Quality over quantity in my book.
PN: Who would you put your money on if Hillary and Obama went head to head in a celebrity death match?
JtP: Being a woman probably has it's disadvantages. I'm not saying she's weaker because she's a woman. I would honestly go with him just because he's a guy. I mean there could be a lot of things that could change it but seeing as how I don't know any of them, Obama would probably win.
KW: Oh, Obama for sure. He's in pretty good shape, plus the fact that Hillary doesn't have NRA's support could be her downfall.