Arts and Culture

Black Friday Dance Party exemplifies what flash mobs are all about

Every once in a while, crowded train stations have been known to break into song and dance and then disperse as if nothing happened. Large groups of people freeze for a period of time and then continue walking with onlookers amazed. Choreographed ninja fights happen out of the blue for a matter of seconds and then subside. Ringtone symphonies are conducted over the Internet. This is the flash mob, and it is a wonderful thing.

It's also a wonderful thing not possible without the use of modern technology like cell phones and the Internet. And whenever a wonderful thing manifests itself into our wonderful world, the advertising industry is never far behind, lurking in the dark, waiting for the right time to appropriate said awesome thing and call it their own as if they invented it.

Such is the case with flash mobs. After the first few amazing flash mob videos hit the internetz, companies caught on and found ways to associate this new, pure, wonderful cultural phenomenon with their stupid product. T-mobile has made flash mob commercials showing their cell phone service as imperative to the success of any good flash mob, which to be fair is in some ways true. To coordinate a seemingly random rendition of The Sound of Music in a train station does require wireless communication. But come on, can't we have anything that isn't raped by badvertising?

Coca-cola did an OK but not great thing that was flash-mob-esque in the video below. The commercial posits that people love Coke so damn much that they would go to all this trouble to do this thing. See the video, which just, no one likes Coke that much. Let's be honest.

Commercially-backed flash mobs are lame because they negate what makes a flash mob cool in the first place: community organizing and having fun for the sake of having fun, not for the sake of selling anything. There is, however, a flash mob happening today at Cherry Creek North from noon to 12:30 p.m. in front of the Apple Store -- in a hilariously ironic twist, in honor of Black Friday, the most epic and ridiculous shopping day of the year, where the connotations of the word 'black' are stretched to their opposite extremes. Black in a good way because companies often cite the day as the single most important day of the year in taking their spread sheets from red to black. Also black because the rampant, hysterical consumerism is just a little disgusting and sinister.

The Black Friday Silent Dance Party flash mob is about neither of those things.

As long as you're flash-mobbing for non-commercial reasons, today is also National Buy Nothing Day, which takes the opposite approach to Black Friday as a way of protest. I recommend buying nothing today and going to a store and maybe just busting a few moves for the people there. That is, if you can muster the willpower to deny the year's more amazing sale ever on electronics, clothes and more.

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Ben Dayton
Contact: Ben Dayton