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The Making of a Flash Mob

The flash mob is a phenomenon of the YouTube age, an amusing moment in which people decide to do something very much random for no particular reason other than the fun of it; often the acts of these “mobs” are videotaped and end up online. The number of people involved can be anywhere from 50 to thousands, and the mob does anything from pillow fighting to freezing in place.

One of Swig Hall’s Resident Ministers, Sean Gross, began a program entitled Random Acts for this school year which encourages random acts of kindness (the next one planned involves delivering Valentine’s Day cards to people in a nursing home or hospital), but also simply random, fun acts in general. He holds weekly Hospitality Hours in Swig which have mostly involved watching the hit FOX musical-comedy Glee. One episode of the high school show revolved around the students planning and participating in a flash mob, and multiple people there collectively asked, “Wouldn’t it be fun to be a part of a flash mob?” But as many ideas go on a college campus, nothing more was made of it for a while.

As Gross developed the Random Acts program further, the idea of a flash mob popped back up. He had met senior Diana Bustos at a choreographer’s gallery and asked her over the winter break if she would be interested in choreographing a flash mob. She had already developed and taught one to students in SCCAP to the tune of Shakira’s “Waka Waka (This Time for Africa),” the theme song of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. 

Amazingly, the whole routine only took about 45 minutes to teach and learn. The plan was for the mob to dance to “Waka Waka” during peak lunch hours at the Benson Memorial Center. After clearing things with various groups to make sure the performance wouldn’t be interrupted, the group dispersed themselves in Benson at 12:10 p.m. on Friday, Jan, 14.

At 12:15, the siren call that opens “Waka Waka” went off, and the participants ran toward Mission Bakery. The choreography, which Gross called “Diana’s genius,” went off without a hitch and, after two-and-a-half minutes of rousing dancing, the flash mob bowed and went back to their normal routine. Though some dancers were nervous, they were reminded that this was all for fun, and the video, which is now posted on the Santa Clara Facebook page, shows proof of the fun they all clearly had.

Meanwhile, the captive Benson audience had a mixture of different reactions, as seen on the periphery of the video.  Some students barely looked up from their lunch, others were clearly entertained and enraptured, while a large group was just rather confused. Regardless of the reaction, though, the dance was generally well received by the crowd.

Swig 9th floor Community Facilitator Alexandria LeeNatali said that she “really loved doing the flash mob,” pointing out that it “brought some much needed excitement to the otherwise dull winter quarter.”

Both LeeNatali and Gross say they’d love to do it again, and Gross admitted that though nothing is officially planned, “it would be a lot of fun,” and the third Random Act has yet to be planned.

Gross believes “events like this help people to see that resident ministry is about a lot of things, like creating community and helping to make some great memories, along with helping out during the hard times.”

So if you’re walking across campus and see a large group of people doing something completely inexplicable, it may very well be another flash mob in action.

Watch a slideshow of the flash mob.

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