Well, tonight was the first Manchester Flashmob. I’m not going to write a full report because doubtless there’ll be one on the aforementioned website before long, but I’ll just jot down a few thoughts before I go to bed.

The event was intended to take place in the Filmworks – we were supposed to gather there, open our umbrellas, bob up and down and cheer periodically for about five minutes and then leave, no harm done. Unfortunately, someone (the media are currently blamed) had alerted the Filmworks and when we arrived the barriers were down and the security were out in force. Attempts were made to move the mob to Norweigan Blue instead, but we were thrown out of there as well, and ended up congregating in the centre of the Printworks. This worked fairly well, and several hundred people jumped up and down with umbrellas opened, cheered for a few minutes and then left. The media attempted to interview people as they left and were mostly left with the perplexing reason that “we’d come to see the rain man”.

During the event, I felt quite strange. I was cheering, jumping up and down and holding an umbrella, with several hundred other people, but the thing was, none of us were quite clear on why – there was a big, jubilant party atmosphere for no reason at all. Also, we all felt aggrieved that the Filmworks and Norweigan Blue wouldn’t let us in – but equally, none of us could have told you, if pressed, why they should have let us in. At some level, I guess you could burble on about repression of free speech and that, but the thing is, the whole Flashmob principle is so completely absurd that analysing it in those sort of terms is a pointless – it was never meant to be anything more than harmless fun and to talk about it in terms of more than that is daft.

What is clear is that Flashmobs are a strictly short-term phenomenon. As the media latch on to it, and the organisation becomes trickier (how do you attract enough people without attracting the “wrong” people?) they are inevitably going to “work” less well – as tonight showed; the media had caught on before the mob was due to take place and this had disrupted the apparent spontenaity of the event. The Filmworks closing their doors is understandable (the potential for something like this being hijacked for political/religious/terrorist/whatever reasons is obviously not insignificant), if disappointing, and it is probably to be expected that these sort of countermeasures will be commonplace for future mobs. A further Manchester mob is being planned, as are several more around the country, but I can’t see it lasting much longer.

But that said, we made North West Tonight and we all had a good time. Which is the main thing. Even if I did get accused of being in a cult.

(I didn’t even say “brolly good time” there, either. Oh, bugger…)

2 Responses to “flashmob”

  1. Lori says:

    I looked for you on the telly footage and in the MEN, but didn’t see you. Just lots of umbrellas.

  2. Chris says:

    Apparently there’s a double page on it in the Express today, and we made the national lunchtime news, too. In at least one of them you can see Kat, whom I was stood next to.