Press Mobs and Cop Mobs

July 31st, 2003

Florian Greb reports that yesterday, during Germany’s first flash mob in Berlin, “About 75 mobbers did some spontaneous gymnastics like jumping and appauding, turning around several times with arms spread. This was organized by a man with a rainbow-colored umbrella and watched by two to three dozen press people.” (Thanks to Florian for the photo; more “photos der flashmob-aktion” at

Photo courtesy of Florian Greb

Are we approaching a moment in time when sending out a last-minute flash mob announcement will trigger a mob consisting of more cameras and reporters than anything else? If so, that could be a lot of fun in itself. Take advantage of this, people; it won’t last.

Now the word “flash mob” seems to summon legions of police as well; check out Brad Searle’s cornucopia of cop photos from tonight’s Boston flash mob.

The Germans seem particularly taken by this whole thing. Judging from the list of groups rounded up at, there are already flash mob groups online for 21 different cities in Germany.

Today Swiss flash mobbers converged on the the main Zurich train station and, judging from the photos, they formed a large single-file line of people with hands linked, dividing the station.

Dubliners and Parisians are planning their own flash mobs. Londoners are still talking it over, but in London that’s been going on for weeks. Rome’s second flash mob is scheduled for tonight.

I haven’t detected any flash mob interest in Latin America or in Africa, and aside from Japan I haven’t heard much from Asia. A Shanghai newspaper reporter e-mailed me and said that interest in flash mobs is growing there. But the Chinese government must approve any large gatherings in advance; so much for that idea. It’s hard to imagine a flash mob bound in red tape.

I can no longer keep up with all the local flash mob groups in the U.S. They’re popping up everywhere. The next flash mob here in San Francisco is scheduled to take place Saturday August 9. As for the rest of the country, and mob(b)log seem to be tracking the groups pretty well. Howard Rheingold and company continue to provide decent roundups at

I’m working and moving to a new apartment this week, so I won’t even try to keep up with all of it. But I’ve yet to see a truly new flash mob idea, something that takes this to the next level. The world is hungry for photos and coverage of any compellingly original new flash mobs; please send them to sean[at], or post links below in the comments.


34 Responses to “Press Mobs and Cop Mobs”

  1. comment number 1 by: CaptainAhab

    The Boston mob was supposed to be tonight. Anybody have any info or pictures?

  2. comment number 2 by: bostonblogger


  3. comment number 3 by: Anonymous

    Idea for flash mob: The 30 second gift exchange. Everyone brings a small wrapped gift, and at the signal exchanges it with the strangers around them randomly for 30 seconds. Wishing each person a happy birthday/Kwanza/Xmas/whatever, then dispersing silently

  4. comment number 4 by: Another Boston Link

  5. comment number 5 by: Amelia

    I was at the Boston mob (or rather, the Harvard Square mob). It was fun, albeit a bit of a flashbulb circus. I didn’t personally take pictures, though. I’m sure many will surface.

  6. comment number 6 by: evan

    I was there. I wrote up a little summary.

  7. comment number 7 by: Claudia

    An account linked to some pictures….

  8. comment number 8 by: Fred

    New York City’s Mob#6 announced about an hour ago. See my site for details.


  9. comment number 9 by: cold steel heart

    How about a real “flash” where people take a strobe or camera and use it on the photographers… I think it would look very cool and convey what a flash mob is all about…

  10. comment number 10 by: Amsterdam Mobs

    Hi there

    next friday, august 8th, there will be the first Mob in The Netherlands in Amsterdam:


  11. comment number 11 by: chonny69

    I’m from Cuernavaca, in Mexico. I’ve yet to see a flash mob here or at least hear about one in Mexico City. Anyone know of any flash mob organizer emails?

  12. comment number 12 by: Moej0j0j0

    I like the gift exchange idea. And taking pictures of reporters. But they should also try to interview the reporters. Can you imagine that?

    Mobber: Excuse me, would you mind answering a few questions?

    Reporter: Well I was going to ask you a few questions.

    Mobber: Why would you want to ask me questions?

    Reporter: To find out why you’re doing this.

    Mobber: Why I’m asking you questions? I’m asking you questions to find out what YOU’RE doing.


    IDEA FOR A FLASH MOB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Meet at a park or empty city lot that needs some love. Pass out garbage bags and everyone scurry to collect as much garbage as possible for 5 minutes. Then pile it up so city workers can easily haul it away. Using a flash mob for a good thing. Show cops they have nothing to worry about.

    P.S. I was also contacted by the reporter from the Shanhai newspaper and he asked if he could uese parts of my write up from the first SF mob.

    Kewl! =)

  13. comment number 13 by: Coupdegenie

    Idea for the FLASH MOB!

    To organize a gathering on a very busy street on a Saturday afternoon.

    All must bring a back pack to recognize themselves and gather so as to become a small compact crowd, everyone (alone or in a group of 2 to 4 persons) will have a vital space of aproximately 10 feet.

    At a specific hour, all the participants will strip and collect their clothing in their back pack. Some can only wear a g-string.

    The fun part is to have a normal behavior to show that there is no difference between wearing clothes and being nude, and also without really paying attention to the looks of surprise of the people watching.

    All the participants will have to dress and disperse before that becomes an illegal demonstration.

    N.B. We live in Montreal and we think that the Quebecer are open minded enough for this action.

  14. comment number 14 by: prankstein jr.

    guys of rome are shit… all they want is their photo on newspaper…

  15. comment number 15 by: the pool of radiance

    son of MOB

    The invitation to MOB#6 has gone out. I sent it to a whole bunch of likely suspects. If I skipped you, drop me a line. This one is on August 7. Which suddenly makes me realize that I won’t be…

  16. comment number 16 by: meister_buran

    More Information for german users under or the Weblog

    We will rock Germany!

  17. comment number 17 by: marc brown's

    smart mobs in a flash

    An article today in the NY Times (the online cover photo) on Flash Mobs gathering in Germany, with some mentions of the flash mobs around the globe. Looks like cheesebikini and are covering the trend pretty thoroughly. (found the…

  18. comment number 18 by: Tiffany

    hey, i live in austin, tx. anyone know of anything going on around here? or lets just get something together.

  19. comment number 19 by: thecheat


    nice idea!

    you could also instruct people to come with at least one other person (or for those of us that don’t have friends willing to strip, encourage people to wear clothes they don’t mind…losing?). then at the designated time, everyone could start stripping and switch clothes.


  20. comment number 20 by: Amandy

    North Attleboro,Ma: flash mob


    every1 meets down town and brings a candle while singing jingle bells twice while smelling their own arm pits!!!!


  21. comment number 21 by: Knuckles

    I like the nude flash mob idea. I will be sure to bring my camera!

  22. comment number 22 by: Anonymous

    I like the “flash mob for good” idea with the garbage pickup at the park. A similar idea would be to show up en masse at a shelter or food pantry bearing canned goods, etc. Pantries usually run very low items this time of year (late summer).

  23. comment number 23 by: crux

    Flash Mob in St.Gallen, Switzerland: august 20th.


  24. comment number 24 by: Upenn

    There will be a flash mob near Penn’s campus in early September. To sign up or for more information e-mail

  25. comment number 25 by: MJM

    Idea for a Flash Mob

    “Are we approaching a moment in time when sending out a last-minute flash mob announcement will trigger a mob consisting of more cameras and reporters than anything else?”

    This, in itself, is a wonderful idea for a flash mob. I see at least two options off the top of my head:

    1) Let word spread in a major metropolitan area of a huge flash mob event. Select something and somewhere guaranteed to draw members of the press pool. Have the mobbers mob with cameras, video cameras, pen and paper, etc. and proceed to photograph, film, and interview the media. Disperse after, say, 15 minutes.

    2) Or let word spread in a major metropolitan area of a huge flash mob event. Select something and somewhere guaranteed to draw members of the press pool. Rather than actually have a flock meet, simply have the organizer(s) present. When the press inquires about the flock the organizer should simply respond, “You guys are it,” and then abruptly turn and walk away.

    The same sort of stunts could be pulled with police, but that would probably get the organizer arrested.

  26. comment number 26 by: CyBeR

    “How about a real “flash” where people take a strobe or camera and use it on the photographers… I think it would look very cool and convey what a flash mob is all about…”

    Something similar happened at the Amsterdam Flashmob. We didn’t point cameras at the reporters, however. I’ve written up something, with links to pictures, at my site. Just click my name 😉

  27. comment number 27 by: Yume

    to reply the comment about the lack of interest for Flash Mobbing in Africa.

    last night’s 19:30 news in South Africa featured a coverage on the flash mob in a toys ‘R’ Us store in America (Manhatten i think?)

    I’m interested in organising THE FIRST flash mob in South Africa. IS ANYONE INTERESTED???

  28. comment number 28 by: Jeff

    You know what would be a really great flashmob event? Like everyone go someplace and just hang out and look busy and then someone starts like singing and the whole city breaks into song and dance like in the movies. Especially if the dances were like coreogrtaphed. That would be hilarious. Like The “Monorail” song from the simpsons! Or Austin Powers.

  29. comment number 29 by: Fabricio

    Haven’t you heard about flash mob in Latin America yet?? There was one this morning in Sao Paulo – Brazil (,,OI131757-EI1141,00.html – in portuguese).

    Almost 100 people crossed the most famous avenue in Sao Paulo without their shoes and, while the traffic light was red, hit their shoes on the avenue…

  30. comment number 30 by: Anonymous

    Being a member of the press for many years, I can tell you that you we are the OG the original ganstas.

  31. comment number 31 by: Meg

    Other Ideas:

    Chicken Dance FlashMob: Everyone sings “I don’t want to be a chicken, i don’t want to be a duck, so i shake my butt!” and does the chicken dance twice over, then disperses.

    I love the ideas for the mob acting as the press, the dancing ideas, and i especially loved the Glasgow flashmob, which truly WAS spontaneous.

  32. comment number 32 by: Joan

    Love the press flash mob ideas! It could pare down the numbers of mobbers, however, as there might not be as many people willing to tote along their expensive electronics to a rowdy crowd gathering. The food shelter idea is great too… I can just picture a flash mob setting down their canned goods at the same moment, then leaving a sea of cans.

    My flash mob was idea was not nearly as clever or humanitarian, but just amusing for it’s sheer randomness. A flash mob would gather at any location and just moo loudly for however long. If so desired, I suppose it could be used to make social statements (i.e. a mass entrance/exit into/from a Starbucks), but that would take away the wonderful randomness of it all 😛

  33. comment number 33 by: The Blog From Another Dimension


    On July 16th, on Market Street in San Francisco, a few hundred people swarmed to a busy downtown crosswalk, and commenced walking back and forth across it, spinning around and waving their arms in the air. On July 24th, between 100 to 300 people gather…

  34. comment number 34 by: ec53

    an other german-fm-link:

    it`s a cool fm-community