Art Works Blog

First Person: Victoria and the DC (Flash) Mob

Washington, DC


"Bollywood, here I come!" The Fiesta Asia flash mob was one of several that took place in the Washington, DC metro area in April and May as part of Dance/Metro DC's spring festival. Photo by Rob Klein

I learned about the May 23 Fiesta Asia flash mob from a colleague at the NEA and knew immediately that this was something I wanted to experience. This was the first time I was participating in one of these seemingly spontaneous but well-organized public dance events that have erupted all over the world in the last few years.

Over e-mail, I was given the date, time, and place for our performance along with a website where I found an instructional video of a dancer leading a small group of ?mobsters? in a Bollywood-inspired routine; once straight through and a second time breaking down each section into its components of leg, arm, feet, head, and hand movements. We were also told to wear orange and yellow to the event so that we might identify our fellow ?mobsters.?

A few days later, I attended a rehearsal with about 50 others. Wuiping Yap---executive director of the Asian Heritage Foundation and director of Fiesta Asia---led us through each of the sections. Soon the studio filled with sweating, panting, and embarrassed laughter. I estimated the age range to be 15 to 65, with the spectrum of dance expertise ranging from professional to ?I just like to move to music.?

On the day of the festival, when I reached the designated spot in front of one of the stages, there were already many other dancers there in their orange and yellow outfits. At first, I didn?t recognize anyone from the rehearsal so I wandered through the crowd making eye contact with those who I thought might be there to dance. We quietly asked each other some variation of ?Are you doing the flash mob??

Eventually, members of Dhoony Dance took to the stage, performing a lively dance that got us all pumped up. Then suddenly I heard the pulsing bass of our introductory music and scrambled to claim a spot amid the sea of orange and yellow. We were packed so tightly together that some of the arm gestures came close to being injurious of the person nearby---but no one seemed to care.
As the sweat flowed freely, so did the esprit de corps, which grew stronger and stronger and became a palpable high of joyous dancing. After we struck the final pose, the crowd roared. A woman close by exploded into a gale of giggles. Hoots and hollers shot into the air like mini-geysers.

And then it was over. Just like that. But as I wandered through the rest of the festival, stopping for lemonade and stir fry, I met other mobsters and we shared our excitement of having done something very cool together.

?So,? I wondered, ?when?s the next one??

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