Is there anything fun or pleasant about being at the airport? Well, sometimes, for some very fortunate travellers, a spontaneous display of entertainment erupts. If you see a spectacle of coordinated, performance-quality singing and dancing unfold around you in any public place, including airports and train stations, stop and appreciate the spectacle. Don’t blink, for this is something special. You are in the midst of a flash mob.
What exactly is a flash mob? It’s a 21st-century fusion of performing arts, Internet culture and widespread fun. A group secretly choreographs a song-and-dance routine to perform without warning in a public place and to the total surprise and delight of a crowd of random bystanders. At the end, the performers disperse back into the crowd without leaving a trace, as if the whole thing were a fantastic dream.
The term ‘flash mob’ was first used in 2003, when some of the first flash mobs were organised. Since then, hundreds of have been staged all over the world. One example that has reached the highest levels of fame is the Sound of Music flash mob in the Central Station of Antwerp (Belgium).
In their purest form, flash mobs are created for the sake of dance, culture and fun. In recent years, however, communications and advertising strategists have caught on to their appeal and commercially produced flash mobs for their ‘viral video’ potential.
Whatever the reason for their existence, flash mobs in airports have helped thousands beat the boredom of long delays and layovers. Here is a roundup of our favourite airport flash mobs.
Edmonton, Canada: Unite for More Flights Flash Mob
The video for this flash mob was posted on May 26, 2011. It’s part of a publicity campaign on behalf of Edmonton International Airport (EIA) in Canada. The airport’s ‘Unite For More Flights’ effort aims to attract more flights to its destination. Strategically, the video is linked to EIA’s Facebook page, where fans can enter to win iPods and iPads.
The flash mob video comes across as commercial, especially when the dancers break out the signs around minute 3:14. Even so, the dancers capture the spirit of fun, breezing with huge smiles and flawless precision through their routine. Especially impressive are the breakdancing runway men. All and all, this video and the surrounding campaign score big points for creativity in destination promotion.
Singapore: Million Dollar Flash Mob in Changi Airport
Like the Edmonton flash mob, this production was also part of an advertising campaign. Singapore’s Changi Airport turned heads last year with its “shop at Changi airport for your chance to win a million dollars” contest.
The performance begins with a little skit. A girl has ‘won’ the million-dollar prize and the dancing is a celebration that she ignites. The music montage even has a get-rich theme to it, but the best part of this video is the way the dance mob grows and grows – what starts out as a few dancers in the beginning expands to a cast of hundreds. Well done, Changi Airport!
Portugal: Lisbon Airport and TAP Celebrate Christmas Flash Mob Style
The Lisbon Airport flash mob was produced, also a commercial production for the high traffic of the Christmas season, on December 23, 2009. The sponsors were the Lisbon Airport and TAP, the national airline of Portugal.
The video gets off to a slow (and very Christmas-y) start, but by 1:39 it warms up to a funkier beat. From there, the music montage delves into doo-wop, samba, disco, rock and even Bollywood beats before circling back around to Christmas cheer at the very end.
Lebanon: Beirut Duty-Free Rocks Airport with Dabke Dance
The funding behind the Beirut Airport flash mob, which took place in March 2011, came from Beirut Duty-Free. Its ‘Take More Back’ advertising campaign encourages travellers to spend more money in the Beirut Airport. Shopping, however, is the last thing on the minds of the lucky onlookers as the performers make everyone in the terminal want to drop everything and dance!
This amazing flash mob scores big for the fusion of dabke (traditional Lebanese dance) with hip-hop. Bravo, Beirut Duty-Free! The travellers who witnessed this incredible event will take back a once-in-a-lifetime memory of Lebanon.
Heathrow, UK: The T-Mobile Welcome Back
Weighing in as the the most virally popular of all airport flash mobs, the T-Mobile Welcome Back has hit almost 9 million views. With such a giant corporate sponsor, it is no wonder that only the most top-notch talent is on display.
Unlike the other airport flash mobs, live singing is more central to the performance than choreography. Astoundingly, no instruments were used in the film’s making. Vocals range from beat boxing to a human violin to a bass singer solo at 1:23. The musical montage is themed with songs about travel and coming home. Even better than the incredible musical skill are the expressions of complete delight on the spectators’ faces. T-Mobile wins 1st place in our airport flash mob line-up. Worth sharing!