Moonwalk Flashmob – Liverpool Street

28 06 2009

A flashmob descended upon Liverpool Street on Friday evening for a pre-arranged moonwalk, en masse. Organized through the usual social networking channels – most notably Twitter – the message was simple –

“Right. It’s on. There will be a mass moonwalk at 6pm tonight at Liverpool Street station.”

With no further information needed, I, along with a significant percentage of London’s social media savvy population, headed to the station.

Arriving with a few minutes to spare, it was enough time to suss out the best spot for documenting the event.
With a heavy police presence and an unusually high volume of ‘commuters’ (eagerly gripping their mobile phones) if you weren’t in on the plan – you definitely knew that something was different…

Tannoy messages began to address the crowd –
“If you have just arrived at the station for the Michael Jackson Moonwalk event scheduled for eighteen hundred hours, please make your way outside onto Liverpool Street outside the McDonalds where it will now be taking place.”

Confusion is placed in our minds –
“Is it a bluff?”

“Are they trying to disperse us?”

“Will it actually end up happening in here and then we’ll have gone outside and missed it?”

Argh!

Anyways. We headed for the escalator at 17:59 and 30 seconds, hoping to get a rising aerial shot of the concourse.

17:59 and 50 seconds– on the escalator – camera is on.

18:00 –
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
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Nothing.

Top of the escalators and it all seems to be happening outside…

What’s happening exactly though isn’t a moonwalk – it’s people with cameras waiting to take pictures of a moonwalk. Everywhere you turn is someone looking expectantly, holding a cameraphone aloft. If they haven’t got a camera phone, they’ve got a camera, if they haven’t got a camera they’re on the phone, if they’re not with either of those – they have a video camera, and not just a little handycam – huge broadcast quality Z1s et al.

After 20 minutes, of taking pictures of people taking pictures, i’m ready to leave when suddenly a speaker system bursts into life and a man begins to speak.

After he speaks, the Michael Jackson music begins.

And…

Nobody really does anything. People take photos of… people doing nothing.

Bizarre.

It reminded me of the recent Liverpool Street ‘riots’ where a media mob descended on just one person attempting to smash in a window. Desperate for something to film, with nothing really going on.

For me the most interesting thing is the lure of this event, not for people to be involved in the actual moonwalk, but to be involved just as an observer.

Is this the death of the Flashmob? Surely the point of them is to be unexpected? A brief, bizarre interlude, in the otherwise predictable routine of someone’s day. It all becomes a bit ‘pop will eat itself’ when it’s mass-marketed and pre-publicized to the gawkers. (and maybe even a little in bad taste when you consider the reason for the gathering was someone’s death?)

I like Flashmobs – but i think they need to go back underground, maybe even on the Underground again – a la the circle line party. [Click here for the Circle Line party flashmob video]

I honestly didn’t see anyone moonwalk on that Friday evening. But I did spot a very cute dog, so i guess it was worth it…

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