Your humble correspondent dances disco-style at the beginning of the Love Mob (photo from the Facebook group)
I do like fun. And as long as an event has that as its primary goal, I’m all for it. Even if it’s a tired formula like a choreographed dance or a lip dub.
On Sunday, I played hookey from PodCamp to participate in an event called “Love Mob Montreal“. Not crazy about the name, but maybe that’s just because I’m not in touch with my emotional side. As I mentioned in the previous post, it was an MP3 experiment that made sense to everyone with headphones but no sense to all the bystanders without.
The idea is that all the participants download an MP3 audio file to their iPod or other portable media player. They gather in a common place, and at a specified time they all press play simultaneously. The audio file contains instructions for what the participants should do. Since bystanders can’t hear the audio, the experiment gives a sort of surreal image of a bunch of people doing crazy things in unison.
Unfortunately, that puts it squarely in conflict with the Day 2 afternoon sessions of PodCamp Montreal. At first I figured the events would be related because they were on the same weekend and I had heard about the Love Mob from someone involved with both. But that’s not the case, and I’ll have to ditch at least two PodCamp seminars in order to participate.
The MP3 files themselves have just been put online: English, French (UPDATE: Links fixed, sorry). Participants are asked not to listen to them before the event. Instead, remember to bring a watch or other timing device that’s accurate to the second, a media player with the MP3 loaded, and a white, red or pink T-shirt, and be at Place des Arts for 3:15pm.
Facebook has over 400 people “confirmed”, which means about 40-50 will actually show up, give or take 200.
I biked to Parc le Pélican last night to see l’Autre St-Jean (yeah, that l’Autre St-Jean). I got there after the anglo acts, but early enough to take some pictures of the party and hear some songs from Malajube before I left.
Rule No. 1 about outdoor pillow fights: don’t hold them in the rain.
Rule No. 2: There are ways around Rule No. 1.
Despite the annoying showers, the planned Montreal event on World Pillow Fight Day took place as scheduled, with about 30 participants whacking each other over the head with bags of foam (feathered pillows were banned as they create a mess) for about half an hour.
Much of the success came from the quick-thinking of organizers Robin Friedman and Jody McIntyre (the same people behind metro parties, bubble battles and pretty much everything else fun in the city over the past couple of years). They brought along clear plastic bags for people to put their pillows in so they wouldn’t get wet.
After following various events that have been referred to as flash mobs in the media, it’s hard not to concur, if only because the term has been used to define almost any public gathering of strangers organized online.
Most events of this nature can be split into one of two groups:
the Improv Everywhere-style stunts in which people who may or may not know each other get together and pull a prank on unsuspecting bystanders in a public place
A PR stunt for cancer prevention, which I’m all for and everything, but a PR stunt nonetheless.
What bugs me most is that this was organized through a “flash mob” Facebook group which was taken over by a marketing company without its members’ permission. I suppose it’s not the end of the world. People can just remove themselves from the group if they don’t like it. And who’s going to oppose a public event for cancer awareness?
But it’s an example of grassroots fun being usurped by corporate interests. Instead of “flash mobs”, they’re now “street marketing” events. Yesterday, it was a yellow-scarfed song for cancer research. Will the next one be shilling for Doritos? Will commuters have to live in fear every day they go to work because they might be forced into some ill-conceived marketing stunt in which they’ve been made the sucker?
I’m not an art critic. Or an art lover. Or really an art anything. So when I look through the guide to the Nuit Blanche, I glaze over all the art galleries, dance performances, films, plays, DJs or anything else of the sort. Instead, I concern myself with fun things in the Old Port or anything that’s funny.
But something about this “Art Souterrain” project caused me to want to go there. It was free, it was in a heated environment, and you could walk through it all without waiting in lines, checking your coats or feeling guilty about leaving early. You could spend about 10 seconds at one installation and then move on to the next one. And that’s pretty much what I did.