How sweet is that?! Trang and Nam’s flash mob marriage proposal video got more than a million views on YouTube in one week and is one of the most-watched flash mob videos ever.
I had the opportunity to chat with co-founders of Flash Mob America, Staci Lawrence and Conroe Brooks about the company’s instant success and their thoughts on why people are so enthralled by dance and the element of surprise.
The two started the company in November, 2009 and since then, their flash mobs have hit the streets all over the U.S. and have even inspired flash mobs around the world. Flash Mob America’s flash mobs have also been featured on the hilarious TV sitcom, Modern Family, as well as the hit reality series, The Bachelorette.
So, without further adieu, here’s what they had to say…
What inspired you to start Flash Mob America?
Our inspiration was Michael Jackson, actually.
C: When he passed away, Staci and I decided to put together a tribute just for fun to celebrate him so we did a “Beat It” flash mob over at Hollywood and Highland, and it ended up getting a ton of press. The next thing we knew Janet Jackson’s record label contacted us to do one for Janet Jackson, so we got all our fans together and Janet Jackson showed up and we haven’t stopped working since.
Did you ever think it would become this popular so fast?
C & S: Not at all.
C: It was extremely fast! After we did the first one, Staci and I were just on a huge high from it…and we really thought that was going to be it. But the people that did the flash mob were like, “When’s the next one?” It was definitely surprising.
When and why did you introduce marriage proposal and wedding flash mobs?
S: They really came to us. The first was a college kid from Texas…they were going to be in New York and he wanted to propose to her there. And I remember thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, how are we going to do this for a college kid?’ because at that point we were doing them for corporations and agencies, and we were doing them on such a large scale. But everybody just really pulled together in New York, all of our New Yorkers just really came together and volunteered their time.
We had her going to Central Park and she had always wanted to see a flash mob, so not only did she get to travel to New York on vacation, she witnessed a flash mob too. And then at the end, he grabs her hand and leads her to the center and she realizes the whole thing was for her, it was very moving.
Once we did that one, the requests really started rolling in.
Who is involved in planning a marriage proposal flash mob?
S: Every flash mob we do has a staff of about a dozen or so people, and that includes the choreographer, dance teachers, the camera crew, editor, a producer that does the pre-production and then administrative staff on site, producers on site, the DJ and the lead dancers. So every flash mob has a pretty big group of people that are putting it together.
How long does it take?
S: We really need at least 30 days.
How many people are typically in a mob?
C: That really depends, but I’d say we average around 100 people. Our biggest flash mob was 1,084 and that was a “good deed” flash mob.
How do you get people to join the mobs?
S: A lot of people follow us online…and every time we’re on TV we get an influx of subscribers. The majority of people that sign up are waiting for us to come to their city. Fortunately, we’ve never had to go out and look for anybody.
I notice that your flash mobs are made up of everyone from children to even elderly people. Is it your goal to get everyone involved?
S: Oh, absolutely. Our whole mission besides joy through surprise is to make the world a smaller place and bring people together.
How long does it take flashmobbers to learn a dance?
S: We give them an instructional video so they can learn at home and we try to give them at least a week or two with that video. But we’ve noticed that most people really like to learn it in person…so they’re really only given about two hours (at the rehearsal) to actually learn the dance.
Have you ever gotten an outrageous request that was just totally out there?
C: We had a guy that wanted to use a flash mob to win his girl back, so that was a little scary.
S: We’ve also gotten “My girlfriend just broke up with me and she won’t speak to me so I want to do a flash mob and then ask her to marry me”.
Have you ever done anything other than a dancing flash mob?
C: We’ve done singing flash mobs before but the dancing flash mobs are definitely the most popular.
Flash mobs are obviously a very public event, why do you think they’re more popular than, say, proposing on a jumbo tron at a sporting event?
They really are a huge expression of love and celebration of the other person.
S: It’s less about the stunt of ‘look, I’m going to show all these people how much I love you and I’m going to propose to you in front of all these people’ and more about ‘I got all these people together to celebrate you and I want to show you how much I love you in that way’.
C: And a lot of the time, the girl has said “It’s my dream to witness a flash mob or to be in one” or they just love flash mobs. They’re giving them their dream and then proposing.
Do you have a favorite video?
S: The moment everyone comes together and the one big move when everyone is finally in the dance and they’re all moving in unison and they’re cheering, I get choked up every single time. I think it’s the moment in the video when the recipient of the flash mob realizes it’s for them and then it cuts back to the scope of how big the event really is, that’s when it really hits me.
C: I don’t (have a favorite) but I’ve watched the Pete and Siobhan one that we did in Central Park several times and every time she starts laughing and freaking out it moves me, I get teary eyed.
S: Also, the other British couple flash mob in New York we did that week, it was unique because we had strangers hand her roses. More and more strangers would hand her roses until she had 200 roses in her arms and on the ground, and people started singing “Marry You” by Bruno Mars. We had changed the song to have her name in it…Then that moment where she’s walking in and the amplified music goes “Hey, Reme…” and it’s like ‘Oh, it just said her name!’ and you just want to be there in that moment with her, that’s a really moving moment too.
To request your very own flash mob or to see when the next flash mob will be coming to your area, simply contact Flash Mob America on their website or by email, Twitter or on Facebook.
All videos courtesy of Flash Mob America.
Written by: Allison