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Flash Mob 101: When is a Flash Mob Just a Riot?

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On Saturday, rapper Machine Gun Kelly started what is being referred to as a flash mob in an Ohio mall with a handful of cohorts but no dancing, which we were under the assumption was a necessary component of a flash mob. Maybe not? And then we remembered the Moncler fashion show in February, which was flash mobbily presented in Grand Central Terminal. Though it included dancing and was called a flash mob by just about everyone, according to the company who staged the whole thing, it wasn't.

So what gives? Merriam-Webster defines a flash mob as "a group of people summoned (as by e-mail or text message) to a designated location at a specified time to perform an indicated action before dispersing," and we'd like to assume that nine times out of ten this includes a choreographed dance routine. Actually, make that ten times out of ten. Except there's also criminal flash mobs, which seem to be an increasing problem in Philadelphia. So now, on this particularly slow newsday, we take a look a three so-called flash mobs to find out which one is the most legit.

1. Definitely not a flash mob: Rapper MGK and friends in an Ohio Mall

Rapper Machine Gun Kelly alerted his fans via Twitter that a flash mob was goin' down at the food court of an Ohio mall, and even filmed a black-and-white "official" version of it.

Except it's not a flash mob and is actually more like a riot because:
1. There's only, like, five people actually doing anything
2. All they did was jump on tables and shout "Lace up!" into a megaphone
3. The flashiest thing that happened was MGK took his shirt off


2. Technically not a flash mob (but basically): Moncler at Grand Central Terminal

There's a slight difference between planned (like via text, as Merriam-Webster so 21st Century-ly informs) and orchestrated. The Moncler fashion show in February was definitely orchestrated. The Times reports that Anthony Coppers, a production coordinator at Villa Eugenie (the company who put on the show) was very clear about it not being a flash mob. "It's not a flash mob," he said.

But it definitely looked like one, and here's why:
1. People were uniformly dressed up in Moncler
2. 363 people were on board with the whole thing
3. They were dancing

But! Out of the 363 participants, 200 of them were just dressed like regular old commuters, which takes some of the spontaneity out of it. Also, Coppers makes sure to add that "The city was very specific about not mentioning flash mob," so this one's a toss up on a technicality.


3. Definitely a flash mob, H&M kids dance in San Francisco

Without a doubt, flash mob. Here's why:
1. The kids are just hanging out, minding their own business and doing pretend activities like patty-cake, and then all of a sudden, boom
2. There's dancing
3. People didn't know what was going on. But they loved it, because it was adorable
· Dangerous Rapper Sparks Suburban Food Court Uprising [Gawker]
· Moncler Grenoble Show Takes Over Grand Central [NYT]