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Michael Jackson Flashmob takes over Amsterdam. Words by Isabelle O'Kane, images by crisspix.

We gave them a dance & they brought Michael Jackson’s spirit to Amsterdam…

On Sunday 19th of July over 1,000 people showed up at Vondelpark, Amsterdam to learn Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” dance and to perform en masse later that day as a “flashmob”.

The idea was inspired by Stockholm’s dance tribute which was created by Bounce Streetdance Company. However the difference between the two productions was that while Stockholm was created by an existing dance network, Amsterdam’s was entirely “crowd sourced” using social networks and also spreading via traditional media.

In terms of a strict “flashmob” the Amsterdam production was a victim of it’s own success. After seeing the Stockholm flashmob on Monday the 13th of July I acted on impulse and decided to organize the Amsterdam version. As a new Media professional I understood how to leverage the social media networks to find participants from dance networks and Michael Jackson fanclubs. However I never dreamed that the event would grow to the proportion that it did. I had hoped for 300-400 people and was worried that I wouldn’t even get that many showing up on the day itself. So when a huge crowd of 1000 enthusiastic Michael Jackson fans rocked up to the park we were a little over-whelmed!

Nevertheless our system held strong in the park and we managed to teach everyone the dance. We had formed a tiered system where trained “lead dancers” showed up 2 hours before and were trained by a small team of management and choreography dancers whom I had met for the first time 2 days previously.

The “lead dancers” then taught groups of the “mob dancers” all around Vondelpark so that the entire park was covered with pocketed dance classes – a beautiful sight.

We had planned that each “class” would consist of 10-20 “mob dancers” who would swap numbers and stick together with their teacher during the “flashmobs” enabling the crowd to hold shape and structure. But with huge classes of 50 or more this system was unmanageable, when the “mob” congregated at our first flashpoint – Museumplein, and found about 1000 onlookers who had been tipped off as to where the flashpoints were, the aim of dancing in formation was impossible.

What happened subsequently was something quite extraordinary. After the planned performance at Museumplein, splinter groups of dancers formed and flash-danced through the city, singing “Thriller” and counting to keep each other in rhythm. After Museumplein there was an impromptu flash on Leidseplein, another planned flash on Keizersgracht and then a final impromptu flash on Dam Square where the mob even hijacked a Hare Krishna concert and played "Thriller" on stage to the crowd of MJ fans now filling Dam Square.

The “flashmob” has received mixed reviews, with people complaining that it was not a proper "flashmob” due to the fact that the dancers were not dancing all together in formation to a large sound system. However what happened was a beautiful and natural expression of love for Michael Jackson. We gave 1000 fans the gift of Michael’s “Thriller” dance and they flooded the city of Amsterdam with their screams and sporadic dances. In terms of crowd energy and emotion you would have needed to be there to have understood. Perhaps not a “flashmob” but a “firedance”.

Written by Isabelle O’Kane

Isabelle intends to continue working with the concept of “flashmobbing” and is already in talks with dancers on another project. She intends to combine her understanding of new media with her passion for creativity and self expression and is always eager to discuss new projects.

Official memory site…

Official Video

Clip of mob dancers being taught under the bridge in Vondelpark.

The Stockholm Tribute

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