by Shaun Knittel -
SGN Associate Editor
Egan Orion, executive producer of One Degree Events, knows that the world is watching. His team of volunteers, choreographers, and flash mob enthusiasts are taking the game to a whole new level - locally and throughout the nation - to dance, sing, perform, surprise, and ultimately delight the masses, both in person and online.
A flash mob is a group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an act for a brief time, and then disperse, often for the purpose of entertainment or satire.
Seattle Gay News caught up with Egan, known throughout the city for his events (most notably the annual Pridefest at Seattle Center), as he was still riding high off his most recent flash mob, which had a Glee twist.
'The first time I ever saw a flash mob I knew I just had to do one in Seattle,' said Egan, who is jokingly referred to as 'The Mob Boss.' 'I had no idea what I was doing. We were winging it.'
Following the death of Michael Jackson in 2009, Egan decided it would be fitting to organize a flash mob on the King of Pop's birthday. 'The first time was exciting and a little edgy,' he explained. 'We didn't even have a permit from the city. We barely knew what the formula was. Still, a lot of people showed up, and it just kind of took off from there.'
A successful flash mob looks like it formed miraculously, seemingly out of the blue. But the reality behind the scenes is much different, according to Egan. 'You've got to pick locations, get the volunteers to learn choreography, and then try your best to keep the mob scene secret until the event takes place.'
He says the best way to get attention is to pick a vanity location (such as Seattle Center or Westlake Center) because the media likes to get shots of places that are intrinsic to Seattle, and then choose a performance location which will garner a large audience - although it may seem a bit disruptive at first.
'Just before we go on, we pass out the confidential location sheets to all the flash mobbers,' said Egan.
'Anyone who does a flash mob gets addicted,' he said. 'Flash mobs are their crack, and they can't get enough.'
Egan says he even knows people who get a bit sad in between the flash mobs because 'it is such a high for them to be a part of, they just can't wait for the next one.'
Another unique aspect of the flash mob community, he says, is that it is the great equalizer. 'The experience is just great. We get kids as young as 4 or 5 years old, and adults as old as 70. Our flash mob crew is made up of people of all shapes and sizes and from every ability level, such as professional dancers or the uncoordinated white guy who can't dance,' he said.
A lot of work goes into each event, but in the end it all pays off, Egan said. 'In order to properly create the unique participatory experience, we have to work at it. Flash mobs are done by people - without payment - who give 100 or more hours of their time. Each flash mob that we do seems to grow in participation and excitement,' he said.
Egan and his crew have produced flash mob experiences in New York City for Microsoft, performed at the halftime show at Qwest Field, and even shut down traffic in Seattle as they performed. The success of the flash mobs has eclipsed the other areas of his business and has become somewhat of a full-time gig for Egan.
The latest venture took place on April 11 in the form of a Glee flash mob.
Egan wrote, 'We came, we mobbed & GLEE! & Our Glee flash mob today was truly epic - 1,100-1,200 dancers came out to three locations around Seattle and gave the town a show. It's Seattle's largest flash mob to date, and one of the largest flash mobs in America.'
'We want the flash mob experience to feel cool and relevant,' Egan told SGN. 'It's all about people of various backgrounds and experiences sharing in this together. Flash mobs are a culmination of months of work where every person who participates cares about the outcome. Flash mobs are great for the audience too, because they get to watch people experience a certain level of happiness and joy and fun - and experience that for themselves.'
For more information about Egan and One Degree Event's flash mobs, visit them online at www.onedegreeevents.com/flashmobseattle/index.html.
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