Introduction: How to Start a Flash Mob

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Simple guidelines for creating a Flash Mob or Cacophonous Event.

Step 1: Have an (original) Idea

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These are harder to come by than you think. Flash Mobs and Cacophonous Events aren't very effective if nobody attends and they aren't very fun if you're only aping something that's already been done in another city.

Ideally, they should be any one or combination of the following:

- Silly fun ( Pillow Fight Club, [http://Spontaneous Musical Food Court Musical])
- Subversive ( Frozen Grand Central, Critical Mass, Belarusian Ice Cream Mob, Smile Mob)
- Costumed Rampage ( Santarchy, Zombie Mob, The Brides of March)
- Benignly disruptive ( ATM Applause Mob)

A wider range of people are more likely to join you if your event does not:

- Promote a profit-making enterprise
- Exalt a specific individual or group
- Cost much (if anything) to participate in
- Have overtly political overtones (then it's a demonstration, and you will get tear gassed)

Step 2: Timing Is Everything

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This refers back to the whole participation thing. If your event is spontaneous in nature and just requires people to show up at the same time and do something goofy(say, gather at a subway stop and follow the first bearded person you see as if they were Jesus), they won't need much time to prepare. The ideal time for this sort of event is at the end of the workday (between 5 and 6PM) during the week as a) the streets are more crowded and b)participants are more available. For whatever reason, Thursdays seem to be most effective.

If you are planning something more elaborate, like a Costumed Rampage, you want to give people at least a week to prepare, and preferably two. These events are most effective in heavily populated shopping and tourist areas, so Saturday afternoons work best. Note: these often turn into drunkfests.

Step 3: Get the Word Out

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By now you should have figured that all of the steps actually go back to the participation thing. People can't show if they don't know.

If your event is spontaneous in nature, you can:

- Create an anonymous email account (it's best that your event not have an easily identifiable leader) and send to 50 random people in your address book. Ask them to send it along to another 20 people.
- Post to bulletin boards like You can post to the Events board, or target a specific demographic by posting to specific discussion forums (kink, vegan, divorce, etc.).
- you can also use sites such as to sms message your mob to cell phones, but this will require that you establish a contact list, which isn't very spontaneous.

If your event is more elaborate:

- Post to local event calendars and discussion groups. The following are pretty good bets:

Step 4: Step Back and Enjoy

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This is your mob. You provided the ideation, the timing and the marketing. Now step away. People just really want to be led, but resist the urge. If your concept has merit, the mob will self organize and self determine into something more than you could have ever conceived. If you lead it, it will likely just become a parade. Not that there's anything wrong with parades.


LorettaM7 (author)2015-11-04

I work in a large grocery store and I am planning a flash mob for our grand opening. My manager told me I have to pick a song that we would not have any copyright infringements. Is this something I have to worry about?

MustGoFishin (author)LorettaM72016-12-04

If your getting paid YES!

azure639 (author)2016-01-18

+ LorettaM

Yes, what you are planning is a "public performance" and the copyright holders will have to give permission and you will likely have to pay. That's what copyright laws are about--fair use.

MustGoFishin (author)azure6392016-12-04

This is a non-profit organization so they pay $0 out of the $0 they profited.

vmcampos (author)2008-04-28

fireandshadows, Did you not read my post? I said it's a waste of time because instead of doing something productive, or helpful, flashmobs show up to do something frivolous. Why not organize these people to clean graffiti, clean a sidewalk, or something like that. Yes, it's "in the name of fun" but not everyone can have fun in this world. Shouldn't we try to make the world a better place for everyone, instead of for selfish, frivolous reasons?

azure639 (author)vmcampos2016-01-18


So now there's a shortage of fun in the world?

cornflaker (author)vmcampos2008-05-02

But, if you tried to do the same thing, except cleaning graff, picking up rubbish etc... No one will turn up! because like you said its just for some fun, and cleaning graffiti isn't fun. P.S. I don't disagree with making the world a better place I do agree that it is something we should all try to do, but cleaning graffiti won't really help those who can't have fun.

tmanh (author)cornflaker2012-08-21

same idea like you,man.! ^^

JamesRPatrick (author)vmcampos2008-05-27

Every party has a pooper that's why we invited you, party pooper.


TheBestJohn (author)vmcampos2009-02-16

sounds like you need to go out and have some fun...

mspark400 (author)vmcampos2008-05-09

don't get me wrong im all for improvment of the world but ... all work and no play makes jack a dull boy +1

xanxor (author)vmcampos2008-05-03

Do you mean tags or graffiti?

technodude92 (author)xanxor2008-05-05

I think he means both.

DrBlind (author)vmcampos2008-05-01

I think you missed the point of a "Mob", if it wasn't to have fun it would be called a Crew or Group. Mob, works as the name for fun.

Orr-Wat (author)DrBlind2008-05-04

Too right! I don't see what everyone's so up tight about this for... its a bit of fun! I f u want to clean graffiti or make the world a better place u join a charity or somethin... flash mobs are just for a bit of fun arsein' around!

smithy813 (author)DrBlind2008-05-01

I agree

mega_swordman (author)vmcampos2008-05-01

I think what you are advocating would work in theory, but would fail in reality. This is due to the fact that this mob idea is just something fun that people can go out an do to just be spontaneous and random. Organizing a public work group would be much harder simply because you are "making" people do work, which people would rather not do.

static (author)mega_swordman2008-05-01

In reality success would depend on timing and knowing the people you invite, no matter the purpose of the event and the end goal . You can't make anyone to have fun or work, you can only ask.

mega_swordman (author)static2008-05-02

True. You are correct, but what I was trying to relate was the fact that the turnout for a service project would be significantly less then that of the world's largest pillow fight.

LAZy I (author)vmcampos2008-05-02

no. random absurdity is the key component of the universe

static (author)vmcampos2008-05-01

But is it anymore frivolous than meeting friends at the movie theater or any other entertainment venue? Yes we should try to make the world a better place, yes everyone is this world can have fun on can have fun as well. Those who do get to get together and do those positive things you mentioned have fun doing so or at least a measure of satisfaction. All about balance You do have a valid point to make, but you could have done so in better manner.

phrakture (author)vmcampos2008-05-01

Man.... I wish were MY soap box! 3 cheers for flash mobs anyway, regardless of what this guy is griping about

guarana (author)vmcampos2008-05-01

"But not everyone can have fun in this world." Of course everyone in the world can have fun! In Thailand, on their New Years (which is in April), everyone in the country gets involved in a massive water fight that lasts a few days. Most of the people involved are pretty darn poor, and of course it's all "in the name of fun". Don't be such a stick in the mud, Flash mobs make the world a happier and more spontaneous place to live.

canida (author)vmcampos2008-04-28

Don't fun and happiness help make the world a better place?

Sadam and Osama (author)2008-05-01

I like that watch!

tmanh (author)Sadam and Osama2012-08-21

Check it out,Bro :

squidmike (author)2009-01-13

Why would someone want to create a flash mob?

TheBestJohn (author)squidmike2009-02-16

read the instructable... it's not a flash riot. it's a mob... these things can be massively fun and NON destructive

squidmike (author)TheBestJohn2009-04-23

That doesn't answer my question. Okay, so they're massively fun, but why do you need to create a flash mob?

rroberts8 (author)squidmike2011-08-15

A flash mobs purpose is to show off the creative and randomness of a group of people to entartain a group of people other than the flash mobbers and then to reform with the natural grouping........PLUS ITS REALLY REALLY REALLY FUN!!!!!!!!

freakyqwerty (author)squidmike2010-11-27

To have fun. Why else would you want a mob?

commonground (author)2009-09-28

The sight of a flash mob having fun and doing the moves in unison, can express what we are all capable of. So in terms of helping to better the world as the above comments would argue for, such a sight can serve to inspire and drive the passions of people to better the world. Each have their own part to play. The flash mob's part; to have fun and spread the fun. ;) in a united kinda way.

wavetheusaflag (author)2009-09-23

Why a flash mob? Well.... I have over 100 inflatable boats and 50 floating star costumes that create a giant floating flag when connected. I would want to make a giant floating flash mob scene on a number of aquatic venues. See video and pictures of this giant flag that has flown, uh, floated several times without people. It would be a cool way to honor those that have served if we can get a flash mob on the hooch in Atlanta Nov. 11. See video at http;//

Cool-fool (author)2008-12-07

Yo mates, How can one get on a flash mob mailing list?

gck24 (author)2008-05-28

hey Mspark400 were the storm troopers wearing costumes and if they were wear did you get them? It would be funny if you marched guys in storm trooper suits down a side walk or had a huge battle in some park or square or something.

GorillazMiko (author)2008-04-28

I so want to try this at school.
Nice job.

Is that last picture in San Francisco? It looks like this place I drove by (in San Francisco) not too long ago..

mspark400 (author)GorillazMiko2008-05-09

Well i can't say we have reached this level yet but last halloween at my school( High school so it was very intense) there was a massive, and i mean massive star wars battle in the lunch room. All of a sudden jedi stormed in from one side, and storm troopers, and sith came from the other. it was so intense that the kids they could catch got in some serious trouble. I would say totally worth it though, best lightsaber battle ever...maybe something from the senior class would be a nice going away present....

Oh yeah. +1 rating.

Tengland456 (author)2008-05-05

Oh but Fireandshadow you do not understand we must all be touchy feely sociably responsible drones for the new society. Other wise its blasphemy to the new religion.

icedog515 (author)2008-05-02

lol i can see how costumes and alcohol go hand-in-hand

merideathx (author)2008-05-01

Little known fact - Improv Everywhere's Grand Central Terminal stunt was not all that subversive. They actually got permission to do it beforehand and had a Metro-North representative on-site the whole time who had given it the OK. When I think of "flash mob" I guess I don't really think of asking permission first...

vmcampos (author)2008-04-28

The potential of a flash mob is so high; it could be a chance for a variety of people to get together to do something meaning- like feed the homeless, or pick up trash. But, no. It becomes a complete waste of time: pillow fight or atm applause mob? Please. Good Instructable, however. Nice detail and easy to read.

DeLorean4905 (author)vmcampos2008-04-30

The potential exists solely because the mass of participants is expecting the flashmob to be lots of fun. Plus, it's a rare occurrence. You just dont normally get the same impetus for something like trash pick-up or loaves-and-fishes ... those things are always going on somewhere.

A flashmob gives the participants a chance to be involved in a huge public joke, and anyone who sees it gets a laugh and something to talk about for the rest of the day.
check out Improv Everywhere's "Best Game Ever"

bumpus (author)vmcampos2008-04-28

its all in the name of fun

fireandshadows (author)vmcampos2008-04-28

you party pooper, how is it a waste of time

falk (author)2008-04-29

Here's an idea that I think is valid over and over again: Any time the police harass a photographer for just taking pictures, you should organize a flash mob of citizens with cameras to return to the same spot.

Photographer's rights web page.

baduncadonk (author)2008-04-28

Eric Gutoski, San Francisco hipster legend, in Santa Clause gear :-)

baduncadonk (author)baduncadonk2008-04-28

oops: Claus

joejoerowley (author)2008-04-28

Very Cool! Great Instructable! I love flash mobs! They are so funny! Thanks Joe

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