The English language has gotten stretched and prodded into new shapes in recent years. Words such as “tweet” and “viral” have taken on new meanings, and new terms have entered the lexicon to describe activities that, not too long ago, simply didn’t exist.
These “brave new words” include the “flash mob,” and its cousin the “lip dub.” Naples was introduced to lip dubs when a group spearheaded by radio host Dave Elliott organized one, a massive production with hundreds or thousands of participants going through a routine, captured live in one camera shot, all while singing along to a given song.
A flash mob, for those not up on their cyber jargon, is when a group of people come together and, unbeknownst to the bystanders, launch into a routine or performance. A group of Barron Collier High School students, anchored by the school’s Key Club, decided to put on a flash mob.
They converged on the courtyard outside Counter, a burger restaurant at Mercato, at noon on March 23, but before the first dancer took the first step, a lot of other legwork had to take place behind the scenes. Creating a “spontaneous” performance takes a lot of organization, planning and practice, the team found out.
The flash mob’s organizers are members of the school’s Key Club, and the plan was to raise money for a cause, and accumulate some volunteer hours for the students. They chose a project that Unicef and the Kiwanis Club have been active in, the elimination of maternal and neonatal tetanus. This disease kills 160 babies around the world each day, and can be prevented by a vaccine costing just $1.80 per mother.
The Eliminate Project became a cause of Key Club President Jena Martino, who brought it to the group, and asked for donations to the organization rather than presents when her birthday came. For her work with the Eliminate effort, she was honored as President of the Year at the Florida Key Club conference in Orlando earlier this month.
To recruit dancers for their flash mob, Jena and Matt Roberts, another Barron Collier senior in the Key Club, visited “at least six” area high schools. Matt and his twin sister Marni recorded a “how to” training video to teach the dance steps, set to the tune of “Hello” by Martin Solveig & Dragonette, and posted it to YouTube. While the kids’ enthusiasm is catching, there are a lot of steps in a three and a half minute song, even when the first minute and a half is the exclusive domain of the core group, and the balance of the ensemble doesn’t come on until that intro is complete.
But even so, organized dancing just looks easy when it’s done well because of the amount of work that goes into choreography and rehearsing.
“It’s so hard. I couldn’t get it,” said Carol Roberts, Matt and Marni’s mom, who was involved in putting the performance together. Nevertheless, when the large group “kicked” in, there she was, bouncing away with the high school kids. “The only way I could get it was watching everyone’s behind,” said Carol.
So at noon on Saturday, a high percentage of the people hanging around were high school kids wearing jeans and white T-shirts, which all happened to promote the Eliminate Project. A careful observer might have suspected something from that, along with the sound system and the table set up for donations. But in truth, almost everybody at the square between Counter and Bio at Mercato was in on the secret.
The music started, once they got the power issues sorted out, and the core group of six dancers launched into their routine. Watching them, it was easy not to notice the other two dozen dancers materialize, but all of a sudden there they were, formed up into four lines, and keeping the dance unified. Then, after just three and a half minutes, it was over.
The kids talked of doing the routine again another day, where more spectators might see it — and possibly be inspired to donate — but colder feet prevailed.
Like all cutting edge digital escapades, this one has a video. It was shot by Flo Danielak, Matt and Marni’s grandmother, a last-minute recruit as camerawoman, in her first attempt at shooting a film with her daughter’s iPad. Danielak did a more than respectable job, and her video was posted on YouTube for all the world to see.