A group of dancers "thrilled" passersby on Chengdu's popular pedestrian and shopping street Chunxi Lu Saturday afternoon in honor of what would have been the late Michael Jackson's 51st birthday.
Breaking into what appeared to be a spontaneous performance of the King of Pop's "Thriller" dance routine, the "flash mob" attracted the attention of a reported 1,000 people.
When the dancing began at 4 p.m. sharp under the large screen at the north end of Chunxi Lu, onlookers stopped in their tracks. Some broke into cheers when they recognized the music. Most simply seemed confused.
Within the first minute, some of the spectators had joined the original group of 10 dancers; two minutes later, the dancing stopped, and the performers had dispersed into the crowds, leaving the audience to speculate on what had just happened.
(A short commercial appears at the beginning of this video.)
From West China City Daily (our translation):
'What does it mean? I don't get it. How weird.' The performance came to a screeching halt, and the dancers disappeared, leaving behind a large group of bewildered onlookers. Passerby Zhang Ling said, "I thought it was some sort of promotional stunt!" Half an hour later, curious people were still lingering on this section of the road.
'They did this Michael Jackson dance in commemoration of their idol,' said Ms. Fan, 53, who said that yesterday she heard about the memorial event and that such 'flash mob' (快闪) events are growing more popular. After reading about it online, she decided to bring her husband along to see what it was all about; although they understand the purpose of the event, they still don't understand this term 'flash mob.'
The flash mobbers staged another performance near the Champagne Plaza one hour after the original, provoking a similar reaction among onlookers.
Flash mobs are a relatively new phenomenon to the world, and have only just started their following in Chengdu. The group formed about a month ago, using online chat and social-media provider QQ to find members. Rehearsals for Saturday's event started around this time.
This was the group's second Chengdu performance. A few weeks ago, the same group posted to Chinese social-networking site Douban that they would appear frozen for one minute on popular tourist street Kuan Xiangzi on the evening of Sunday, August 9.
WCC Daily describes flash mobs as "an international fashionable hippie action."
See additional photos and videos on Chengdu QQ. QQ's online poll asks readers to vote on their views toward "Chengdu fans using flash mobs as a means of commemoration." As of Monday evening, 5548 readers had voted "It's original!" and another 2726 had voted, "It's meaningless."
Translation of selected comments on the QQ forum about the article:
"You see foreign videos, and then just copy them, and then it becomes big news online. What nonsense, use some creativity to commemorate MJ, OK?" (阳光倾城 from Luzhou)
"From the pictures it looks like the dancers are very unprofessional, commemorating Michael is very good, but you should wait until you can dance very well and then try it again. At your current level, what are you commemorating?" (Sunshine from Nanchong)