The cult of flash lands in Lion City with a whimper

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 09 September, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 09 September, 2003, 12:00am

You know a trend is truly finished when it reaches Singapore. The brief flash mob phenomenon, which has been rolling round the planet since June, when a crowd of New Yorkers gathered at Macy's Department Store to buy a love rug, seems about ready for its last not-so-spontaneous gasp.

The past fortnight has seen mobs attempt to flash into the Lion City, but with between five and 10 people in attendance, the turnout seems poorer than our own McDonald's ballet dancers.

One thing that will not be appearing there any time soon is Flesh Mobbing, in which a whole bunch of people get naked. Apparently, such groups are being organised in Britain and Canada - whose citizens should keep their clothes on in public places.

Apart from a sheepish urge to jump on every bandwagon, one thing that unites flash mobs is a tendency to attract gadget-hounds. Their geekiness has led to the birth of a new phenomenon: flash mugging (

It seems flash muggers turn up at flash mob events and instructing mobs to meet in darkened alleyways. The flash muggers then just drop a heavy net over the assembled crowd and relieve them of their iPods, retro trainers and hair-styling products. Hair-styling products? According to a flash mugger quoted on the site: 'Some of these buggers spend upwards of US$60 a day on keeping their hair wonky.'

Weblog Cheesebikini says even more dangerous cults have been appearing. It cites something called The Slash Mob Project - 'an interesting phenomenon where people gather at a determined point, kill all surrounding onlookers and then disperse as fast as arriving, thus leaving the onlookers dazed, bewildered and hopefully dead by what they just experienced'. Fortunately, the Slash Mob's official site seems permanently offline.

Finally, there's the Antimob. Founded as an alternative to mainstream mobbing, the Antimob Project tells its members to spontaneously disperse.

'In a given 10-minute period with the participation of everyone in the world, we will create a ghost town atmosphere in a famous public space,' predict organisers.

Sounds like what's happening in Singapore.

SmarTone advertised a new ringtone on its website last week: 'My connecting tone introduces Billy Joel Honesty,' said the site, alongside a photograph of Andy Williams. That's the problem with camera phones - the images are so small, all gweilos look alike.

Any gossip, rumours or ignominy to share? Write to Neil Taylor at