Friday night hockey froze when a flash mob stormed the Senators rink.
Pumping “Vamos a la Playa,” Binghamton local Katie Barlow lead the way. During the first intermission, fans broke out their best dance moves on the concourse at the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena. For a moment, everyone was so caught up in random song and dance, they forgot about the long concession lines and numbers on the scoreboard.
Barlow, a 2011 Alfred University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in theater and a minor in dance, grew up in Binghamton but moved to Oregon to pursue dance. After realizing there’s no place like home, she returned to Binghamton with hopes of creating something different and exciting. Organizing the flash mob allowed Barlow to let loose and express her inner creativity while bringing community members together.
“I see this project as a stepping-stone performance,” she said. “Wise and something great for the Binghamton community.”
Most of the 30-member mob consisted of BU, BCC and Alfred students. Many found interacting with students of different backgrounds very rewarding.
The performance consisted of five main songs and three transition songs. Each one had its own dance; the mob didn’t recycle any moves. To the audience, the flash mob was both surprising and confusing. After a short dance by a group of boys at the beginning, one woman said, “Must be a frat.” Another woman added, “They didn’t have frats like this in my day.”
“I thought it was great,” onlooker Jason Gruenauer said. “I was hanging out, waiting in line for a beer and then there was fantastic free entertainment.”
The group of boys danced their way across the arena, colliding with a group of girls. The dancers joined together for the finale of the flash mob, leaving the audience snapping photos and videos on their phones and cameras.
Andrea Clapper, a freshman majoring in early childhood education at BCC, said the flash mob allowed her to step out of her comfort zone.
“At home, I’m not really a social person,” Clapper said. “This helped me be less shy.”
Barlow tabled in the student union at BCC to attract dancers for the mob. She also put up posters Downtown and around the BU campus. The event’s publicity helped raise awareness, and the mob helped further Barlow’s career as an emerging choreographer.
“This has really helped me to make a ton of connections in the area,” Barlow said. “This is what graduate schools, dance companies and colleges will be looking for when furthering a dance career.”
Barlow, currently an independent choreographer, is hoping to attend graduate school for choreography and higher education. She has organized other large-scale dances, specifically her senior project, which consisted of 45 dancers. For the flash mob, the key was keeping the dance moves manageable for everyone, even those who didn’t have any experience in performing. Barlow wanted her dancers to be able to learn the choreography in about 15 minutes and then practice the dance until memorized.
After the performance ended, Barlow was relieved that all went smoothly, and she plans to continue this tradition.
“I would love to organize another flash mob!” she said. “There is something about bringing a large community together and doing something spontaneous to create happiness in an area that might need it that is great!”