It's 6:45 pm on a drizzly Wednesday evening at Waterloo Station. The main concourse is crowded more than usual due to train delays. Anxious faces stare at blue screens hoping for their cue to sprint to a platform in the hope of a seat. The middle aged lady with handbag in one hand and mobile phone in the other looks down for a second and stares in bemusement at two young ladies who begin dancing to the sound of their personal stereos. She shakes herself to check her senses are not playing tricks as a Conga line streams past behind her with 20 or 30 people listening to their own personal stereos. Other commuters look on dumbfounded.
Welcome to the world of Mobile Clubbing. Simply, mobile clubbing is turning up at a pre-arranged public place on mass where you begin to dance to the sound of your own personal stereo. It is unclear where the concept of Mobile Clubbing originates but one thing is clear and that in the world of spontaneous mass public gatherings, it has replaced Flash Mobbing. Throughout the UK, events are organised on the Internet, informally among groups of friends and the word passes via chat rooms and news forums. But what is the point of meeting on mass and dancing to the sound of your own personal stereo?
"The point is that there is no point, we do it for fun, we do it because we can." explains Ben Cummins, a musical artist who with his friend Emma Davis organised this and other Mobile Clubbing events in the UK.
Emma (28) wants to dispel the myth that this is about trendy metropolitan London twenty-somethings. "We have had families turning up at events. We have had older people and we have had suits but everyone has fun and there is no trouble." she explained.
The people who attend these events are diverse for sure but they are not sad, they have friends and are mainly intelligent and articulate people.
I bumped (literally) into Beth Parker, a trendy metropolitan twentysomething from West London, who told me: "I enjoy dancing and had fun at a previous event at Liverpool Street Station." She's listening to James Zabiela & Sasha's Breakbeat. She floats off with the rhythm, unfazed by the attention from the media and from frowning commuters.
I meet a pair of middle aged ladies who would not have been out of place on Strictly Come Dancing. Mary from Norwood and Penny, originally from Hong Kong but now of Streatham Hill met at a dance class. They have been dancing partners ever since and told me about their repertoire of Argentinean Tango, Charleston and Samba dancing. Mary whisks me away and before I know it she is leading me in a Tango. Aware of my rapidly increasing heart rate, I rapidly disengage and thank the two ladies for their time.
"We need more men," she declares.
All around the main concourse there is a polychromatic array of multicultural mixed sex, mixed aged groups doing their own thing. The common denominator seems to be a sense of fun. Many of the stranded travellers are snapping pictures with their mobile camera phones, some even get into the spirit and join in. The majority look on in bewilderment.
The station staff and the police, who have clearly been tipped off, look on. They are prepared for the worst case scenario but the event passes without incident and with the minimum inconvenience to commuters. In the corner I see the British Transport Police interviewing Ben and Emma but even they have to admit that while there was a potential public safety issue, they could not fault the conduct of the hundred or so participants.
Ben was happy with the result.
"Everyone had a good time and there has been no trouble." he said.
Asked about the next event Ben explains: "It will just happen, we don't do this to seek publicity, the whole point is that anyone can come along and have fun."
Check out http://www.mobile-clubbing.com for future events. ®