Saturday, 14 February 2009

Frozen in Berlin

Yes, literally 'frozen in Berlin' as the Big Freeze continues seemingly without end. But I was also frozen like a wax dummy in Alexanderplatz on Saturday with hundreds of other internet pranksters.

The idea is that a message goes around Facebook and similar social networking sites, inviting as many people as possible to join a flashmob. There is no point to a flashmob. There is no political message, no protests or banner waving, no chanting or riot starting. A flashmob just agrees to get together at a pre-arranged time and do something pointless and very silly.

And so it was that at 3pm on St Valentine's Day a large crowd of those in on the joke just suddenly froze in whatever attitude they were in, and stood there silently like that for five minutes. I froze coming up the steps out of Alexanderplatz U-Bahn looking at my mobile. The looks on the faces of others who emerged into Alex were priceless; wtf is going on?! What have we walked into?

Here's one of the many YouTube videos of the event, which will give you an idea of how weird it all was:

Even the street artists froze up, and the music and dancing stopped. Whether the women who are normally begging for money in Alexanderplatz were caught up in or not, I couldn't tell. "Excuse me, do you speeek eeenglish? Do you speeek?"

The Polizei looked on bemused; 'We don't know what you're doing, but just -er- stop doing -er- nothing. OK?'

Lots of people were taking photos, which spoilt the effect slightly and you'd think that a photo already freezes its subjects in a moment in time. Which is why it's called a snapshot image. Though cleverer photographers (like my Beloved of course) took longer exposure images to get a blur of people moving around those standing stock-still. e.g. here:

Why did we do it? No, idea, but it was actually great fun and brought people together from all nationalities and backgrounds. And for free.

If nothing else, it added a bit of colour and mischief to an otherwise cold and grey day. Quite apt for this Carnivale/Fasching time of year.

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