Riviera Reporter
Riviera Reporter

Provence Diary: Flashmobbing in a Luberon village

Flashmob in Luberon

Every Wednesday I stand and watch them. Fifteen women of varying shapes and sizes, grunting and groaning to the music. Some of the moves are embarrassing to witness. Particularly the moment when as a class they get down on all fours, place their bottoms provocatively in the air and let out a deep moaning sound. It’s unashamedly sexual and always prompts me to look away.

My excuse for being such an avid fan is my toddler. She can take or leave Teletubbies but give her a Zumba class and she’s hooked. I never for one moment thought my voyeurism would lead to anything more. However, last week I found myself in a small private room with the instructor. She’s a toned young fitness fanatic and unashamedly body confident. Quickly she began to strip off her clothes.

Before I explain further, I must go back to the cause of this compromising situation – the Flashmob. When the posters started going up all over our village I had no idea what a Flashmob might be. My best guess, given the cryptic internet link provided, was that Tinder Plus had arrived. Casual sex was so 2014. Enter Flashmob, some sort of a new application, which, so I imagined, enabled one to issue a “flash” (ie strip) command to any passerby.  

I Googled the name when I got home and instead came across a video of men and women in suits walking hurriedly across the concourse of Liverpool Street Station. On the stroke of 6 pm, music started playing over the station speakers and, almost down to a person, the commuters all broke into a choreographed series of moves from the musical Chicago. The best part was the shocked looks on the faces of those not in the know. I later learnt that the concept had started in America. People learn a dance on the internet, and then agree to meet at a set place, at a set time, and as a crowd (mob) break into dance.

This, of course, is not the sort of thing you would expect to happen in a Luberon village but there they were, posters for a televised Flashmob. Thereafter, my evenings were spent, together with my children, learning the moves, which had been posted on the internet. Step, step, step, knee bend, jazz hands … you get the idea. By the afternoon of the event I was competent, if not quite Len Goodman.

At the appointed time we waited en famille in the village square. There was the odd drop of rain in the air, but nothing significant. Entering into the spontaneous spirit of a Flashmob we acted as natural as possible, waiting for the clock to strike the hour. I looked around for other Flashmobbers. There was an old lady with a stick sitting on a bench and a man delivering wine. Cunning disguises, I thought. Others would surely join from all corners of the square. The hour chimed, and we hit our marks, step, step, step, knee bend, jazz hands. Strangely, there were no other dancers or music, just a confused looking delivery man. The old lady appeared not to have noticed.

Undeterred, we continued with the dance.

Step, step, step, knee bend, jazz hands.

The old lady still stared into space. The delivery man took out his mobile phone to record our antics.

One more time we went for it.

Step, step, step, knee bend, jazz hands.

I was expecting a cavalry charge of dancers from the corner of the square.

Step, step, step, knee bend, jazz hands.

Nothing. Even the delivery man lost interest.

We eventually found the Flashmobbers in the municipal hall. I say mob, when in fact it was just the 15 or so women from the regular Zumba class. Fearful of the rain affecting their hairdos, they’d retreated inside and were now in discussions with the TV producers about how to create the necessary feeling of spontaneity. Counter intuitively, this involved some warm up exercises to get everyone “hot”. Energetic, moaning, whistling and bum-wiggling followed. At the climatic point of the dance there was a ripping sound, as the instructor’s toned bottom burst its banks and flooded from all corners of her jeans.

Now my wife, Tanya, is something of an angel. While others stood and watched, she ran to the aid, immediately offering to swap her jeans. In the dressing room behind the stage, with my back turned for decorum, I supervised the exchange, gathering together mobiles and loose change. Then we were off, ready for the most un-spontaneous Flashmob ever.

Meanwhile, an idea was germinating in my head, for an altogether different type of Flashmob, a mobile phone application to replace Tinder. I’d make millions if only I could find the right moment to explain the concept to my wife, the Zumba angel.

Jamie Ivey is the author of Ten Trees and a Truffle Dog and runs the website www.provenceguru.com

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