BY: JONATHAN ANDRINO-VELA
Here come your friendly neighborhood, Flask Mob. Loosely based on the idea of a flash mob, Flask Mob is a monthly meeting of San Francisco creatives who gather with flasks and cameras to mob the streets to discover and photograph the city.
The idea of a photo walk isn’t necessarily a new concept. Instagram has been hosting worldwide meets for over two years. The Hundreds, an LA-based streetwear company, hosted a Street Meet—essentially the same idea, back in December 2013.
Nonetheless, Flask Mob is everything but your typical photo walk. The idea is to network as a creative: photographers, illustrators, brand owners, models - everyone is invited. Along the drunken ride, mobbing hundreds deep, making turns into backstreets and coming to stops at red lights, there is always a subject to shoot.
Flask Mob is known for its steel wool spinning, which when ignited and spun makes for an intricate photograph. However, for passerby's that aren’t familiar with the walk, it may look like havoc.
Yet, it is; incredibly organized havoc.
They even provide music throughout the night from an amp on a shopping cart—illuminated by Christmas lights, as if it wasn’t loud enough to spot already.
Every walk has a mapped route, sidewalk coordinators—making sure the crowd marches on the sidewalk and off the streets, walkie-talkies, and megaphones.
Just over a year into continuation, the Bay Area rooftop dwellers have made appearances in Los Angeles twice. On their second visit, they found how much stricter LAPD really is.
The meetup location was set for 6 p.m. at 866 S. Mission Rd., just over the 7th street Bridge and adjacent to a dead end alongside the LA River. Unlike ever before, this particular night Flask Mob teamed up with two other like-minded event organizers. Because there was more input into this LA meet, the turnout for the night was strong.
Typical to every meet, there’s a “pre-game”—early arrived patrons of the walk drink and roam to photograph the last bit of the sunset’s final golden minutes—followed by a warm welcome and a huge thank you from the Flask Mob members themselves.
Everyone puts their drink(s) in the air—cheers—and the exploration begins.
Prior to the Flask Mob members arrival there were a few steel wools spun. As soon as the meet kicked off and the group was well on the way: sparklers were lit, lighters were sparked, people were dancing and vibing, meeting new people and documenting the entire night.
The prettiest of girls get asked to stand underneath the light post for a second for a photograph. People wear their props and masks. American flags get raised and waved, and just when you see a gleam of a red smoke bomb light up behind the flag—you realize the perfect photo-op. Snap.
On the walk back towards the 7th street Bridge, sirens fire and a helicopter beams its light down, highlighting the group. Snap. You see another photo-op.
Rule of thumb: both fire and police sirens make for very dramatic pictures.
The policeman orders through his megaphone to turn around and exit the bridge. By the time you look up across the other side of the bridge, the exit is barricaded by a line of 10 police officers. Much of the group turns around and heads back, while others tease the policeman; spinning steel wool in front of them and igniting more smoke balls.
But, yet again. Snap. Another photo-op.
Weaving around the industrial factories, the group finds an empty receiving and shipping yard where a pyromaniac patron jumps atop of a loading deck to throw gasoline into his mouth and spit out onto an ignited torch.
At this point, LAPD had the group enclosed from both sides of exit. That didn’t stop the mob from continuing the festivities.
However, soon enough, people wanted to disparage, but were not allowed.
After some delegation from both sides, LAPD saw that the riot squad was called mistakenly—they identified the group for something more dangerous than they really were. No one was hurt and both parties worked compliantly with one another to assess the night.
Although the night came to an abrupt end and LAPD shut down the after party, Flask Mob Los Angeles was a success.
It is more than a group of your rowdiest peers and colleagues, but like-minded, ambitious, and thriving creative individuals that are most importantly friends.
Since the prevalence of social media lingers towards the millennial generation, the mob knows how to remain on its toes whenever posting publicly about where, what, and when; knowing that their meets get a little rowdy— authorities don’t like rowdy.
They have remained consistent month to month—so keep a lookout.
At the end of 2014, a member’s dog, which was the team mascot, was stolen. The mob discovered a blurry surveillance photo of the culprit and reached out to their audience for any leads. With the help of social media, they were able to track down the transient thief.
Aside from its networking resource and festive entertainment, Flask Mob is known for its community projects. For example, working with San Francisco Fire Department and their charity event to collect toy donations these past holidays.
Just another service provided by your friendly neighborhood, Flask Mob.