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Flash-Mobbing for a Cause

We were attacked by zombies in Zamalek. Thankfully, they didn't eat us and instead we invited the leader of the crazy crew, Hassan AbdelTawab in to explain the method behind the madness...

We were recently walking down 26th of July Street, minding our own business, munching on some gambari sandwiches from Asmak Gomhouria when all of a sudden 20 zombies jumped into the street with warning signs to humans. This was peculiar but nice, since we never thought that, when the zombie apocalypse eventually happened, they’d be courteous enough to warn us. However, at closer inspection, they turned out not to be zombies at all. Which was a little disappointing but we got over it when we found out it was crazy flash mob crew, Pause and Listen, performing a seriously cool stunt, warning passing cars about the dangers of texting and driving. They certainly got our attention so we invited founder Hassan AbdelTawab in for a chat about how it all begun, trouble with the police and how anyone can get involved. 

You guys are crazy. Tell us more.

Let me tell you how it started first. I’m a teacher and all my students participate in international art competitions. One of them suggested a flash mob as a form of theatre. When we got a group together and started working on it, the rehearsals were actually getting major attention so we decided to make the flash mob concept its own thing.  At first all our performances were supposed to have a message, and that’s still a big part of Pause and Listen, but sometimes we just do it to entertain people, especially people stuck in traffic. We dance a lot. We did the Harlem Shake twice, and we’ve done Gangam Style and a few Bollywood tracks too.

So, it’s fair to say you’re the coolest teacher in your school?

Yes, probably.

How easy was it to convince your students to join in?

Oh it’s actually VERY easy.  I’ve had almost the same students for four years now, and they’re all used to working on projects with me. I’ve taught them everything they need to know about graphic design, performances and art, encouraging them to be interested in all of that, even helping them get into courses and professional training outside of school, so they are very talented and eager.

What have been the best and worst reactions you’ve had?

A few weeks ago, one of my kids was holding up a sign saying “I died because of a driver talking on the phone.” And he was in full make up, looking dead. Some guy was stuck in traffic right next to him, talking  on the phone. He looked straight at him, apologised and he put his phone down. That was one of my best reactions. The worst? One taxi driver tried to run us over when we were doing the Harlem Shake!!!

What was the craziest idea for a flash mob that’s been suggested?

We thought about blocking the road for about five minutes, and were actually going to have the zombies pile up on top of each other in a heap! We decided against it though, because we always want a positive reaction, not create more traffic!

Do you get any trouble from the traffic police?

I actually got approached by a Lewabecause somebody told him that we were Ultras and we were here to burn cars or something. I actually stopped him and the moment we opened our banner infront of him, he smiled and even though he was pretty old guy, he got the idea. He gave me his phone number and told me anytime we go anywhere, to give him a call so no one gives us any trouble.

Does the school sponsor any of your work?

No, all the money for supplies comes from us. We actually performed a flash mob at the school and surprised the administrations. They’re interested in many of the events we work on, but when it came to flash mobs they were kind of stuck about whether or not it’s appropriate.

Can we join?

Anyone can join, I would LOVE it! I really want new recruits and I’m trying to get up to 160 because I have this huge thing prepared for summer and I need a lot more heads.

What do you look for in new recruits?

I’m looking for a person who is decent, persistent and determined because I don’t take no for an answer. If somebody doesn’t show up for their appointment once, they’re out. Oh yeah and they need to have at least one form of talent that I can benefit from.

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