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On New Year’s Eve a few friends and I went to Social nightclub to see the ball drop on 10th and K. The place was packed, the streets were packed (12,000 to 20,000 people) and there was a seriously festive atmosphere.
But the ball was small. And it wasn’t really a ball, more of a diamond inside a round cage.
The ball didn’t drop very far. It dropped maybe ten feet.
The whole thing got plenty of media coverage. There were complaints the day after about all sorts of minor incidents. But really who could have expected a crowd of 20,000 people to show up to 10th and K?
I started thinking, without any tradition or expectations all it took to get 20,000 Sacramentans to go party in the streets was a tiny ball drop.
There is something here. It seems like any time someone gives us a reason to get together lots and lots of people show up.
Sacramento lacks a crowded residential urban core. Perhaps that is what makes us so flexible. If we hear about something exciting or just “big” we all pile on. And it could be anywhere. As time moves on and technology changes, the more predictable and controllable gathering like selling out ARCO Arena becomes the less predictable and overwhelming event like the ball drop.
We create our urban experience by collectively gathering increasingly spontaneously into mobs that are both hard to anticipate and hard to control. The term may not be perfect, but I would call it a flash mob of sorts.
I contend that Sacramento is a “Flash Mob City.” That may be a good or bad thing, but it is really fascinating to experience.
We are a very connected city. If we are to gather in a city so dominated by suburbs and carefully planned residential neighborhoods not to exceed a certain population per acre we need to stay connected. And new technology, particularly the cell phone, allows these connections to be more frequent, faster and easier.
The combination of our geography, needs and new technology combine to make for a volatile mix.
Sacramento has something new that makes it special. It is not the ball drop or our love of art or sports. It is a population spectacularly flexible and fast moving. We can change our minds and our direction in a flash. We can gather instantly and overwhelm to create an urban Sacramento when we want one, where we want one.
Or I might be a little crazy. Just a thought. What do you think?