Moments That Make Us Yearn to Be Part of a CrowdEveryone wanted to get out last night! Whether you were in a city where you could roam the streets, or in a small-town bar, or simply at a friend's house, it was a bad time to be alone in your apartment. It was one of those rare moments where people took to the streets in celebration. It's a primal, biological urge: spontaneous gatherings are inspired when we lose the desire to be an individual and are inexplicably driven to be part of the herd.Past examples? Well, September 12th in New York City. While people weren't sure what they wanted to do or what to think, the one thing they knew for sure was that they wanted to be around others. (Remember those trend pieces about post-9/11 sex and couples reuniting?) The Blackout of 2003 was an awesome confluence as well. It took power out all the way west to Detroit, where I remember it as one of the few moments where the highly segregated black and white populations dropped their guard for two days and actually talked to each other without suspicion, offering clean water and the like. Of course, there was also 1945's V-J Day and its iconic Times Square celebration: Moments That Make Us Yearn to Be Part of a Crowd
But collective revelry isn't just an expression of excitement or a biological impulse: it's also a political act. Spontaneous mass gatherings, for example, inspired events throughout history, such as the French revolution and slave revolts. They can also be inspired by hate or fear—like Los Angeles's Rodney King riots, or the black-Jewish violence in Crown Heights in 1991. According to anthropologist Robin Dunbar, as quoted by Ehrenreich in Dancing in the Streets: a History of Collective Joy: Moments That Make Us Yearn to Be Part of a Crowd