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Flash Mob Brings Some Sunshine Into Spanish Unemployment Office

Amid a harsh winter of austerity in Madrid, some Spanish musicians have been plotting to brighten the day of job seekers.

Last week, orchestra members staged an impromptu flash mob at an unemployment office in Spain's capital. One by one, they stood up in a busy waiting room — with an oboe, a clarinet, a bassoon, a couple of violins and a flute — and busted out the Beatles' "Here Comes the Sun."

A singer stepped forward, stunned employees put aside their paperwork, and many joined in song. Smiles and even a few tears streaked the faces of those gathered there to request government benefits.

"Little darling, it's been a long, cold, lonely winter," sang the group, which was organized by the staff of Carne Cruda 2.0, a radio program on Spain's Cadena Ser radio station. "It feels like years since it's been here. Here comes the sun."

"Sun, sun, sun, here it comes!" the crowd sang, swaying and recording it all on smartphone cameras. Uploaded to YouTube, a video of the incident has been viewed more than 1 million times since last Tuesday.

Spanish unemployment tops 26 percent, and most economists forecast that rate will get worse before it gets better. Taxes are up, salaries have been cut, and recent labor reforms make it easier for companies to fire workers. Record numbers of Spaniards are applying for jobless benefits.

But for one random Tuesday in January, they sang together and then erupted into applause, hugging and kissing strangers — and then filed right back into the unemployment line.

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Lauren Frayer covers India for NPR News. In June 2018, she opened a new NPR bureau in India's biggest city, its financial center, and the heart of Bollywood—Mumbai.

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