The new trend of quiet clubbing and the silent disco
There is a new craze sweeping through Europe and it is starting to take hold of music festivals internationally- the silent disco. Say you want to get together with a group of people: some will want to stand around and talk; some will want a dance floor. A hot spot that won’t attract confrontations with police or nearby residents disturbed by loud music will not only make everyone’s life easier and provide a place to hang out, but it will offer something new and completely different to try. Thus, the silent disco comes into play.
According to the website for silent disco events, (http://www.silentdisco.com) what started from the idea of entertaining people preparing for an act, evolved into a plan for an illegal disco party using wireless headphones. The silent disco founders, Nico Okkerse and Michael Minten, birthed the idea and unveiled it in 2002 at the traveling music festival in the Netherlands called De Parade. This brilliant way of pleasing everyone without contributing to noise pollution simply involves grabbing some wireless headphones, a dance partner and heading to the dance floor. The headphones allow for comfortable music transmission only those wearing them can hear. This is without a doubt a considerate way to party but it is kind of odd and funky.
The July/August 2008 edition of Ode magazine featured a story on the silent disco which mentions, “everyone raises their hands in the air, simultaneously shouting, Ooh ooooh!’ The odd thing is, you don’t hear any music.” The accompanying picture, though, shows extremely jubilant and excited dancers all wearing headphones. So these party goers are clearly not embarrassed to be seen dancing to what looks like silence. The founder of Camping Rotterdam, Rini Biemans, is quoted in the same issue of Ode as initially finding the notion of the silent disco as “quite funny.” Yet he too was obviously intrigued by the idea enough to incorporate the silent disco into his summer festival layout.
Festivals, concerts and various other musical venues are all promoting the silent disco as a good time for all. However, the quiet concept really exploded in popularity in 2005 when all eyes were on the extremely renowned performing arts festival of Glastonbury, England. Loud music penetrating the Glastonbury air through the wee hours of the morning could have potentially ruined the festival experience not just for festival organizers and the local Glastonbury residents who get tired of the concerts from time to time, but for the festival attendees who went to the shows to do more than just hear music. It’s hard to meet new people, converse with pals and get the latest souvenirs and memorabilia if the music all around you is drowning out your words.
With such booming success, there will be a silent disco option local to you before you know it. In fact, there won’t just be a silent disco nearby. Technology companies are supplying this same wireless technology to music companies and events across the globe so that soon quiet clubbing will be a reality. Residence of densely populated cities will hold music festivals and concerts while being able to sit back and enjoy the silence.
I love to dance.
Whether I’m at a planned, themed SYR I have been looking forward to all week or a spontaneous study break dance party, I am always willing to bust a move. While my moves are not graceful, smooth or cool , the one redeeming quality of my dancing is copious enthusiasm. Whether or not the world wants to see it, I love to move my body.
So, obviously, when Allie and I decided to go to Silent Disco at Legend’s this past Saturday night, I was excited. The premise of Silent Disco forces the dancers to accept that they will look ridiculous. Silent Disco-ers don headphones and choose between two channels broadcasting the stylings of two different DJs. If any dancers takes their headphones off, they can watch a roomful of silent people dancing to different beats. Participants must accept that they will be part of this ridiculous set-up. Basically, Silent Disco forces everyone to approach dancing as I always approach dancing: abandon any semblance of caring about what onlookers think.
Allie and I, along with the friends we coerced into going with us, arrived at Legend’s at about 12:30 am. The scene when we got there was a little pathetic — about 11 people silently (and awkwardly) dancing. This sight did not deter my enthusiasm. I grabbed a pair of headphones and tuned in.
The beauty of any ill-attended Legend’s night is the huge amounts of space you have to break it down. Unlike a crowded dorm party or an SYR where all attendees feel the need to dance as close together as possible, Legend’s provides copious amounts of dancefloor when there are only 15 people in attendance. With my headphones on and the dance floor clear, I danced it out to song after song. I looked completely foolish, and I loved every second of it.
If you choose to participate in the glory that is Silent Disco, however, do me a favor and do not sing along to the music. We had the honor of hearing the vocal stylings of a very drunken group of boys. While I understand that most Notre Dame students belt out “Livin’ on a Prayer” every chance they get, the glory of Silent Disco was ruined by the attempted harmonizing of these inebriated fellows. I was busy shakin’ it to the electronic beats of the other channel and hearing their dulcet tones over my own channel threw me out of my dancing zone.
If you do choose to participate in the spectacle of Silent Disco, there are some key steps to maximizing your fun. First, choose to go with a group of people who will enjoy it. These friends must either be unafraid of looking ridiculous or be easily coaxed into looking ridiculous. Secondly, if you are of age, go with a bit of a buzz. Don’t go so smashed that you will become those kids who sing aloud to every song, but a slight social lubricant can only help overcome the initial barrier of awkward. Finally, come prepared to show off a wide variety of dance moves. The white guy head bob or the awkward step-tap-wave-your-hands will simply not cut it. Need inspiration? Watch Robyn’s “Call Your Girlfriend” music video. Realize that Robyn is in her 40s. Aspire to her give-no-cares style of aggressive dancing.
Although Allie may try to convince you that Silent Disco was a terrifyingly awkward experience that forced her to boogey uncomfortably in place for a third of the night and loiter by the water for the rest of the time, don’t listen to her curmudgeonly ways. Take your destiny and your moves into your own hands. Dispel your cares about what the measly 10 others in Legend’s think of you. And just dance.
Silent Discos Increasing In Popularity
If you arrive at a
backyard party this summer to complete silence, you may not be at the wrong
You parked with all the
rest of the cars, and this is your friend’s house, so where is the party? All
that can be heard is a rambunctious dog that sounds like she wants to play. And
as you round the corner, logic skips a beat as you see 40 of your friends
dripping sweat in a full on dance party…in silence?
The Silent Disco is an
idea that has been around since 1969, but an event that has grown in notoriety
over the past 8 years. Until recently, it would be a rare and relatively
exclusive experience, requiring a pair of wireless headphones per partygoer.
Few have built on top of their own experience and evolved the silent disco
venue into a marketable and reasonable business plan like companies Silent
Events® in Nashville, TN and “Silent Noize Events” out of Birmingham, UK.
Only being in operation
since February 2010, “Silent Noize” has done over 500 events across the UK and
Ireland. With the option of renting the equipment and spinning some of your own
vinyl, or hiring DJ’s, promotional staff, engineers and assistants, “Silent
Noize Events”(UK) and Silent Events®(US) have made it possible to host your own
silent disco this summer, as many now are. But to do it by yourself would be to
miss the most interesting aspect about these events. Up to three DJ’s can all
be playing the same venue at once, as the headphones have three channels
receiving at a time to allow the audience member to listen to a different live
performance with just a flick of a switch.
University students are
catching on to the popularity of silent discos, as they create a raging party
environment with none of the excessive noise pollution or late night neighbor
complaints. That is why Silent Events® “America’s first, largest and most
experienced silent disco provider” has started its own Nashville-based University
of Silent Disco.
“Silent Events is the exclusive Silent Disco provider
for universities in America. We founded the University of Silent Disco to
specialize in producing on-campus Silent Discos. We have produced Silent Discos
at colleges such as: USC, Vanderbilt University, LSU, University of Miami,
UCLA, North Carolina State, University of Houston, Cornell University and
University of Texas-Dallas. For a complete list of the universities we’ve
worked with, please visit www.universityofsilentdisco.com.” Silent Events® will be having a full schedule ahead of them as this
summer’s festival season approaches. Now known for introducing three-channel
headphone events to the states, Silent Events, they also
organized the first “Silent High School Graduation Party”, first “Silent
Wedding Reception”, and the first to have a silent concert in 2008. They were
also the first to bring the experience to Bonnaroo, Bear Creek, Camp Bisco,
Wakarusa, North Coast Music Festival, Jam Cruise and many more big name summer
Conveniently, the silent disco fills its own unique
niche, in that it usually takes place at the same time everyone else is
sleeping. For those dedicated to all-nighters, the party can continue into the
morning, with no need to turn the volume down for the campers. The “Silent
Disco” won’t disrupt those that want to sleep off the exhaustion from a long
day of partying in the hot sun. And if it starts getting too late for you, its
as simple to talk to your friend as taking off your headphones and giving them
a poke. So if your walking back to your campsite at the end of the first night of
your favoritefestival, and the 4 man drum circle is louder than the hundreds of
people wearing headphones dancing to their own beat, you will know why. It may
look bizarre from the outside, but once you put on the headphones and choose
your preferred channel, the unique appreciation for such an oddity starts to