The Beats After Sunset party, held on the first Friday of every month at the Bass Museum of Art, is always a great time for young art lovers to enjoy a night of music, drinks and culture. The museum is taking their event to the next level with the Fiat Urban Surf Party edition of Beats After Sunset this Friday, Aug. 2, from 8 to 11 p.m. 

For the party, the museum will have their regular outdoor dance party in addition to an indoor Silent Frisco party, which will be a dance party inside the museum where guests can listen to dance music using wireless headphones. The result is a dance party for those who are listening with headphones while those who opt out can enjoy a refuge from the thumping music (but we highly recommend joining in on the fun). The effect is super cool and a rare chance for Miamians to experience the silent dance party craze firsthand, which is all the rage in Los Angeles and San Francisco.Whether you choose to do the silent dance party inside or the booming outdoor party, DJ Antanas Jurksaitisfrom Rockit Sauce & DJ Seamaster will be behind the turntables providing the beats.

In addition, locals can sip on Reyka premium small-batch vodka from Iceland and Rex-Goliath Wine during the party while you check out the museum’s collection of art as well as the latest Fiat car which will be parked inside the museum. Adding to the fun is an afterparty at Rokbar, where all attendees of the party will get complimentary cocktails from 11-12 pm. Best of all, all of this is free. You’d be a fool to miss this event.

Headphone Disco attracts students to dance, in silence

“Is it here?” a confused student asked her friend only to be answered by an equally puzzled face.

They had followed the posters that were taped to the floor and made their way through the bright and busy dining hall in search of the Headphone Disco, a party that had been highly publicized throughout the University Center for the past two weeks.

The poster stated 7 p.m., yet something was amiss.

Inside the darkened room, strobe lights flashed and silhouettes danced across giant projection screens. But instead of the usual thumping bass that accompanies any music event, they were met with only silence.

But that hasn’t stopped the other students who were already inside. With headphones firmly clamped over their heads and eyes closed, together they danced to an unknown beat.

It seems to be a common reaction among those uninitiated to the new party craze that has been sweeping across the nation: caution, confusion and a great deal of curiosity. But those who try it for the first time are instant fans, as silent disco mania quietly but rapidly makes its presence known throughout festivals, clubs and universities across the country.

There’s hardly any noise at this headphone disco, except for a few bystanders chatting in a corner with their headphones off. Don a pair of headphones and it instantly blots out any other noise except for the crisp and rich music melting into your ears. Two DJs man the decks as music transmitted through terrestrial airwaves makes its way to wireless headsets. Users have the freedom to flip between the two channels and even adjust the volume accordingly. Watching people dance without music might seem silly at first, but the students break dancing their way across the floor don’t seem to mind.

It may sound like a bizarre concept simply designed to lure crowds. But according to Grahame Ferguson, 38, the co-director of Headphone Disco, it was one that was born out of necessity. “There was a night festival [in the UK] that wanted to carry on with late night entertaining so they asked us what we could do about the noise curfew,” he explained. “Since we couldn’t have any amplified noise at 11 p.m., we came up with a solution: we could try having people wear headphones.”

The idea, which Ferguson stated was inspired by an art installation in Holland, caught on and quickly spread throughout the UK. It didn’t take long for the concept to make its way across the Atlantic where it was spotted in 2005 at the four-day Bonnaroo festival in Tennessee.

Heath Baumhor, 28, is the booking agent for Silent Events, the company that organized Bonnaroo’s first silent disco. “It was truly a spectacle because to an outsider, it literally looks like there’s a hundred people dancing in silence,” Beaumhor said. “It was eye opening – you could hear the DJ perfectly. At the same time, by taking them off, you could have a conversation with someone and you don’t have the bass making your ears bleed.”

Beaumhor added that silent disco is the perfect addition to an industry that has long been in need of a fresh idea. “We’re just being hit from all angles when it comes to music festivals and concerts coming through town that having something out of the norm is so inspiring,” he explained.

To others, the variety that a silent disco offers is its biggest selling point. “How many times have you gone to a club or a party and thought, ‘this music sucks’ and wished you could just change the station?” said Jennifer Milam, 24, the student program coordinator at the University Center. “Here, you can do just that.”

But it’s not just the multiple channels that have caused the spike in the demand for silent discos. Its practical application also means that it’s possible to have a party in almost any given space, an idea that’s certainly not lost on industry members who have been using the technology beyond the usual boundaries of the club or festival setting. The technology has already been used at events in museums, art galleries and rooftops.

“Technically you can even have [a party] in a library,” joked Jeff Hyman, 42, the senior agent at Degy Bookings International, who handles event dates for Headphone Disco.

Unwilling to be limited within the confines of four walls, Silent Storm has taken that idea and turned it mobile.

The company instantly made headlines in 2010 when it hosted Boston’s first ever pub crawl. Using a transmitter supported by a mobile power source, it gave headphone-wearing partygoers the freedom to play Frisbee outdoors before hitting the next pub.

“At each stop, they gathered a bunch of strangers who were dancing in unison, people were added to the group until they continued moving to the next stop,” said Sarah Thomas, director of business development and public relations. “It was just a snowball effect of contagious excitement.”

However, silent discos aren’t just entertaining large crowds. Companies like Silent Storm and Headphone Disco also host wedding receptions where guests of varying ages can switch between oldies and top 40 tracks.

When it comes to the music, Thomas says she feels that the phrase “silent disco” is incongruous to the actual concept. “I think the term ‘silent disco’ sometimes throws people off because they think they’ll only be listening to ‘70s disco music,” she said. Thomas added that Silent Storm recently provided equipment for a live performance where the band entertained crowds using electronic guitars and drums plugged into the transmitter. “Anything amplified can be silenced,” Thomas said.

Silent discos are also quickly gaining a reputation for providing a virtual smorgasbord for every musical appetite. In addition to the tried and tested oldies and top 40 hits, even country music is getting the silent treatment.

“We’ve been talking to country music event planners about organizing a silent line dance using country style DJs,” said Beaumhor. “We’re going to dabble in that [genre] to see how it works out.”

Hyman adds that it’s possible to even play around with the aesthetics. “You can even add black lights, glow paint and have a glow paint headphone party,” he said.

But when it comes to business, Hyman believes the headphones themselves can be used as a creative marketing tool. “You can do branding for the headphones if you want to bring in sponsors for larger events or use them for your fraternity’s logo,” he said.

With companies looking to draw university crowds, host even bigger festivals and branch out to other music genres, insiders say that the trend is on the brink of becoming mainstream. But even without the glowing headphones and the mobile parties, Charles Kaplan, 37, thinks that he has figured out the basic appeal of silent discos.

“Putting on the headphones is like putting on a mask,” said the owner of Silent Disco USA. “Once it covers your ears, you feel protected and you’re just at one with the music.”

A surprising new musical craze is taking the nation’s dance floors by storm – the sound of silence.
Silent discos, in which people dance to music played through personal headphones rather than speakers, was once the preserve of music festivals and special club nights.

But now it is becoming increasingly popular at weddings and private parties, enabling teenagers to dance to their hearts’ content without keeping their parents or the neighbours awake all night.

And the fact that dancers can choose between two or more different channels, means classical music fans waltzing to Schubert can in theory share the same floor as ravers partying to hard-core techno music.

Its origins are said to date back to an obscure 1969 Finnish sci-fi film called Ruusujen aika, but its popularity has soared in Britain since it appeared at the 2005 Glastonbury music festival.

It now appears to be entering the mainstream – not unlike karaoke – with home silent disco kits available for about £250.

At least half a dozen companies offering silent disco have set up in the UK in the last three years and all reported business was booming.

One firm, Headphone Disco, has set up franchises in Germany, Ireland and East Africa and is in talks with the British Council about the potential of silent disco being used to promote the UK’s image overseas.