2 years ago I walked into a bar in New York City and was immediately struck by what I thought was a very strange sight. For the record, I grew up 15 miles outside of Manhattan, I went to NYU and I lived in the city for many years afterwards so I know New Yorkers and can honestly say that virtually nothing shocks or surprises me anymore. Having said that, this was one of those rare instances when I was surprised. The place was relatively quiet despite being full and having lots of people dancing. Usually when I walk into a bar I’m focused on finding a table or an open spot at the bar. I’m usually not looking too closely at the people so the limited sound, the number of people and the dancing was weird. After focusing I realized that everyone had headphones on and apparently were listening to the DJ via the headphones. Weird! It reminded me of when I was a kid. I would sometimes watch Soul Train on TV with the volume down. Fucking hilarious. So anyway, it’s called a Silent Disco and apparently it’s popular for some strange reason. So, finding myself in a rare moment of surprise, I did what came naturally to me. I ordered a nice bourbon, sat back amused and watched a room full of dancing douchebags wearing headphones.
Fast forward to about a week ago. I received an invite to a Quiet Party which is based on the Silent Disco concept. I had forgotten all about that entertaining experience and I honestly couldn’t believe that it was still “a thing”. More importantly, I couldn't figure out why this particular person (who's 5 years older than me and I'm 44.) was having this party in the first place. Can you imagine a more pathetic sight than a bunch of folks in their 40's and 50's trying to bust a move on the quiet dance floor. No thank you! Turns out that my reintroduction to Silent Disco was just as weird as my first. Where did this concept come from?
Being a curious sort of fellow, I had to dig in and try to make sense out of the Silent Disco thing. I did a little research and learned the following. The Silent Disco concept was originated in the late 1980s at England’s Glastonbury Festival. The festival’s promoters wanted to keep the party going well past local noise restriction ordinances so they had to get creative and figure out a way to keep the party alive. Silent Disco was born. The concept made it’s way to the US in 2005 at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Tennessee in 2005.
I know that sometimes I can be a bit hasty and rush to a conclusion, so before I decided to throw the Silent Disco concept out the window I wanted to be fair and consider the 3 main benefits that Silent Disco fans rave about. Here they are along with my thoughts:
- You can remove your headphones and have a conversation with someone without having to yell over the music. When I was a young guy, when I went out, I wanted to meet women. This is the dumbest and most unsocial thing that I've ever seen. Unless you only want to talk to people you know, the likelihood of meeting someone new is dramatically reduced. Natural communication is limited. For me that's a FAIL.
You can control the volume of the music in your headphones. Also another very logical and practical point that also happens to also be super lame. Have you ever heard the phrase "If it's too loud you're too old?" Maybe you should get your old ass outta the club and into some grown folk activities. Just sayin....
- You can move the party anywhere and not have to worry about disturbing others. Seriously?
I guess the bottom line is this; if Silent Disco is your thing then God bless you. You go dance til you drop. I personally think its a great way to remain celibate and look ridiculous while doing it but hey, that just my opinion.