8 Weird Things That Happen at Silent Discos
08.25.17

DISCLAIMER: I AM AN INTROVERT. THE ONLY YELLING I DO IS IN CAPS LOCK. I have years of experience being told, “You’re so quiet!” and then wishing I’d retorted with, “Maybe you’re just loud.” (So far I’ve only said it in my head.) As a result, my stamina for loud people is determined on a case-by-case basis, but I can say with complete confidence that I always like loud music. In fact, my favorite pastime is paying money to watch the same musicians I blast through my earbuds play their music through high quality amps, straight into my face. I’m pretty sure the only reason I consistently attend spin classes is because the music is deafening.

All this is to say, the idea of a silent disco, those gatherings where people jam out to their own personal little dance parties that you’ve probably seen on commercials and at music festivals, seemed nothing short of a match made in heaven for me. It looks a little awkward from the outside, sure, but I don’t have to “talk” (scream-shout) at anyone, can control my own volume and I get to look like an aspiring DJ with big ass fancy headphones? SIGN ME UP!

Thankfully, I reside in New York City, so finding such a gathering and signing up for it took two whole seconds. I landed on Quiet Events‘ homepage, saw the words “Rooftop Party” next to “3 DJs,” blocked out my Saturday night and, believe it or not, survived to tell the tale. Below, my findings on this very twenty-tens trend, complete with pros and cons should you be in search of some weekend plans:

1. PRO/CON: It’s louder than you expect.

There is some creative license being taken with the “silent” that’s sitting in front “disco.” Upon entering the space, it was quite noisy — just with chatter instead of the usual music + chatter. Imagine a trendy, bustling restaurant with no background music. Great, now throw in your roommate singing in the shower, thinking they’re super on key. Multiply by 30 and add nine. Voila!

This can be seen as a pro if you were worried about being able to hear pins drop when ordering a drink, or a con if you were really pumped about watching people dance in complete silence. Both were me. Either way, headphones are on the majority of the time, so it doesn’t matter, but a DJ did warn us, “If you want us to keep the rooftop open, you can’t be that loud!!!”

(I’m still confused by the mixed signals, please advise.)

2. PRO: You can fully indulge your SSAS (short song attention span).

The Blue Ranger, the Red Ranger and the Green Ranger

I can only make it through 70 percent of most songs before I swipe to the next. I diagnosed myself with this years ago, and it’s probably a symptom of our current app-addicted culture that’s being suffocated by a plethora of choices, but I digress. Silent discos are great if you also suffer from SSAS and, like me, have no plans to remedy it.

Quiet Events had three separate DJs — red, blue and green to correspond to the light-up channels on every pair of headphones — spinning distinct vibes (there was a TBT boyband-heavy channel and that’s all you need to know), so I was able to find something I liked the entire night. It was like flipping through radio stations without the annoying commercials and soul-crushing traffic, or Uber-DJing without your friends glaring at you for skipping “Shape of You.”

3. CON: But you can also get song envy.

Picture this: You’re getting down to RiRi and DJ Khaled on the Blue channel. Life is great, you were right, this is the unofficial song of the summer, you were getting sick of “Despacito” anyway. Then, your eye catches a group of Greens throwing their hands in the air. You begin to wonder what you’re missing and worse, what you’ve already missed since you picked this channel. Yes, you love the flamenco guitar in “Wild Thoughts,” BUT WHAT IF “DROP IT LIKE IT’S HOT” IS ON RIGHT NOW?

4. PRO: You can take the party with you while you pee.

Finding the perfect pee channel.

Listen, I almost always have to pee. Especially when “going out.” I’ve learned to accept the am-I-missing-my-jam FOMO that comes with waiting in line and focusing all my energy on successfully squat-hovering over toilet seats. With wireless headphones, however, you can take your sweet time emptying your bladder while “Hot in Herre” plays as your personal soundtrack, just as crisp and clear as it is on the dance floor. If that isn’t one of the best applications of modern technology, I don’t know what is.

5. CON: Your balance is more off, even by clubbing standards.

In a normal club, the mix of alcoholic beverages, close quarters and Top 40 hits leads to unavoidable shoe-stepping and drink-elbowing on its own. But adding total ear-encompassing headphones seemed to magnify every collision — people were literally in their own zones and navigating through them was a bit treacherous. Granted, everyone was more spaced out than you’d find in a traditional clerb (people tended to congregate in their own mini parties), but the OH SORRYs were more intense and frequent.

6. PRO: Your Snapchats become The Office-levels of uncomfortable.

I’m putting this under pros because 1.) I hate straightforward club/bar/night-out Snaps where I can’t even hear the damn song I assume the Snapper wanted me to hear and 2.) I love the discomfort of The Office. Upon reviewing the night on my friend’s Snapchat Story the following morning, I found a string of snaps that looked and basically sounded like this:

Yeeeah, anyone who was not in attendance (roughly 99 percent of the people who watched said Snap story) has zero clue what I’m dancing to. I didn’t even remember what I was dancing to, and I spent half an hour trying to decipher what “Lucky for you” even meant. I was later informed I was dancing to “That’s What I Like” by Bruno Mars, hence the caption, but I assume there were several head scratches and cringes abound, and knowing I contributed to that is what inspires me to try at life.

7. CON: You may end up doing the very thing you (read: I) despise.

Being talked at while I’m wearing headphones by a non-headphone wearer is one of my biggest pet peeves. But, against my better judgment, I’d start talking to people with their headphones on while I had my headphones on, assuming they could hear me because we both had headphones on and, somehow, those two things should cancel each other out? I don’t know. I must admit I had a few Sudden Clarity Clarence moments where I had to re-evalute who and what I’d become after yelling at my friends to switch to the red channel, the RED channel!!!!

8. PRO: Taking off your headphones is equally as entertaining — heartwarming, even.

Half of the fun of this entire experience was periodically removing my headphones to creep people-watch, and it was a beautiful sight to behold: A dim room of party people sing-shouting and dancing to absolutely nothing but their own sing-shouting. It was like watching people watch the eclipse, or watching people contort into weird poses to take perspective pictures in front of national monuments. Everyone, including yourself, looks ridiculous and it’s the best.

You know that eerie feeling you get at a concert when the lead singer leads a mass chant and it feels like you’re being inducted into a cult? That was nowhere to be found during a particularly touching moment when everyone joined in for an a capella performance of Linkin Park’s “In The End.”

And with that, I was sold. I say get thee to a quiet club. It’s perfect for people who like being alone, together — the after-work hours equivalent of working in a crowded coffee shop if you will. And it’s still fun for people who actually want to connect with other human beings. You start to form a weird sense of camaraderie with people listening to the same channel you are, simply because their headphones are the same color and “your” DJ is also lit up in that color, too. (Is this why sports are so popular?!)

Your ears will be thankful for the reprieve, your people-watching itch will be scratched and it’ll momentarily restore your faith in humanity for at least two choruses worth of time. And most importantly, you’ll feel like you made new friends without having to really talk to anyone at all.

Photos provided by Vincent Miron and Erica Smith.

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  • Hayley

    This sounds amazing. Every now and then they have these at brewfests in mini scale, and I love participating.

  • Arden

    The first time I went to a silent disco was at a new year’s eve warehouse rave situation deep in Brooklyn and the little oasis of people silently bobbing their heads and switching back and forth between dj’s to join their friends was absolutely the best part of the night!

  • The introvert in me is screaming (silently) about this whole idea. I need to find one near me STAT.

  • “Is that why sports are so popular?” Yes, in a nutshell. I can’t believe I’ve never been to a silent disco. I guess I just didn’t know what they were. Color me intrigued!

  • Maren Douglas

    I went to one of these in Miami and it was probably one of the most fun nights I had in college!! Plus those moments when the majority of people are jamming on red and blue and you make eye contact with the one other person on green and smile at each other. Introverts dream. Great article !