What is it really like when you go to a silent disco and why doesn’t it look like fun on YouTube?
Silent disco looks really stupid on video. It just does not translate well.
Silent disco even sounds stupid when you try to tell someone what it is like. At the end of the day, the old cliche is true. “You’ve just got to experience if for yourself!”
And yet, here we are! I’m going to attempt to tell you what it is like in spite of the odds against me.
So, against your better wisdom, you have finally given in to three months of nagging from your best friend. You are going to a silent disco tonight!
Your friend is all excited and you are about as comfortable as an earthworm stuck in the middle of the road as the sun is coming up.
You get there and there is a line. You hate waiting in lines!
Your friend explains that they have to check you in at the door to assign you a pair of headphones and hold your ID in order to make sure the headphones don’t get stolen.
Great! Not only are you going to feel stupid once you get in there, but you have to wait in line for the privilege.
Hopefully nobody will recognize you while you wait.
Finally you get to the head of the line. They hand you your headphones in exchange for your ID. They start to explain how the headphones work as your friend interrupts saying she’ll take care of that. What?
You can’t just listen to music? You didn’t need instructions for your ear buds! What kind’ve archaic headphones are these that you need instructions?
There is a channel selector, a volume wheel and a power switch.
Each time you switch the channel the headset changes color. There are three colors; one for each of the three channels.
The sound quality is surprisingly good.
Being able to set your own volume level is a game-changer for clubbing.
You are so used to having the music uncomfortably loud that it is almost jarring to be able to set it yourself.
Your friend turns to talk to you but you can’t hear her. As you stare at her quizzically, she beckons for you to remove your headphones.
It is shockingly silent! You can talk to your friend without raising your voice!
You find that you can also set the headphones around your neck and hear the music at a low volume while you talk to your friend.
Then you start dancing and that is where the magic happens.
You never knew you were such a good dancer until you tried it with headphones on!
For some reason, your inhibitions disappear when you are wearing headphones!
Somehow your ego is protected by the headphones! They surround you with courage and take you to a place that feels like no one can laugh at you!
You can’t remember ever having this much fun dancing!
Your friend appears to be listening to a different song, and you can tell because her headphones are a different color then yours.
She beckons for you to listen to her channel. You beckon for her to listen to yours.
A hilarious babbling of beckoning ensues with each of you trying to mime louder than the other. You start cracking up! -Having fun in spite of yourself!
You learn that half the fun of silent disco is trying to convince your partner to listen to the same channel you are listening to.
When it comes to songs that have a sing-a-long chorus or a particularly recognizable dance move, you start to over-emphasize everything in an attempt to draw in your partner to your favorite channel.
You find yourself cracking up against your will! There is such a cognitive dissonance to the whole thing!
Soon you’ve forgotten all of your worries of the day and have slipped through the silent disco portal and in an alternate headphone world of hilarity!
Some Silent Discos employ three live DJ’s and each DJ supplies the music for one of the three channels on your headphones.
This leads to an implied competition between the DJs, each trying to get the most people listening to their channel.
Because the headphones change color according to the channel being listened to, the whole room full of bouncing headphones keep sweeping back and forth from color to color.
Because each headphone is on top of a dancers head, it is like one big ever-changing human light show.
This is another source of fun as you make requests of your favorite DJ and/or watch your favorite DJ attract listeners and then lose them.
This drama between DJs is significantly more fun than the typical criticizing of the DJ choices in a traditional clubbing atmosphere.
The sheer number of music choices is a delightful break for our collective attention deficit disorders.
Not only are there three different songs playing at any given time but the DJs tend to switch more often in order to hold their listeners.
Don’t we all just love listening to the first two choruses of a song and then clicking on another favorite? Well now you can!
Add that to the DJs switching songs much more often than they would if they were working alone because of the other two other DJ competitors, and it is a music lover’s paradise!
It is exhaustingly fun! At the end of the night your stomach hurts from all the laughing you did and you feel as relaxed as if you just finished a marathon!
You come home and try to tell your friends about it. They don’t want to hear about it. They just don’t get it.
You can’t figure out why they don’t believe you when you tell them how much fun it was! Then you realize, -that it just doesn’t transfer well.
They’ve just got to be there themselves!
The following video clip from a New York City Silent Disco party gives a pretty good idea of the what the experience feels like and looks like. The language is English once you get about a minute into the video.