A Dance Party, But Done In Silence

When I lived in New York, I’d often wear headphones while I was walking around.

Most of the time I’d have music playing, but if I was thinking of a new song and trying to come up with ideas, I’d wear headphones so that I didn’t look like a crazy person on the subway. I could bob my head and mouth out lyrics and look mostly normal, whereas if I was doing the same thing without headphones, I would have looked like I had some kind of mental illness.

Headphones offer a sort of protective barrier against the outside world — I knew girls in New York who would wear them to prevent cat-callers from bothering them as they walked through the city. Usually they offer a person an ability to tune out the outside world and tune into something of their choosing, without affecting anyone around them.

But this Friday, there’s going to be an entirely different and social use of headphones. As part of its monthly ARTafterDARK event — this time with the theme Afrofuture — Honolulu Museum of Art is hosting the island’s first-ever large-scale silent disco from 6 to 9 p.m.

Silent discos are pretty much what they sound like (or don’t sound like): a dance party in silence. The first 500 people through the doors at the museum will receive a pair of wireless headphones that can tune into one of three broadcasts by DJs Maynard G, Davey Shin-dig or Sejika. LEDs on the headphones display a different color corresponding to each broadcast so listeners can see who else is tuned into the same station, if their dance moves aren’t already making it clear.

These quiet dance parties started as an experiment at the Glastonbury Festival to keep the party going late without violating noise ordinances, and they have been growing in popularity globally ever since.

I’ve been to a silent rave party in NYC’s Union Square, and it was a pretty cool experience to see a massive crowd of people dancing in public without music playing out loud. If you’ve been dancing for a while and take off your headphones, you will definitely experience a disorienting effect similar to taking off sunglasses after you’ve been wearing them all day.

While it may seem like each person listening through their own personal sound system would create an isolating experience, there’s a sense of safety and comfort in wearing headphones that actually encourages dancing.

The museum has contracted Sound Off Experience, one of the top silent disco event production companies, to provide the equipment and has reached out to local dance organizations to help spread the word and make sure the dance floor is popping. Show up early because the headphones will definitely run out.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT HONOLULUMUSEUM.ORG. FACEBOOK.COM/ANTONGLAMBMUSIC