It must be a strange scene to walk in on if you don’t know what you’re getting yourself into: A club full of dancers gettin’ down with no music to be heard.
Sharkeez was packed wall to wall last month with more than 200 jitterbugs for Santa Barbara’s first ever Silent Disco. Instead of deejays pumping tunes through speakers, the music was piped into wireless headphones attendees picked up at the door on their way in. Put on by Memphis-based Silent Events — which hosts similar shindigs all over the country — the night reflected the growing popularity of the counter-intuitive quiet dance party.
But what, you may ask yourself, is the point? Ray Collins, Silent Events’s S.B. organizer, explained noise ordinances don’t come into play, meaning people can dance their hearts out virtually any place, any time. And, it’s actually easier to talk with people at silent events. Instead of shouting over loud music, folks are able to take their headphones off to converse as they please. Lastly, it’s simply a fun novelty to shake things up.
A software engineer and UCSB graduate, Collins explained he was thinking about hosting a silent dance on his own when he started doing research and came across Silent Events, which started out at Bonaroo a few years ago and has steadily gained momentum since. He’d been to one before at a music festival on Treasure Island in the Bay Area and had a blast. So did everyone else. Silent events have been popular in Australia and Europe for the past decade, said Collins, and are just gaining a foothold here in the U.S.
Though the night at Sharkeez — which featured two deejays playing two different songs that dancers could choose between by flipping a switch on their headsets— was well attended and well received, Collins said he’s shopping around other downtown venues for when another local silent event goes down. Tonic has shown some interest, he said.