The sounds of silent disco

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If one was to watch through the windows, the dimly lit space would appear to be an average Saturday night club scene with whirling laser lights and sweaty, drunk clubgoers shaking it on the dance floor. But once inside, the place is almost completely silent without music or beats&mdash; the only sounds are the foot stomps on the wooden floor along with the occasional singalongs and whistles.</p>

 Welcome to Headphone Disco, the silent dance party where the crowd grooves the night away to wireless headphones instead of a speaker system.

Themuseum, located in downtown Kitchener, hosted the headphone party March 14 as one of their Museum After Dark events. Meaghan Hawkins, one of the directors, explained that this was an effort to “support our brand [and] to gain more interest from the university students and young professionals.”

The horde of over 300 visitors consisted of a mix of 20- to 30-somethings, with outfits ranging from disco of the ’70s to ultra-hipster styles, all dancing like no one’s watching. Everyone without headphones can hear your singing voice, but you don’t care as it’s all fun anyways. The word “fun” itself does not begin to describe what the masses experienced. Everyone was lost in the moment, even the older crowd … especially the older crowd. 

 A special feature of silent disco is the fact that there’s not one but two DJs playing at the same time, so the crowd has the option of listening to either DJ depending on the genres each prefers as they shuffle their feet on the dance floor. The stream can be toggled by simply pressing a button on the side of the headphones. While everyone was shuffling in the same room, there was a noticeable difference in dancing style and pace, creating almost two worlds of partygoers.

DJ Rick, one of the artists performing that night, said this new form of dance party was all about delivering a unique experience. 

“You’re wearing the headphones, immersed in the music, singing along and having a great time. But if you don’t have headphones on, it’s also an experience in itself to see a room full of people all of a sudden singing and dancing to whatever song that’s playing.”

My favourite aspect of Headphone Disco was the sense of freedom it offered. Participants are not only able to wear almost whatever they desire, they can easily switch between the DJs, adjust the volume of the music, and take breaks by removing the headphones to have pleasant conversation without screaming into each other’s ears like in a nightclub. The hearing-friendly environment won’t cause tinnitus (the ringing in your ears after hours of blaring music), which creates an easy atmosphere to have conversations and make friends.

“I look forward to doing this because of the ability to connect with people in a very intimate way,” DJ Rick said. “If I get on a microphone and I’m speaking into your headphones, it’s almost like I’m inside your head. This creates a bigger and more intimate connection with the people as opposed to playing a festival with 10,000 people in front of you.”

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