Who can honestly say that they prefer to listen to dance music at quiet volumes? Not many dance music fans….. The louder the better, right? In a perfect world, this would never be a problem. But more and more issues have arisen in the last couple of years regarding the volume of festivals and events, resulting in the music being turned down, or shut down altogether. Take for example the fact that the Q Dance stage from TomorrowWorld 2013 had to be moved and scaled in 2014 down due to neighbor’s complaints. Not even the legendary Red Rocks Ampitheater is safe from noise complaints: the venue turned their volume down last year, and will likely lower it even further next year. I even experienced the effects of noise complaints firsthand at a local event a few months back, where a neighboring business complained about the volume of a block party at 8pm in downtown Buffalo… resulting in the police forcing the volume to be reduced to background music levels…. weak.
While none of these events were breaking any local sound ordinance laws, they were still seen as a problem to outsiders. This is where things get messy: the DJs just want to play their music, but grandma next door wants to watch reruns of The Price Is Right in peace. Is there any amicable solution?
Enter SE², one of the newest companies to spring up in Western NY. Inspired by other smaller silent discos seen at festivals such as Bonaroo, Mysteryland USA and Electric Forest, founder Kevin Bell saw an opportunity and jumped on it. The idea of the silent disco is simple: event attendees arrive at the event, check out a pair of wireless over-ear headphones that get their sound from the decks of a DJ playing live, and you have a silent rave. In some instances, there can be two DJs battling side by side and attendees can switch channels on their headphones to listen to whichever set they prefer. When this happens, the headphones light up to match the color of the DJ’s headphones that they are tuned into.
We had the chance to chat with Bell about SE² and where he plans on taking the silent rave.
How did you get started?
Roughly five years ago during a popular music festival Bonnaroo 2011, I stood in line for two hours awaiting the chance to try the silent disco. That opportunity never came as I left the line due to excessive waiting. That day, I mentioned to a group of friends, “Wouldn’t it be great to develop a company that could do this on a local level and eventually compete at a festival level? Look at all those people that waited for hours just to get in, and really you can only do these at festivals.” After Bonnaroo I did some research and came to find out quality headphones were ranging anywhere from $200-$300 dollars. This was not in my price range and I was unable to support it. Then came Bonnaroo 2014, and within minutes I understood the ‘buzz’ around this experience; it was new, interesting, different, and such a large change from a typical show. This year after a couple more silent disco experiences only at festivals, I decided to enter the business. This July, I began doing research on headphone pricing, DJs, Lighting contacts, Venues, and Promoters. After taking out a loan, our DBA, and building our business website, before I knew it we were on our way to running a successful business. Within days we were given an opportunity to co-host our first silent disco a couple months away at the Music is Art Festival in Buffalo with the Buffalo Rage Community.
What would you say is your target audience?
What’s great about Silent Disco’s is they are versatile. There is a really wide target audience because depending on where the technology is being used it can range greatly. This technology can be used for DJ Shows, Wedding Receptions, Fitness/Gym Classes, Conventions, Corporate Events, Birthday Parties, Movie Shows, Yoga, Art Galleries, Walking Tours, Comedy Shows, and Bilingual Events.
How does this change the rave game, in your opinion?
A Silent Disco allows promoters and event coordinators to offer events where patrons have the ability to listen to up to 3 audio sources/DJ talents at a time with no noise ordinance complaints. With patrons wearing wireless radio transmitting high definition headphones, there is a unique experience created where everyone is hearing the same quality music no matter where you are located in the venue up to 1,500 ft away. A Silent Disco in my opinion allows your patrons the ability to hear music from the DJ/Producer as it was meant to be.
How much does it cost to rent the equipment for a day?
The cost for the equipment depends on the amount of headphones, however for a 100 headphones it would cost a rental fee of $6 per headphone and a refundable deposit of $10 per headphone that is returned once the equipment is returned working. ($80 replacement cost for broken/missing headphones).
So there you have it! Truly a game changer for dance music, the silent disco allows for everyone to be happy. With the outsiders trying to shut us down, don’t be surprised if you see more of these events popping up in your area.
To contact SE² for your event:
UPCOMING SE² EVENTS: