Last Saturday, the modest Buffalo-nian suburb of Tonawanda served as the setting of my first silent disco. This was the Silent Night Silent Disco, the second event in two weeks put on by SE² Silent Disco, the premier silent party company of Western New York. I thought I had the basic concept of a silent disco correct in my head: rent headphones, select which channel of live DJing I prefer to listen to, and dance away. However, before actually attending one for myself, I didn’t know how the logistics of everything would work out. Was there background noise in the bar when not wearing headphones? Was the sound quality on the headphones good? How do I talk to my friends? I didn’t know if it would be fun or just awkward.
As we approached the bar, I saw crazy seizure-inducing lights flickering out of the windows, yet heard absolutely zero music. My first impression had been made before even walking in, and my first question answered: no background music. After checking IDs, getting in, and receiving my headphones, I noticed the design of the headphones was bold and sophisticated. A sleek acrylic band connects the soft ear pieces, each side with a bright, clean logo stamped onto it. I can barely take the anticipation of what the sound quality will be like, so I throw these headphones on the second I get them and am floored. Unlike many over-ear headphones that I’ve used in the past, this magical device put out some serious sound quality and managed to impress me. I instantly want to run to the dance floor and jam, but restrain myself and head to the bar with my friend, Jen, first.
As far as the atmosphere of the venue was, sans music, the front room with the actual bar in it was filled with people conversing and no awkward dead noise. Most of the people in this room have their headphones wrapped around their necks, so this in itself acts like background music, as the noise blasts off into empty space rather than into the ear. The best fact that I observed in this scene was that no one had to scream over the music to hear each other. So far, so good. With drinks in hand, it was time to move to the back room with the dual DJ set up and the silent ravers. The night’s event had three channels to pick from. The blue channel was a mix of trap and house DJs, red was primarily trance, and green was a request channel for the attendees. After flicking through the three channels, Jen and I decided on team blue and stepped onto the dance floor.
With our headphones illuminated in a beautiful cobalt blue color, we put them on and instantly get in the zone. The dance floor itself was split half in half between people that were dancing away, and others talking to their friends. I looked around and saw that the music choices of everyone was scattered. The people on the blue channel were for the most part crouched and stomping down to some trap music, while people on the red channel were gazing into the air, taken away into a trance. My eyes locked with a stranger who was also tuned into blue, and we danced away together. The saying that “Music brings people together,” was brought to life as I felt this bond with this person who was merely listening to the same thing as us. It’s a pretty cool, unique feeling, because we have the option to listen to different music, and don’t share a single sound source, yet still vibe as if we were at the mainstage of a festival.
After numerous drink and bathroom breaks, we returned to the dance floor once again and this time, I wasn’t feeling the blue channel anymore. I switched between red and green for about 15 minutes, and finally settled on red for the rest of the night, as Jen stuck with the blue channel. At this point, I was thinking that now I would be separated from the experience with my friend because we are now listening to completely different styles of music. But strangely enough, (and I don’t mean to sound like a total hippy right now) the energy among both of us was so strong within our own little musical worlds that we fed off of each other’s vibes and were still dancing strong together. Even though we’re on different music channels, I still felt like I was enjoying the same music event with my friend.
At this point, my mind is made up: silent discoing is totally awesome. Check out our photos below!