You’ve either heard the term bandied about and wondered why on earth disco might be silent.
Or you’ve pranced around yourself wearing headphones in a dark quiet room looking quite the eccentric, bobbing about to sounds no one else can hear.
Silent disco has been around for years, originating in music festivals and used by some eco-activists to minimise noise pollution and disturbance to the local wildlife. The ‘silent’ element means the music can continue playing beyond a normal curfew. That silence is due to hearing the music through wireless headphones, and not ‘out loud’ – the music is broadcast through radio transmitters – although of course in reality there is no silence but a lot of singing aloud and giggling and, well, people having fun are not generally making much of an effort to remain quiet.
The term has been in the Oxford Dictionary Online since 2005. A silent disco was held in that year as one of the many activities at Bonnaroo Music Festival in Manchester, Tennessee, USA and the catchy term obviously stuck. Today there are many companies offering silent disco headset hire, in the UK and worldwide.
The high entertainment factor, and the main reason for their popularity, comes from the fact that silent disco headsets are generally manufactured with two or three channels, which gives the listener the choice of which one they want to listen to – and they can change between them as they wish. Due to the different music and tempos in the one party space (can be indoors, can be out) you get a funny rabble of all sorts of out of rhythm jigging and out of tune singing. From the DJ’s point of view, you are competing for dancers, but in a nice subtle way as it’s not glaringly obvious if nobody is dancing to your tunes (the pressure’s off – I love this about silent disco djing!). From the dancer’s or onlooker’s point of view it’s great fun to see who else is dancing to what you are dancing to. It’s a case of sidling up to people who have flung their hands in the air or started singing along to something en masse, and saying ‘I want what you are having!’ It’s basically very funny.
Silent disco doesn’t always suit the party, the atmosphere, the timing or the crowd. You come to know when in an evening it’s a good idea to ‘go silent’ or if it’s even worth it. We have a friend who is an expert in organising (and going to) parties full stop and if there were ever PHDs given out for Studies in Silent Disco, she would be the first recipient and would get a First for sure. She is our font of all knowledge when it comes to the art and science of silent disco and, what’s more, she has a large number of headsets for hire. In fact when she is ready to launch her company I will be fully bigging it up! Until then, we can access those very headsets (at a competitive price!) and that scientific know-how in order to organise a brilliant silent disco for YOU.
Don’t think that any DJ will do, either. You can’t use a diva of a DJ with silent disco, as he or she will want to claim to himself all the glory of the tunes and the frenzied crowd of dancers. The Dino Collective just want you to have a good time, by dancing to some great tunes. You give us the brief of what you want to hear – it’s not about us, it’s about YOU.
As you can see from the photos, silent disco can be for all ages (RIP Alan who enjoyed whiskey and dancing to the end). It can be used for different genres of music, film (just hook up a projector and you are ready to go), kids, outdoor parties, house parties where some people want to carry on chatting and not everybody wants to hear music or dance. It also seems to go very well with fancy dressing (you will see photographic evidence of some very fancy Mexican Day of the Dead outfits, don’t ask me why this theme goes so well with silent disco). We have even done a silent disco in a teepee in a field in Surrey, but it didn’t seem too necessary to be silent when you have hectares of space around you and no complaining neighbours, so after a while we gave up on the silent bit and just did noisy disco.
If I have spurred you on to hold your own silent disco, you know what to do. Try it!
If you want help sourcing the headsets, organising the night or just getting us to dj for you, please get in touch via a comment or through our Facebook page.
Above all, enjoy!
Photo credit: most photos taken by the wonderful Jay Alix.