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Silent Disco by SilentArena at The University of Durham 84.jpg

The concept of a silent party, Silent Gig or silent disco involves party-goers dancing to music received directly into headphones. Most commonly, this will be music provided by two DJs who will broadcast via an FM transmitter with the signal being picked up by wireless headphone receivers worn by the silent party attendees. Another type of silent party involves the gathering of a group of people in an unconventional location to dance to music which they provide themselves via an MP3 player or iPod and conventional wired headphones.

The idea has been around since the 1990s. Eco-activists found that the easiest way to get large numbers of people to certain areas (e.g. a forest slated for logging) was to put on a party. Such events can cause ecological disturbance, however; a compromise solution was needed for particularly sensitive areas.

A similar, but autonomously conceived platform is Mobile Clubbing, flash mob gatherings involving hundreds of people first seen at London's Liverpool Street Station in September 2003 and subsequently in numerous public spaces throughout the UK , Europe and worldwide.[1]. There are numerous distinctions between Silent Disco and Mobile Clubbing, firstly that Silent Discos are usually held in conventional clubs and participants listen to music selected and transmitted by the hosts. Whereas the purpose of Mobile Clubbing is to transform en masse public spaces into temporary clubbing areas, in which dancers listen to their personal playlists. Also, Silent Discos are publicly advertised dance venues, whereas Mobile Clubbing is, being flash mob, organised partly so as to surprise the unwitting hosts of the space and the general public.


Silent disco occurrences

In May 2000, a silent gig was arranged to take place in Cardiff, one of many events organised by the BBC as part of their Live Music Events programme. The Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff held the event, involving both local bands and DJs, with the audience listening to the music being played via sets of headphones.[2]

A silent disco in 2007 at Victoria Station, London involving 4,000 participants[3] was mistaken as a flash mob by local media. To date this is the largest silent disco covered by popular media. The reason this disco—aside from its nature—is not truly considered a flash mob, is its lack of a set time period or dispersal plan. The event was broken up by police two hours later.

To date there have been numerous experiments with group audio-parties with headphones. A silent disco was staged at the Glastonbury Festival in 2005,[4] allowing the party to continue through the night but without disturbing the local residents with huge sound volumes typical of such parties.

In 2005 artist Veronica Dougherty brought silent disco to Brooklyn's not-so-silent Williamsburg neighborhood. She had attended her first silent disco in Rotterdam two years earlier.[5]

A silent disco took place in Melbourne, Australia during the 2008 comedy festival in the city.

A silent disco took place at Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tennessee in 2009.

A silent disco was also a 'stage' at the 2009 big day out. It will be in place of the previous year's Boiler Room tent.

Silent discos have taken place in Goa, India. Due to noise and party restrictions by local police in Goa, silent disco parties have becoming increasing in occurrence.

Silent disco/iPod FlashMob/Mobile Clubbing

A silent house party in San Francisco.

A variation on the structured silent disco first occurred on 17 September 2003, at Liverpool Street Station when a flash mob danced on the station platform while individuals listened to their separate portable audio player. Over the next five months there were a further five events at other London train stations including Waterloo, Charing Cross and London Bridge.[1]. By the end of 2008 there had been more than twenty of these events at similar venues throughout London, mostly train station concourses or other public spaces that lend themselves to expressive dancing and rapid dispersal. These include:

11 October 2006 at Liverpool Street station [6]

10 February 2007 from 6.42pm until around 7.42pm at Paddington station in London. About 250 people participated.[7]

A similar event occurred on 18 January 2007 in Bristol Square, Edinburgh, with over 300 people congregating at 10:30 pm to dance. Despite the cold weather, a large number of people stayed for several hours, dancing to their music. This event was organized through Facebook.

On Saturday 23 August 2008 from 1.00pm until 1.10pm the first annual silent rave took place at Vancouver Public Library.

Silent Disco has made its way to Saint Louis, Missouri.


  1. ^ a b Mobile Clubbing website retrieved on 28-2-09
  2. ^ "BBC Music Live events unfold". BBC News. 26 May 2000. Retrieved 2008-12-31.  
  3. ^ Stewart, Tim (2007-04-05). "4,000 flash mob dancers startle commuters at Victoria". Evening Standard.,000%20flash%20mob%20dancers%20startle%20commuters%20at%20Victoria/ Retrieved 2007-05-03.  
  4. ^ Glastonbury Festival, 2005. "Music festival introduces 'silent disco'."
  5. ^ "Disco Decibels Demolished: Williamsburg Insanity as Netherlanders Foist 'Quiet Disco' Euro-Plot!". The New York Observer. Retrieved 2009-05-24.  
  6. ^ iPod flashmobbers dance in their hundreds at station
  7. ^ February Paddington Silent Mob

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