The authors of this article entered Goodrich holding fresh blueberry Toaster Strudel. Spirits were high, due to the blueberry strudel, but expectations for the silent disco were low – incredibly low, in fact. At a silent disco, people dance
to music transmitted to their own personal set of headphones by a radio, often with two channels and DJs competing for listeners. Unsure of the silent disco dress code, our crew’s attire ranged from lax pinnie and bathrobe to a devastatingly handsome navy blue suit. Upon arrival we got our headphones, gave up our I.D. cards, and walked into Goodrich.
We were exceedingly self-conscious, especially of our fingers, which were covered with Toaster Strudel frosting. But it was irrelevant because both of the authors were way too freaked out by the social awkwardness to even think of touching anyone. This wasn’t ideal for a dance.
So we sat for a while on the stage making observations about that awkward couple that shows up every dance way too early and then makes out the whole time. You know who you are. Stop doing that. All we could hear with our headphones off were the sounds of the occasional kid trying to sing the lyrics of random songs, lyrics that they didn’t know. We sometimes heard the lyrics of two different songs at once. All of this mayhem was occurring under the light of the most baffling video projected on the wall. This video looked like a Japanese toothpaste commercial. It was whack.
But for the sake of social inquiry, we decided to stick it out. And we were glad that we did. The silent disco turned out to be worthwhile, despite our initial disdain. It was the type of thing you never want to admit to your friends was anything but a mistake, but you’re already eager to do it again.
The key is to never take the headphones off. Buy wholesale into the fiction that you are at a sick party and, suddenly, you are having a sick party. NEVER TAKE THE HEADPHONES OFF. Take the headphones off and the dismal reality of Goodrich all comes crashing down, which initially rattled the authors, so we kept the headphones on at all times. This meant it was impossible to talk to each other, other than by hand gestures. Once we eventually managed to suspend our feelings of awkwardness, we became immersed in the experience.
The experience was one of dancing alone, but with other people. The headphones are isolating enough that you have no other option than to dance in your own individual world. So as a group of three solo guys, one in a bathrobe, one in a suit, and all sporting thick mustaches, we solo danced. It was liberating and free form and fun. You
could change channels on the headphones to find your jam and just go at it.
The music was a classic blend of party jams, with two channels pumping out thumping bass-driven club bangers, a musical selection that seemed to please the crowd. As John Sanderson ’14 put it, “These beats are the center of the sun, molten lava, towering inferno fire flames hot. Name another college that has a silent disco with beats this hot. You can’t.”
There was much less grinding there than at a normal Goodrich event. Also the headphones do create a very individual experience, but and the inability to talk makes it awkward to approach someone. While this ameliorates the typical inhibitions of dancing itself, it does not necessarily work for meeting girls.
The authors discussed grinding with a girl, for the sake of the article (and for science!), and because we like girls, but were ultimately too afraid to take the plunge. Also, our hands were still pretty sticky from Toaster Strudel frosting because someone got a little gluttonous and iced both sides of the strudel. Strudel hands make for awkward dancing. Our bathrobed companion was accosted by a drunk girl visiting campus, but since he had a girlfriend, he swiftly (and, in the spirit of the silent disco, silently) disentangled himself.
Eventually we made the mistake of going to the bathroom. We took our headphones off and, when we came back, found we could not get back into the magic of the silent disco afterwards. The inertia of awkwardness took over us, and we quickly decided it was time to go home, order Dominos and watch Jurassic Park.
Ultimately, the silent disco was far and away the dark horse winner of the most enjoyable campus event of the year (all three weeks of it so far). Katheryn Dryer ’14 said it was the best party she’s been to in the last two years. Dryer apparently doesn’t get out much, but we agree with her that the silent disco was inarguably a good time and worth repeating. Maybe, as we get used to the suspension of social awkwardness that the silent disco requires, the experience will start to be less baffling. Personally, these authors doubt that; but it is possible we are just getting too old for all the weird stuff that the young kids are into these days.
Shout out to the girl who grabbed my hand as I was walking out the door. You looked great. I should have tried to dance with you—headphone awkwardness and strudel hands be damned.