Story by: Kate Goldstein and Ellie Olsztynski
Tag-a-long: Mason Cutner
Photography by: Kelton Woodburn
A Silent Disco is an innovative idea of clubbing where music is only heard through a set of personal wireless headphones. Party-goers each receive a pair upon entry, and can switch between two different stations with multiple live DJ’s broadcasting house, electro, dub step, and more. Need to order a drink or speak to a friend? Simply remove the headphones! This event promises to be a unique and memorable experience for all who attend. Tickets $10 pre-sold, $15 at door.
In this age, we have an abundance of choice made possible by modern technology. What movie do you want to watch? The possibilities are endless with Netflix. Hungry? Just Google “local sandwich shops” and a myriad of delis will give you more hot pastrami varieties than our forefathers could have ever dreamt up. So why not transform a typical loud noisy club scene into a party of options.
On a late Saturday night, three of us entered a world unfamiliar to groovy Soulsters like ourselves…the world of Sharkeez Bar in downtown Santa Barbara. Upon arrival we noticed we could actually hear the bouncer, and realized then that this night was going to be a different kind of ‘clubbing’ experience.
Silent Events’ first local disco was officially underway, with over 200 in attendance. Local entrepreneur Ray Collins, the event’s mastermind, brought it all together . He experienced Silent Discos at Coachella and Treasure Island festivals and then saw Europe catching on to the craze. Instead of starting a company that would have been direct competition, he decided to expand Silent Events to California. This event felt like the beginning of something magical for Ray, who has roots with local collectives and has experience throwing mountain parties.
The bouncer, who was encouraged to be lenient with cover charges at the door, took our IDs for collateral and were handed 3 sets of brand-spankin’-new headphones. Once we put on the headphones, BOOM, an insta-party in our ears (And maybe in Mason’s pants a little bit- the music was just that good).
Wanting to really capture this event, we each took voice notes during the event. It made for funny transcribing the next morning- it sounded like Kate was talking very excitedly in an empty room. Yet, she was standing in the middle of the dance floor, and right in front of the DJ who was throwing down devastating beats. We found ourselves enjoying the laughter and shouts of praise to the DJs, which you cannot hear at a typical “Disco.” There is something revolutionary about standing directly in front of a DJ booth and talking to people in a normal voice.
We all agreed the sound coming out of these headphones was amazing.
Unfortunately, even the smartest of our smart phone camera modes could not capture the vibe due to a lack of poor dance floor visibility. The copious amounts of fog from the fog machine rolled-in. We all agreed that art installations, the great outdoors, LED’s and lasers would be optimal ingredients for the next Silent Event.
In the bathroom, a friend swaps headphones with Kate and says “you should come to my party.” Low and behold there are 2 stations to choose from… one playing the House DJ and the other playing the Guest DJ. The House DJ spins tracks geared toward the State Street Crowd, and the Guest DJ plays more underground and soulful beats. After discovering Channel B, our world transformed into a new and funkier party. Now we understood why people around us seemed to be dancing to a different track.
Rene Lomeli was spinning that night. At first he struggled to differentiate between who was dancing to his track and who was dancing to the House DJ, creating a new challenge for DJs that forces them to expand their practice of ‘reading’ the crowd. Rene dominated, won listeners, and by the end of his set, he knew exactly where his crowd was at.
DJ Level is no ‘top 40’ DJ, so posers beware. He’s been spinning for years, and belongs with a roots music community here in Santa Barbara. Struck by the constant smiles on the dance floor, DJ Level liked that “music was the #1 main focus.” Furthermore, he pointed out that at a Silent Disco, the music has to be good. We like that too, DJ Level. We like that, too. Thank you for your smiles and energy.
So, it’s true that many bars and clubs have multiple rooms with multiple DJs and bands. We all know how it feels to walk from room to room and be inundated with sound.
However, we are also familiar with those evenings spent dancing and drinking where we end up unfulfilled because the conversations with our friends were sparse. After all, it’s hard to have meaningful conversations about how to change the world (which we all regularly have on weekend evenings in this socially conscious community) with a sub-woofer blaring behind your head.
The Silent Disco offers a solution. You can chat up that sassy beauty in the corner without having to scream. If you’re the sassy beauty in the corner being chatted up by someone you don’t want to talk to, then no worries…just put your headphones on and turn the volume up; it’s not your fault that you can’t hear him. And if you want to discuss how to solve world hunger, you can do that to.
We truly love the option to be (or not be) inundated with loud music.
The Silent Disco allows for the freedom and choices to which we’ve become accustomed. But locale is key! While the scene on Saturday night slightly masked the typical Sharkeez ambiance, we still felt the sports bar energy around us. The potential for a groovy, local following exists only if these events are held at more appropriate venues. We fear the Silent Disco will not attract its eco-artsy/raver/hippie-sheik supporters into a college or theme bar. This revolutionary scene demands a more mucic-centered site like Velvet Jones, SoHo, or even better, an outdoor festival or party. Silent Discos have been at festivals for years, but Santa Barbara is only now exploring possibilities of having these surprisingly fun events.
Our brains are wired for these Silent Events. We spend all day going between work and play with profound speed, why not switch between dancing and a quiet conversation within seconds?
It’s right in alignment with the changing times. Stateside approved.
If you want to contact Ray Collins about throwing a Silent Event, you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org