LarkFest silent disco

This could be fun/odd: this year's LarkFest will include a "silent disco." From one of the organizers:

We will be closing off Hudson [Ave] near Washington Park and throwing Albany's first Silent Disco.
Each patron will be given a wireless headset. 2 DJs will broadcast their music over the airwaves and the party goers will be able to choose which one they listen to.

Here's the Facebook event page.

Googling around a bit, it looks there have been such quiet get downs in a bunch of places (the UK, especially) and music festivals (including Camp Bisco).

[via @PatrickDodson]


I've danced these silent parties at Burning Man. It's so much fun! You really are in the party when you put on the headphones, and everyone else around you is oblivious to your experience.

Yes! Good to see a Burning Man reference on the site.

One of these silent parties also figures into Jonathan Lethem's novel "You Don't Love Me Yet."

Hi guys! Tragically unhip guy here with a genuine question:


I get dancing. I go dancing every couple weeks or so. But why a silent disco? If the appeal is that people are oblivious to your experience, why not just listen to your iPod there or at home? If you want to be seen dancing, why not have a not-silent disco?

Where's Hudson Street? :)

Cool! Nice to see things like this @ LF

@KM: One appeal, especially for the discos neighbors, like me, is that it doesn't bother others!

@Geriw: Click here to view a map. I believe the dance will be held between Willett and Lark. (pssst... it's actually Hudson Ave., not Street, which will confuse a map search)

Editors: Thanks for catching that. The blurb has been edited.

The whole appeal to the silent disco is that it will does not create any sound. LarkFEST is a huge festival with a main stage. Having a 'silent' side stage does not interfere with the main stage. Also, since there is no sound, the silent disco can be occur places where a normal sound stage would cause neighborhood complaints. Should be an exciting and refreshing addition to the festival.

So, I get the appeal to the neighbors, and it's kind of cool to feel a part of this inclusive party, but what's the deal with the 2 DJs. You can choose which one you want to listen to? So, half the people will be dancing to one beat, and half to a different beat? That seems like it could result in catastrophe! (or at least a very random scene for any onlookers)

@Don. Meh. I'm with KM on this one, it's gimmicky. LarkFEST is not *that* huge, there is barely any interference between the different stages, you can enjoy both shows at each end of Lark St, even the smaller stages in the middle. I think the neighborhood is ready for it every year: either you leave town, or you try to enjoy the show. The main stage is half a block from my house, I can't wait :)

I suppose we could have set up a DJ with a sound system. But you have to remember this is Albany and it is completely dominated by pop/top40/hip hop music in clubs.
In order to do a normal sound stage, we would have probably had to cater to that crowd.
That's not what the Silent Disco is about.
We are using this opportunity to promote the growing Electronic Music scene in the Capital District.
We always strive to bring something unique to the area as opposed to the same old thing that happens every weekend.

I think this sounds like fun!

Has anyone been to a silent disco/show before who can give us some real commentary?

Really, I'm not saying this just because he's my boss, but DJ Milkdud is a _killer_ drum 'n bass / jungle DJ. His live sets are chaos at its highest of heights.

I hope these wireless headphones have some BASS, because for this music, BASS is key!


i'm not really sure how this whole thing is gonna work, but hey any exposure for electronic music in albany is a great thing. we have done stages for larkfest in the past with mixed reviews. many years it just ends up being on someone's front steps. big ups to don and nicole for doing something out of the norm, it may bring more people in to just say they participated.

I suppose you will have to pay for the headset (purchase or rental). Compared to the free soundstage..... No contest. But, I'll probably stick around and watch geeky looking people with headsets dancing to music I don't hear. Hope I see an Elaine Benes there.

> hey any exposure for electronic music in albany is a great thing.

I don't know about that. I feel once again that we have to hide or look like weirdos enjoying a genre that has been around for a long long time now. To add insult to injury, this is just a year after Moby took the main stage, a guy who started on the electronica scene back in the days. What gives? So yeah, I may sound unhip too, but come on, this is neither original nor progressive, it's just reinforcing old stereotypes.

I enjoyed reading this thread of comments and questions.
I have lots of experience speaking to the points you all bring up so I figured I'd chime in! Disclaimer: my company actually provided the silent disco equipment for this event.

Why silent disco? There are several reasons. To begin, you get crisp quality sound directly in your ears no matter where you are dancing - whether you are right in front of the DJ (where the speakers would be) or in line for the restroom - the music doesn't stop or get quiet or distorted and the transmission range on our equipment is approximately 300 meters. There's also a volume control and mute button.

There's no screaming over the music (unless you want to). You can take off your headphones to have a normal conversation without losing your voice or going deaf.

There's an optional second channel so you can switch between music if you don't like a particular song. This feature also allows to bring groups of people together that wouldn't normally be seen in the same music venue. Electro music enthusiasts on channel A and top 40 heads on Channel B. Different music at the same venue, to the same group of people, at the same time. Could become a bit of a social experiment, but truly unites people through the power of music.

Speaking of unity, silent disco really does unite people. When you take off your headphones, the scene is a bit of a trip. You are quickly reminded of how you felt when you saw a group of people dancing in silence for the first time. It's amusing and draws attention through curiosity. When you put the headphones back on, you're back in the party and anyone who doesn't have the headsets on, just doesn't really get it until they join in!

You can forget about noise regulations and amplified sound ordinances. This pretty much speaks for itself. Especially if you have sensitive neighbors. Or in the example of LarkFEST, there's no worry about sound interference with the main stage.

Although nothing will truly replace an incredible traditional sound system that shakes your soul, there's something really incredible about experiencing music through headphones. We're all used to doing this on our own, but with silent disco its possible to do it with a group of people. Headphones are used when we're by ourselves and this is the element that people are most skeptical to. But from lots of personal experience, every skeptic who is open minded and tries silent disco is always pleasantly surprised. I was a skeptic once too.

Were any of you able to try the silent disco at LarkFest? What'd you think?

George G.
Co-Founder, Silent Storm Sound System

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