It’s going to be that kind of party: People dancing and drinking and chatting and singing. But there will be no music blaring from towers of powerful speaker boxes. Instead, patrons at this party will be jamming tunes on headphones. And if they’re not digging one of the DJ’s selections, they can just click the headphones to hear what a different DJ is spinning.
It’s silent disco, and it’s been quietly raging in cities across the country for years. Now, a new company, Quiet Events, is opening an office in Austin and setting up “Quiet Clubbing” headphone parties. The New York-based outfit has set its Austin debut party for Saturday, Feb. 27, at The North Door.
If you see one person screaming and having a good time, you want to hear what they’re hearing.
Quiet Events launched in New York in 2012. Last year, they started partying in San Francisco. And, now, it’s going live in Austin and Los Angeles.
“Austin was perfect,” founder William Petz said. “It’s party central down there pretty much, and it has a good, young crowd that wants to do this.”
Petz said you almost have to experience it to understand it. But here’s how these events go down. When you enter the club, you get a pair of special headphones that can tune into up to three DJs. Typically, Quiet Events has DJs spinning top 40 music, hip-hop and throwback tunes from the 80s and 90s that are fun to sing along to. Partiers can bounce between the DJs selections, and their headphones light up with a colored light, indicating what channel they’re listening to.
“When you go in, there is no music on the speakers,” he said. “But everyone is singing and shouting and having a great time. You see a lot more people talking and conversations because it fosters a very social atmosphere.”
“When you have the headphones on, it does something to you,” Petz said. “Normally, in a club if there was five or six people, no one is dancing because it would be weird. But for some reason when people have the headphones on, four or five people will dance on the dance floor. And it’s normal. They don’t care. They feel like they’re almost invisible with headphones on.”
Petz said that the events go well at clubs, but they also target beer gardens. The beer gardens tend to have open space outdoors, and many more casual partiers enjoy a little more laid back vibe. In New York, their weekly events attract a couple thousand people.
Having multiple DJs creates some competition between DJs because they can see what people are listening to — and people tend to bounce back and forth a lot.
“Everyone switches between them,” he said. “It’s the fear missing out. If you see one person screaming and having a good time, you want to hear what they’re hearing.”
People can use the Quiet Events app to share photos and request that the DJs play particular genres of music, though not specific songs.
But, as you might expect, you have to check those headphones back in at the end of the night. If you keep them, the company charges your credit card $100.
Quiet Events also uses their headphone tech for comedy shows, giving people an option to switch between and listen to two comedians. And for cycling classes (switch between instructors); yoga classes (where people can practice together with different levels of instruction); outdoor movies and guided tours. Recently, the company started mobile parties where patrons go to different clubs and places, traveling together like a headphoned flash mob.
“It is a little weird for people who have never done it before,” Petz said. “But those that have continue to come back and are the first ones on the dance floor singing and dancing because they don’t care.”