Dancing to their own beat

By: Jeremy Campbell for myfoxtampabay.com

Published: Thursday, November 24 2011

‘Silent Disco’ craze comes to Ybor

TAMPA – It may sound like any night at the Ritz, but if you look closely, you’ll see something very different. Everyone’s in headphones and you can stop the music yourself.

“It’s just like going to a club, but then you take off the headphones and you’re like, hey, it’s dead silent and you see people dancing to nothing,” said Mitch Heirholzer.

Wireless headphones are the must-have accessory at the Silent Disco. They’re included with the cover charge, and they’re the lifeline of the show.

“Max out the headphones. Let’s get this party started,” said Rob Robinson.

Silent Disco is all about the headset. You take it off and the music stops. It’s quiet. You put it back on and the beat goes on.

“Once you put the headphones on, you definitely feel a good connection with everything that’s going on,” explained DJ Wick-It the Instigator.

Like all good parties, the Silent Disco was born underground, off the radar, as an auditory speak-easy of sorts in Europe.

“The story goes that these guys were throwing a party in a wildlife refuge and they were allowed to do it except they couldn’t make noise after 9, so they bought 20 wireless headphones and held their very first Silent Disco,” said promoter Ryan Dowd.

It really is silent on the dance floor.

“It’s pretty awesome all the people dancing to no music outside the headphones. I like weird and awkward so [it’s not weird] for me. But yeah, it’s kind of weird,” said Jessica Collard.

Also it’s kind of multi-media. Some shows feature three DJs at once. Each blasts on a different channel, offering a choice for the iPhone generation.

“People want to go to a club or a live show and say I don’t want to listen to that music right now and change it on their headset live and listen to something totally different,” said Dowd.

Or you can just talk.

“It’s nice; you can actually carry out a conversation,” said Kelli Crangi.

“It’s hard to figure out how to interact with people because normally you just hear the music blasting, you bump up to somebody,” Heirholzer said.

The Silent Disco is now on tour with stops everywhere from Atlanta to Maui to the Bonnaroo Music Festival.

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