I constantly hear comments after our gigs to the effect of “that was the best time I’ve had this year”, “my face hurts from smiling”, and even, “that was the best thing I have EVER done!”… often said through recovering breath and sweaty hair.
As performers we can forget how radical it is for most people to express themselves creatively in public. Our Silent Disco Walking Tours have accidentally hit on a magical formula that has it all: physical activity, site-specific interactivity, group bonding and for those who want it – disco exhibitionism!
This edge is exactly what I enjoy about our work. The audience is blurred with the participants, who are all wearing headphones and listening to the same music and commentary simultaneously. Of course, the outside world can’t hear it, but they can see and viscerally feel the waves of groove and energy pulsating through the group.
There is something tribal about the how our biology wants to fit in with others who are also feeling similar exulted states at the same time.
In the pre-modern era, villagers of small towns had regular community dance and ritual practices where it was commonplace to share passion, grief, celebration or the seasons in unity. I love the realisation that our work brings a taste of this into the lives of urban people who are now conditioned to living as separate, proud entities, usually specialising in a particular profession or life-skill.
There is something about “daggy dancing” in public that is a social leveller … and it doesn’t require alcohol! People get intoxicated from the life-affirming music and the energy of being at one with each other, and the absurdity and intimacy of the moment that is created.
I founded this medium in late 2012 just after my father passed away. He was passionate about technology and music, so I do wonder if he passed on some inspiration, as this form is very much an artistic blend of these two animals.
Silent Disco had already been around for a few years, and I thought it would be great idea to take it to the streets with a sprinkling of commentary, comedy and choreography. It’s part dance workshop, walking tour, laughter yoga, comedy show, clowning and exercise. It ticks so many boxes.
I came from a facilitation background as well as movement improvisation.
An important component of the work for me is to give permission for people to be themselves. As hosts we certainly invite playful behaviour, however we are careful to let people discover the joy for themselves and find their ownership of it.
Our audiences have a natural selection process, whereby the more extroverted people find their way to the front, and less extroverted can hide behind others to whatever extent they feel comfortable. Everyone ends up enjoying the ride as there are so many layers to take part in.
We naturally attracted a more female-skewed audience as it seems many women ‘get it’ straight away. One of my favourite delights is watching reluctant men getting dragged along by friends or partners, and then suddenly after a song or two they are completely loving it, and often end up being the most extroverted of the whole group!