Salt Spring venues tune in to silent disco craze

Indoor and outdoor events happening this weekend

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Recent visitors to Salt Spring’s parks, the Saturday Market or nightlife spots may have noticed the odd phenomenon of groups of people seemingly dancing for no reason, or at least with no connection.

In actual fact, the individuals in these groups are unified by music. It’s just that only those wearing the special wireless headphones can hear it. And with the silent disco craze ready to hit the island at full volume, more and more people will likely be tuning in.

Salt Springers can participate in the newest dance craze thanks to entrepreneur Lara Gordon, who moved to the island two months ago and has already put an intensive schedule of events into action with her company Dreamland Silent Disco. She started offering sessions in the gazebo at Centennial Park in mid-April and will be carrying on through much of the summer on a pay-as-you-wish trial basis. This coming weekend Dreamland will also offer two bigger events featuring ex-islander Daniel Trump at the DJ table: Moby’s Friday night and outside at Mouat Park on Saturday night.

While it may seem that putting on headphones to dance would stifle the social aspect, producing a room full of bodies isolated in their own little worlds, Gordon said that’s not the case.

“On one hand it’s more private, but on the other hand it’s actually more communal because if you want to have a conversation with someone, you just take the headphones off and there’s no music blasting,” Gordon said, adding she usually finds 75 per cent of the room will be dancing but the other 25 per cent will be in a circle talking and enjoying the scene.

Gordon first encountered silent disco herself in Boston, where she was living for several years. The party was silent only in terms of the music broadcast. People were singing along, laughing, hooting, dancing and sweating.

At the time, Gordon was creating pop-up craft markets but wanted to get out of the retail business. When she decided to make a change she invested in 200 pairs of wireless headphones, a disco ball and some lights and formed the new business. She brought Dreamland Silent Disco with her when she moved to the coast this year, and to Salt Spring when she arrived here two months ago.

Oxford’s online dictionary, which added the term in 2011, defines silent disco as “an event at which people dance to music that is transmitted through wireless headphones rather than played over a speaker system.” This is a real benefit in rural settings and anywhere noise bylaws are enforced. (Dreamland’s tagline is “Rock the party. Not your neighbours.”) But even without any noise-related concerns, silent discos are proving to be a hit with dancers of all ages. Something about putting the headphones on allows people to lose their inhibitions on the dance floor despite the fact that external sound, rather than sight, has been curtailed.

People on the dance floor are also interacting with each other, even though some may be listening to different music. To see who’s on the same vibe, the headphones emit LED lights in three different colours to indicate which channel the listener is on. At Gordon’ parties, one station is usually for the live DJ, one is for pre-programmed electronic dance music and another has a “throw-back” station.

The silent disco can be enjoyed indoors, but there is no need to keep it there. Gordon’s real dream for the company is to have dance events outside in the trees. Her first set-up at Mouat Park will take place this Saturday starting at 8 p.m., and will see the entry to the disc golf course lit up and decorated. People of all ages are welcome, from kids to grandparents.

Gordon is also looking for DJs and collaborators for other outdoor projects that could take place during daylight hours. She envisions mountain hikes that end with sound baths, guided mediations and yoga — basically anyone who wants to take their activity outside and have a sound component. Private events and rentals are also available.

See the Dreamland Silent Disco & Social Club on Facebook for this weekend’s event dates and details, or visit the website dreamlandsilentdisco.com or the Instagram page.

For more on this story, see the May 1, 2019 issue of the Gulf Islands Driftwood newspaper, or subscribe online.

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