Where rhythm is a dancer (and free)

Bristol's Silent free disco

When I first saw a guy dancing on his own and a rack of day-glow headphones, my knee-jerk reaction was to keep going. It was the end of the day, I was hungry and wanted to get home. But he was really dancing. Not paying attention to anyone, just dancing. I know silent discos from clubs and festivals, but in the street? For free? So I stopped. After 5 minutes, it was obvious that this guy was actually giving a very valuable freebie.

It's not like listening to your playlist on your headphones as you go about your business. The Free Silent Disco is for the public and in public, so anyone and everyone is welcome to have a go. You have control of the volume, and you can chose between a fast, slow or a medium channel, but really the music's in charge. It felt a bit like standing at a bus stop, but everyone was laughing, dancing or just enjoying being there. And best of all, people come and go but one guy keeps on dancing...

I got in touch with the creator and maker, Naren Wilks, to find out more about it. Here's what he told me:

"The idea emerged from a desire to dance on my own terms: sober, during the day, and outside in a public space; essentially the opposite of a nightclub experience! Convincing others to take part seemed like a fun challenge, but I wasn't at all confident it would work, however to my surprise people seemed to absolutely love it, and the focus of the idea shifted to a much more inclusive one, a 'free silent disco' for anyone to join!"

"The disco has evolved a lot over its two-year life, in seeking to make it as intuitive and friendly as possible, it's been through various setups. The challenge is in convincing people who just happen to be passing to stop and have a go, people need encouragement but not too much; location and timing seem to be important too. During the first few silent discos whole hours could pass with only me dancing, but it seems to be reliably popular now that I've figured it all out."

"From the people who actually get stuck in, to the people who simply stop to observe the comedic spectacle, the response has been perfect! I'm so glad it's worked out, and that people 'get it'. Everyone has been so supportive and encouraging."

"I love watching people responding to the faster channel, for a lot of them it's their first experience of Hardtek, and it can inspire some pretty wild moves! I also love seeing complete strangers dancing together in an unlikely setting, it's an improbable combination which never fails to make people laugh. It's very weather-dependent, but I'll try and do at least one per week over the winter, and many more during the summer." - Naren Wilks.

The Free Silent Disco doesn't have a set day, time or place so for updates on future discos follow it on Facebook: https://en-gb.facebook.com/freesilentdisco/ or message 07791477802 to be added to the text-message-notifications-list. You can listen to a taster of the tracks here if you don't like surprises!

But if you see this - stop and have a go!


Everyone's got a song that they like to amplify to 11. Donna Summer's 'I feel love' is one of mine. Click to listen on You Tube to have yourself a little disco.

"One day in Berlin ... Eno came running in and said, "I have heard the sound of the future." ... he puts on "I Feel Love," by Donna Summer ... He said, "This is it, look no further. This single is going to change the sound of club music for the next fifteen years." Which was more or less right." ~ David Bowie (1977)

#music #FreeSilentDisco

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