If a record plays in a club and nobody’s around to hear it, does it make a sound? Lying somewhere between concept art and genius marketing gimmick, Ssshh Disco is the first silent disco to come to the UAE.
The principle is simple: roll up to the club and instead of being given a stamp on the hand you’ll be given a pair of radio headphones. These can be tuned into one of the two DJs in the booth. Turn the dial one way and you might be listening to soulful house. Turn it the other way and it could be indie.
So you can keep an eye on your fellow dancers to see who’s listening to ‘your’ station, or you can wander off to the side, take off your ’phones and marvel at the sight of people apparently dancing to nothing.
If we were a pretentious magazine, we’d talk about how this deconstructs traditional clubbing elements and calls into question the concept of a club as a physical space, as opposed to an atmosphere ignited by shared music and interests. But we’re not, so instead we’ll say that it sounds totally awesome and we want a go right now.
Of course, the cleverest thing about all of this is that aside from the sound of people stomping their feet, there’s pretty much no noise pollution at all. Which means that any public space can be turned into a silent disco. And that’s why, for the first month of its life at least, Ssshh Disco is going to nomadically roam the highways of Dubai. Kind of. The first event, on October 31, will be held at Layali Tent, Mina A’Salam; the second will be held at Sho Cho and the third and fourth will be held at the Dubai International Rugby Sevens. So if you get sick of rugby balls, you can grab a glitterball instead.
And how did all this come about? Ah, that’s our favourite part of the tale – eco-activists in the ’90s wanted to disrupt heavy logging without disrupting the wildlife. The best way to do this, they reasoned, was get as many people into the forest as possible. And the best way to do that was to throw a party. Thus, the silent discos were created, allowing people to dance the night away without upsetting woodland critters. The fact that an idealistic, green-loving hippie danceathon has been co-opted for use in a city where every third car is the size of the Titanic is one of our favourite ironies ever.
Don’t let that put you off, though – this should be a seriously fun event. As the organisers say, ‘Turn up, tune in and freak out.’ And don’t be afraid to sing along – nobody can hear you.