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Vancouver dance train party to draw thousands

A social-networking experiment will culminate next weekend in what could be Vancouver's dance party of the year.

What started out as a boring night at home on Facebook for 18-year-old Ariel Buxton has erupted into a social-networking experiment that will culminate next weekend in what could be Vancouver's dance party of the year.

While killing time online, Buxton stumbled upon a video of a "silent "subway dance party in Toronto last year.

In the video, uploaded to YouTube last February, party goers break into dance one by one to the music of their own iPods and MP3 players as confused riders look on.

"I posted the video on my Facebook, sharing the wondrous idea with a few friends," Buxton explained. "The rest, as they say, is history."

Buxton created her own Facebook event with the hopes of bringing a similar dance-a-thon to British Columbia.

But she never envisioned her idea for the Feb. 21 SkyTrain bash would take off quite like it has. The guest list now runs into the thousands.

"When I made the event I thought maybe one hundred would be invited, tops," she said.

"Never had I imagined more than 3,000 people. I guess I never took into consideration the domino effect. I invite 50 friends, the 30 who accept invite 50 of their friends and so on and so forth."

Participants must come armed with their own MP3 player and headphones. They're free to choose their own music, so long as no one else can hear it.

Dancers will assemble at the Vancouver Art Gallery and split into groups, with each clan getting on a separate train.

Revellers are forbidden from speaking to each other once they enter the SkyTrain area.

"No one knows each other," Buxton said.

Once all the party goers are on board, a chosen few will Vogue, Robot, or perhaps even Pop-and-lock to kick things off.

Then it's up to fellow dancers to join in, each dancing to the beat of their own drum, so to speak.

The event has exploded so quickly on the social-networking site that it's even caught the attention of B.C. transit officials.

"Usually in these kinds of situations, they'd like it to be a surprise. But obviously the Internet, and things like Twitter and Facebook makes it harder and harder to surprise us with these events," said SkyTrain spokeswoman Jennifer Siddon.

"The event isn't sanctioned by us, so to speak, but we're always open to facilitating something where people are trying to connect with the community and want to use SkyTrain for that purpose," she said.

Buxton said she's been contacted by SkyTrain officials and has been asked to remind participants of safety precautions, like limiting alcohol consumption, jumping and holding doors open.

"Just the basic common sense," she said.

But she's very much aware that an event such as this can attract the attention of those who are lacking such virtue.

"It would be extremely naive of me to think only the neatest, kindest people would be coming," she said.

"Alas, I expect a few bad apples, but the worst thing they could do is mosh to their own music, while completely intoxicated. And if that happens, I'm sure ... that person would be kicked off at the next stop."

Transit police spokesman Tom Seaman said since the event is on a Saturday, there will likely be a large contingent of officers on duty.

He said the dance party won't draw as many people and won't be on the same calibre a concert or hockey game.

But if something goes wrong?

"We'll be able to respond to that no problem if that's the case," Seaman said.

"Some of these larger groups, sometimes there's no problem whatsoever. It all depends on who shows up, what type of behaviour they want to engage in."

Buxton doesn't yet know what music she'll be listening to as the train begins its journey next Saturday night.

"I have debated dancing to artists like Gogol Bordello, The Flaming Lips and The Misfits. But then I hear Beethoven and Chopin and wonder if I could pull it off."

She said she'll probably do what she always does, put her music on shuffle and hope for the best.

"I'm not much of a talented dancer so it'll most likely be embarrassingly fun."

 
 
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