To the outside observer, watching a group of people dance wildly to the music in their headphones might make you scratch your head at first. You really can’t knock it until you’ve tried it, however, and the success of Philly’s own “silent” party series, Silent Philly, shows that this trend is here to stay. Launched just a year ago, the company has multiple parties a month locally and is starting to branch out to new markets like Chicago. We chatted with its president, Eddie Ross, about how a silent party works and why they can be more appealing than a traditional noisy night out.
The concept of a silent party might be hard for some to grasp. Can you explain what it is?
Picture a regular night out. You go to a bar or a club with your group of friends and you hear one DJ playing one type of music. Someone in your group is going to be happy but maybe not everyone's happy [with the music]. At a Silent Party, everyone’s happy and in the same place because you get to pick between three different DJs. If you wanted to stick to the hip-hop station, you put on your headphones and listen to that. If one of your friends liked music from the '80s, '90s or 2000s, we have a station for that, too.
Can I switch stations once I pick one?
You can flip through each station throughout the whole night, so it’s a constant surprise of who’s playing what as you see the headphones glowing different colors.
What do the colors represent?
Each of the three stations corresponds to the color. If your headphones are blue, you’re listening to hip-hop. If they’re red, you’re listening to the '80s, '90s, 2000s station. If they’re green, you’re listening to Top 40 and EDM. That switches sometimes when we do special events which may be a Latin night or a reggae night.
I read that there’s a DJ competition component to these parties. What’s that about?
With the three stations, we have three different DJs and they’re lined up next to each other on a stage. The DJ can see the crowd so they know who’s playing a really good song, who’s playing something different that the crowd may not be feeling by how many headphones are on their color. So they each play within their genre of music. It’s a competition between themselves and against their own DJ skills to make sure they’re doing the best set they can and trying to give the crowd an awesome party.
Do you think silent parties make people more sociable or less sociable?
You actually have the opportunity to be both, which I’m in favor of. There’s sometimes you may go to a party and you want to be a social butterfly and go out and make friends and all of that or you may want to go out and just have a drink and be to yourself and relax after work, with our party you can really do both.
I didn’t think of it that way before.
Compare it to a regular bar. It’s really hard to talk to somebody and get to know them more because the music is pounding. At our parties, all you have to do is take the headphones off and it’s quiet. You can have a conversation at the volume we're having right now so it’s really easy to do that. But also if you don’t want to have a conversation, you can leave your headphones on and you’re in your own world.
If you go:
1 Year Anniversary Party
1001 N. Second St.
Friday, Sept. 30
7 p.m., $15