Beckoned by the alluring movements of a diverse pack of fenced in dancers, I wandered my way up past the Hardly Strictly festival crowds into a eucalyptus grove lending its shade to the HUSH Silent Disco. With bluegrass at full swing below us, we slapped on luxurious headphones and stepped into a different world reminiscent of some futuristic science fiction film. Like clockwork, festivIMG_0226al goers similarly were transformed from mere folk spectators into aggressively enthused dancers.

Silent discos became popular in Europe in the early 2000s, but it wasn’t until Robbie Kowal started Silent Frisco, now HUSH, that said quiet dance parties started to be received with a shimmying embrace by young and old alike in the States, according to DJ Uplift.

The way it workIMG_0210s: Up to three DJ’s spin, headphones bump through a non-disrupted registered FM band, disco goers dance, switch between channels and control volume to their liking. Otolaryngologists and neighbors approve.

DJ Uplift rejoices over the solution to the long-felt problem of the inevitable noise ordinance that ends any good forest rave. Some obvious benefits: longer parties, sleep for those who are into that sort of thing.

Uplift has discovered why Silent Discos are so unique. “It’s a different connection

[with the crowd]. People listen more closely because when they have the headphones on they don’t hear other people talking… it’s very focused listening. You don’t get the kinda in and out listening when people have a conversation and so it takes away this background element. You’re either listening or you’re not with the headphones. You hear a stereo feed in a much more clear, predictable way than with stacks.”IMG_0273

The downside, no more bass vibrations running through chests unifying the masses into a single pulsing entity. The tradeoff, a personal connection to the music and a healthy set of vocal chords.

So just how far will this trend go? Uplift touches on the possibilities. “There isn’t really a norm yet. There’s day time things with kids, there’s late night festivals with crazy festival kids, there’s yoga events where it’s quiet and peaceful and all-ages. More than a genre, it’s a medium that you can apply to whatever you’ve got going.”

Uplift comments on what he’d like to see in the future: “I’d like to see this continued influence of people both playing old music and sampling new music in this new harmonious way. There’s a lot of people playing great covers of old songs here [at Hardly Strictly]. It’s neat to add this other layer of sampling which kids are into.”

You can latch on to this growing movement of silent dancers around the Bay Area here.