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Headphones at the Disco: Silent Dance in the Pause

Lucy Woods - Headphone Disco

On Saturday, March 18, during St. Patrick’s day weekend, the St. Olaf Programming Board held a silent disco at the Pause. To those not in the know, silent discos are dances in which the participants wear headphones instead of having music played aloud. An outside company provided all the needed equipment, and two DJs the students could choose between. This combination of personalization and a high energy atmosphere have led to a successful  event  from the point of view of programmers and attendees. One of these attendees, Lucy Chambers ’24 said, “It was different from other dances because it gave me personal agency and the ability to tailor my experience to what I needed in the moment. I could take a break from dancing or listening to the music whenever. It was nice to be able to switch songs if one channel wasn’t really the vibe.” 

Attendee Emma Silvestri ’24 said, “This event was different from other dances I’ve been to because it took out so many of the overstimulating aspects of a typical Pause dance.”

Chambers and Sivlestri point towards the event not only being  generally enjoyable and something better than Pause dances. In many ways, this event addressed many of the issues that plagued the Pause dances in the last few years. Greater individual control over one’s choice in music seems to be greatly appreciated. Furthermore, the less intense atmosphere is a distinct change from the loud, crowded and often chaotic Pause dances leading to unsafe behavior. This had been, for the last two years, a significant concern both for student programmers in Programming Board’s Late Night section and especially for Pause staff who voiced concerns about general public safety as well as their  previous dances. This movement toward a more safe and tailored experience has not come at a significant cost to student enjoyment seemingly. Still this does not mean that it is without some negative aspects. Cost has been the main factor stopping a silent disco in previous years given its price tag from outside contractors in comparison to the relatively lower cost Pause Dances. Nonetheless, with its initial success this premium may be worth it to all those involved. 

Overall, with such a great outcome from this St. Patrick’s day weekend event, perhaps these silent discos may play a role in the future of student programming. Given this opportunity, St. Olaf may see a new tradition replace Pause Dances that better reflects the desires of attendees, programmers, and student workers in the near future.