Silent Rave Takes Over NYC Park

In April, Wesson planned New York's first silent rave, and 2,000 people showed up. But even that turnout paled in comparison to a 2006 event at London's Paddington Station, when 3,500 people arrived to rave at the height of the evening rush hour.

Though Wesson's Union Square party had far fewer people, the student said he was happy people were having a good time in the city he's come to love while studying as a foreign exchange student the last seven months.

"It's a lovely farewell to a lovely city," said Wesson, who heads back to England next week. "The last silent rave I did as sort of a thank-you to New York."

Party Like a Rock Star in the Park

"The only point of the silent rave is to have fun," said Wesson, while listening to Klaxon's "Gravity's Rainbow." "That's why they are so appealing."

Wesson said he is self-conscious about his dancing, but when he attends silent raves, they allow him to let loose.

But that wasn't true for all of us.

Personally, while I'm more than happy to bounce around to my iPod, without worry of what others are thinking, on my daily, hour-long commute into work, I could only manage a two-step to the songs my music player randomly tapped and fell far short of my goal to "party like a rock star" with the Shop Boyz.

My insecurities seemed a little ridiculous when I noticed an elderly Asian couple sharing an iPod and carelessly dancing the evening away without worry.

What's on Your Playlist?

Many dancers said they'd chosen up-tempo dance or techno music.

"It's nice because this is something people usually do in front of their mirrors at home," said 26-year-old blogger Gen DiNapoli, a first-time attendee who learned about the event in a newspaper

She created a playlist with 13 songs of her favorite music, including indie rock and ironic dance tunes.

Attendees were eager to share what was on their playlists — even if I was too ashamed to reveal I was listening to something from the MTV hit "Making the Band" and the "Survivor" television theme song. (Don't judge me. The beats are hot.)

Mick Stevens, 42, opted for Bobby Darren, Katy Perry and Leona Lewis.

"I know I'm going to look like a fool. I've accepted this," the Brooklyn resident said.

Forty-five-year-old Bronx resident Malinda McKinnon shared some of the same thoughts and artists, like REM and Nirvana. She also had rap icon Biggie Smalls.

"It's so random," she said. "[This] is one of the things that makes the city so great, that people can just get together and have fun despite the rumors of New Yorkers being rude."

At least for the day, New Yorkers were nice. They didn't make fun of the kid who danced so hard he tripped over a garbage bag and nearly hit the ground face-first, nor did they blink at the dancing mustard or cardboard box robot.

They did pay homage to a glow stick filled pineapple, screaming "Woooo!" each time it was hoisted in the air, for reasons that remain unclear.

Commercial Encounters

The one thing that many participants weren't fond of was the commercialization that accompanied the rave. Some advertisers and performers took the opportunity to show themselves off. A group flipped large, arrow-shaped signs saying "advertise here" as a street performer danced nearby for money.

Wesson worried that what began as a way for people to express themselves could become co-opted by advertisers. Several agencies have already approached him about planning a silent rave as a promotional act.

He declined.

"My only really motivation for doing this is fun," he said. "It's great to be able to let loose and relax, and that is what this is for."

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