At first glance, the Headphone Disco appeared to be little more than a sparse gathering of students caught dancing with headsets on. From the outside, it was a strange sight, but as music played in participant’s ears, it became easier to embrace the awkwardness of the situation.
As students walked into the Cabaret last Thursday, they got a taste of what a Headphone Disco really is. Despite the 16 people inside, the room was silent — apart from the one person who couldn’t help but sing along to the music. As each person entered the room, a pair of wireless headphones was handed to each of them to use for the night. Attendees could switch between two music stations at anytime, with a hodgepodge of hits to listen to, allowing students to get down to V.I.C’s “Wobble” or sway to Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline.”
“I think it makes it more about dancing and letting go and not judging anyone,” said Dennis Connors, a sophomore performing arts major, who abruptly returned to dancing as soon as Britney Spears began to play in his ear.
Director of Student Activities Jason Meier and Katherine Raymond, a junior marketing communication major, were the ones who decided to bring the Headphone Disco to Emerson after getting the idea from the National Association for Campus Activities conference in November.
“We thought it would be a great thing to bring to Emerson, because it was unique and cutting edge and funny and awkward and everything that we are,” said Meier.
Emerson Mane Events (EME), a student-run organization that frequently puts on events for Emerson students, were the ones who organized the Headphone Disco.
Most of their events attract around 40 people, according to Raymond, who has been working with EME for almost two years. Yet, the number of people at the Headphone Disco never rose above 30.
Attendee Julia Higgins, a freshman journalism major said the event was fun despite the poor turnout.
“It was a little barren,” Higgins said. “No one was really dancing, but I think it’s really fun. I just wish more people had come. I pretty much knew what to expect and I was excited to come to it. I don’t think a lot of people really understood though.”
The concept of the Headphone Disco has only become popular in the last couple of years, after finding success in Europe when it debuted at the 2005 Glastonbury music festival, according to The Telegraph. It is still finding its way onto the U.S. entertainment scene.
The lack of awareness and ambiguity of a Headphone Disco may have turned students away, but for the students who did go, there were few regrets.
“This is such a cool idea,” said Connors. “It’s just outrageous having two different people be dancing to completely different music and everybody having a good time. I was singing the ‘Thong Song’ a little while ago while someone was dancing to ‘Call Me Maybe.’ I don’t know if you could say that anywhere else.”
The music of the night tended to lean toward the pop music genre, with a few classics from the ‘80s and ‘90s thrown in. No one seemed to have a problem with the choice in tunes, and the DJ controlling the headphones music stations was open to taking requests all night.
Though the Headphone Disco did not have the anticipated turnout, Raymond said she considered the night a success and would definitely throw Emerson another Headphone Disco in the future.
“There are definitely some things I would do differently, but the objective is for the people who attend to have a good time, and I think they did,” Raymond said. “EME is about putting on events that will bring people together who normally wouldn’t have met.”
Leahy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.