Champions Run added a surprising element to its formal New Year’s Eve party by renting headphones and creating a “silent disco.”
While enjoying the Austin City Limits music festival in Austin, Texas last year, Ben Lorenzen, Creative Director of Champions Run in Omaha, Neb., discovered a peculiar sight. It was a tent, filled with thousands of people dancing and singing different songs, but there was no music playing out loud, and everyone wore headphones.
Curious, he ventured into the tent and was issued a pair of headphones, with which he could switch between three different DJs who were playing different music live on the stage. The headphones were color-coordinated, so attendees could look around in the crowd and see who was listening to which DJ.
|THE GOAL: Add a surprising new element to the formal New Year’s Eve party at Champions Run.
THE PLAN: Rent headphones and receivers for a “silent disco,” which allows members to switch between the music streams played by three different DJs, while dancing and singing without the use of sound systems (and without disturbing neighbors or nearby partygoers).
THE PAYOFF: Members ages 21 to 89 experienced and enjoyed the unique event, and at any given time, there was a line of 20 to 30 people trying to get in.
“It was a trip,” Lorenzen says.
Lorenzen had stumbled upon a silent disco, or silent rave, which eschews a speaker system in favor of streaming music directly to partygoers’ ears. Silent discos are popular at music festivals, as they allow dancing to continue past noise curfews and without bothering neighbors.
Intrigued, Lorenzen took down the contact information for the company that organized the event and kept in touch to coordinate a similar event at Champions Run, in tandem with the club’s New Year’s celebration.
“We wanted to throw an epic party that was different and offered our members something they had never seen or heard of before,” Lorenzen says. “It’s very popular at music festivals and for younger kids, so it was cool to see older people experience it.”
Champions Run’s formal New Year’s Eve party welcomes more than 1,000 attendees to the clubhouse, with something different going on in each room. “We also live-streamed each room, so if you were in our lobby, you could see what was happening in all of the other rooms,” Lorenzen says.
The headphones and receivers were shipped to the club in advance of the event, and every other element was handled in-house. Lorenzen set up the audio elements, and worked with staff to put together pre-determined play-lists that were “the perfect combination of sing-along hits and other songs that everyone would like,” Lorenzen says.
To create a “wild atmosphere,” Lorenzen says, the club also dropped balloons and confetti on the crowd, and used fog cannons.
Promotional efforts for the event included videos that showed what a silent disco is, which were distributed via newsletters and social media. The silent disco was held in the club’s boardroom, which usually holds 50, but Lorenzen reports that 75 people were let in. “There was always a line of 20 to 30 people waiting to get in,” he says.
However, the Silent Disco room did not have a bar or bathroom—so if attendees wanted a drink or to use the restroom, they handed in their headphones and had to get back in line if they wanted to return. This helped make the line move faster, Lorenzen says.
“We could have done it in a bigger room,” Lorenzen says. “However, it was our first year, so we wanted to ensure it was successful.”
While the event might initially appeal to younger groups, Lorenzen says the age range of attendees was vast, from 21 to 89.
Given the Silent Disco’s popularity, Lorenzen plans to offer it again, but this time with more headphones. The club is also considering hiring professional DJs rather than using staff.
“It was a total success—the best event I’ve ever done at the club,” Lorenzen says.
For a special 2017 Christmas performance by the Vienna Boys Choir, the Army Navy Country Club (ANCC), Arlington, Va., transformed its 5-Star Ballroom into a concert hall with assigned seating for over 600 attendees. Members picked up their tickets (which were secured through an online lottery, after over 1,000 requests were received) and seat assignments at the club’s front desk. It was only the third time in the famous choir’s 500-year history that it performed at a country club—the other two also being at ANCC in 2013 and 2015.