Silent Disco At The Shard, London : Review
Updated: Aug 1, 2018
Occasionally you experience those moments when you can see outside of yourself. Suddenly - inexplicably - you are directly aware of your current situation. Like a freeze frame in time. A moment to behold. A memory to keep. A sound, a feeling, a smell or a visual which you know you’ll be able to go back to and visit in your mind. Maybe for year or two, maybe forever.
I am recalling one of those moments right now. As if I am there again. The visual fixed in my mind. And that visual is awesome. I am at the top of The Shard. Right at the top. The open-air floor where the towering angles of glass shoot directly up towards the sky, and the freezing wind whips around them to take away your breath. It’s dark all around except the dotted city lights spread down below, and the flashing wing lights of a climbing aircraft just above. I wonder if they can see me. Standing alone, right at the pinnacle of the most iconic building in perhaps the most famous capital of the world.
I feel privileged. As if I have been invited to one of the most exclusive parties ever to happen in London.
Except I haven’t. I found some £20 tickets on the Timeout website, printed them off and now I am here with my girlfriend. The only two people to find the steps up from the party going on just below. A party which - after placing my big plastic headphones back over my ears - we are just about to return to.
I am at the Timeout View From The Shard Silent Disco. For those unfamiliar with Silent Discos, the concept is straightforward. Put simply, there are no main speakers. Instead all the music is played directly into the ears of the attendees via a mandatory set of Tron-styled headphones. The Silent Disco was created to stop loud parties disturbing local neighbourhoods - a function rather redundant as we stand 300m high above the city of London. Yet what isn’t redundant is another advantage of a Silent Disco - competing DJs. By fiddling a switch on my headphones I can switch directly between the three live DJs playing their own distinctive genre of party music. My current choice is indicated by a bright halo on my headphones; blue for funk, yellow for dance, green for chart hits.
As I walk down the metal stairs overlooking the DJ booth I can see pockets of revellers dancing in groups of matching colours. Throughout the night, the mood of this growing crowd will shift across the spectrum reflecting the triumphs and failures of each DJ. At the moment however, it's early in the evening and the party is finding its feet. While some dance, the constant distraction of a view is drawing others to stare out across the city and catch a perfect selfie. In a dark grimy club there is little to do but dance. Here, however, there is a mix between revelling and sightseeing. There is also a big mix in the people. Amongst the groups of typical young London club goers, are couples in their thirties, and new visitors to London. Take off your headphones for a moment and it feels like you are at the weirdest networking event in the world. Put the headphones on and you are thrown back into your own private party. The ability to exit so easily in and out is a weird sensation, but as the night goes on these two worlds collide.
By 11pm even with the headphones off you are unmistakably at a club night. Cutting through any chance of conversation is the sound of a frantically shuffling crowd tunelessly shouting out the words to three different concurrent songs.
The networking event just went haywire. So no choice but to pick your favourite channel, forget about the view, and jump right in.