On Saturday the 12th of January we organised and participated in the 1st worldwide annual No Pants on the Subway Event. This event wasn’t exactly a Flash Mob but it had many similarities so it was hosted by and organised through the Adelaide Flash Mob Facebook Group
. The No Pants Subway Ride is an idea originally hatched by New York based improv group, Improv Everywhere. This year they encouraged people to organise their own No Pants Events in cities around the world to take place on the same day as the New York Event in its 7th consecutive year.
The idea basically consists of a bunch of people riding the subway without wearing any pants. Each participant is instructed to pretend they don’t know any of the other pantsless riders and to act like its not particularly abnormal to be riding the train without pants. Since we don’t have a subway here in Adelaide, we decided to do it on the Grange and Outer Harbour trains leaving the city. We weren’t expecting many people so we modelled our idea on the original Improv Everywhere idea which includes a Pants Vendor. Read our event instructions to participants here download family guy presents stewie griffin the untold story free .
Our participation was disapointing. The event was almost entirely organised through Facebook and by the time the 12th rolled around over 700 people had been invited. Of those 700 invites we had 6 (including myself) who said they were attending, 64 who said they might attend, 395 not attending and 251 who hadn’t replied. On the day, only 2 of the 6 ‘attendings’ showed up and none of the ‘maybes,’ but luckily someone who’d heard about it through a friend rallied a small group of 3 to bring our total participation up to 5 (3 male, 2 female) plus some support staff who didn’t de-pants.
The New York event had over 900 participants, which is fantastic news. Still waiting* to see how the other regional events turned out. Adelaide is much smaller than New York of course but its also summer here and Saturday, at 26 degrees C, was perfect weather for walking about in underwear.
I think that this lack of participation highlights the fact that altough Facebook is a pretty fantastic social networking site and has the potential to make communications such as event organisation much easier, it still has a long way to go, at least in Australia. The problem, I think, is that Facebook is in the cyber world and events are in the real world. If you join a group on Facebook it doesn’t necessarily mean that you agree with what the group stands for or ever intend to visit again. Similarly if you say that you are attending an event on Facebook, its not the same as telling someone in person that you intend to come. Hopefully we’ll have more luck with Facebook in the future.
*Update: View reports, photos and videos of other regional events here
Participation aside, the event was very successful. On the way down everything worked as it was meant to and I think we evoked some brilliant reactions from those around us, although they certainly would’ve been more impressive if we had a few more participants. It was also great fun to do.
We had intended to repeat the performance on the train back into town but I accidently got us on the wrong carriage. I was trying to put us on the back carriage because I thought it would be less crowded but I forgot that now that the train was going in the other direction, the back carriage had become the front carriage… duhhhh. Anyway, as we were heading into town the carriage became more and more crowded. There was also a number of people with pushbikes, prams and children so we decided that it would be very difficult to de-pants, get pants to the pants seller and exit the train safely and we called off the second run through.
As a compromise, myself and Derek came up with a quick plan to make for an exciting finish to the day. We each got off at consecutive stops, however with our pants on. Then we took off our pants while on the platform and entered the next train as before. When we reached the city we walked through the station pantsless and out into the city.
We had a dedicated camera man, Sam, along for the ride to capture video. I also carried a camera hidden in a large folder (folder cam) which turned out to be probably less suttle than simply holding a camera in plain view and pretending to be fiddling with it. However, due to a number of things, not least my technological noobiness, I had the camera zoomed in way too far and unfortunately got nothing useable from folder cam. We have edited the video into a short film which is embedded below and also available on Youtube.
Its difficult to give a good account all by myself so I have posted participant reports below. Enjoy!
I nervously rocked up to Maccas, still not really knowing if I was going to game enough to participate. There had been 68 people saying they might be attending the No Pants 2K8, so it was a bit of a shock that there were just 2 guys waiting at the allocated spot at the time stated. On the one hand I wanted to run – I would be so exposed! On the other I felt that the impact would be so much better with more people, so thought I couldn’t let the side down.
It’s amazing how little people generally react to odd social behaviour – accept young males that is! There were a group of Indigenous kids who thought it was hilarious!
On the second train I sat down opposite a group of eldery folk. They didn’t really seem to react at all, but I heard them muttering about “swimming attire” so I guess they came up with their own explanation. When they vacated it was another group of young guys that took their seats. I was so relieved when the pants seller started selling pants because the young guys had just started trying to interact.
The train back into Adelaide starting getting really crowded, and I was feeling more and more uncomfortable about a repeat performance. Thanks Mr Penguin for allowing us off the hook!
Well done for organising the event.
I didn’t really know what to expect – I thought that maybe there would be about 10 of us, so it was disappointing to find only 5 plus support crew – but I’m very glad I managed to convince my sister and brother in law to join in too! I took my partner along because I wasn’t too worried about the train bit but didn’t want to be stranded on the platform waiting for 15 minutes with no support at all.
There were a few definite twitters when Nick de-pants-ed. It seemed to take forever for that first stop to arrive. But it all rolled from there. There were no other people at the stop that I had been given, so we had the time to just chat and relax. I don’t remember too many comments when I got onto the train as the 4th unpantsed person. I found that a baby makes quite a good prop. It gives something definite to focus on and when some people smiled at me I could smile back because I’m getting used to them staring at the baby and wanting to chat to me about that.
It still seemed to take forever for our pants to be sold back to us though!
It was a little unnerving when a small group of youths were very interested in what was going on and one struck up a conversation as I was trying to get redressed. Thankfully, he was mostly happy with chatting about bubs, and I was able to brush off his suggestion that he was getting lucky by saying “Don’t people usually take their pants off when you’re gonna get lucky? I’m just getting dressed.” He made a few comments about the attractiveness of another team member, but was generally harmless. He suggested that we should hook up again later and asked if the baby’s father was waiting at home. I said “Yes” but didn’t tell him that he was sitting directly opposite pretending not to know me.
There was a young asian couple that were along for the pantsless ride, and they returned on the same train as we did. I wonder what they thought was going on. Did they really mean to ride to Outer Harbour and back without doing anything in the middle?
So – it was nerve wracking, but I was amazed at how easy it was to keep a straight face throughout it all. And very glad I didn’t need the spare pants I hid in the baby bag! I’m glad we went in for it, even if it was jumping in the deep end for our first AFM experience! Anything after that should be much easier.
Nick (firey boxers)
Due to the lack of ‘attendings’ we received as well as the fickleness of Facebook as an organising medium, I was very nervous, leading up to the start of the event, that no one would turn up. When we managed to get 5 I was quite relieved, although later I realised that it was infact a pretty poor turnout.
I assigned myself the first stop to de-pants and get off at to be the leader and icebreaker for the others to follow. The train initially goes very slowly as it leaves the Adelaide station and I got impatient with waiting and took my pants off somewhat early. I had to wait at the door for a while but I suppose it gave the train riders a chance to take in my pantlessness and begin to wonder what the hell was going on. When I got off at the stop there was one other person on the platform and he gave me a funny look; I wonder what he was thinking.
It was a warm day and actually quite comfortable to be wearing only boxers. When I got on the next train I noticed a few people do double takes but, as I was the first one on, there wasn’t too much commotion. I tried to avoid making eye contact to stay in character and appear casual. I set myself up next to the door with my folder cam to capture the other riders entering the train (althought the camera didn’t work, see ‘documentation’ above).
There were some notable reactions that I experienced. There was one older bald guy who was on the train from the start and was continually looking around, muttering to himself, and trying to work things out. Towards the end of the trip he eventually got up the courage to say “is it no pants day to day or something?”
Once we were all on the second train pantless, I heard some laughter coming from down the back and went to check it out with my camera. There was two girls there trying to control their giggles while questioning another pantless rider. I sat down and looked straight ahead, ignoring them. It didn’t take them long to blurt out “why aren’t you wearing any pants?” I told them that I was in a hurry that morning and I guess I had just forgotten them. I also added that it was lucky that it was such a warm day and that I was quiet comfortable. They said that there was other 4 people on the train without pants. I looked around, noticed for the first time that the guy sitting across from me was also pantsless and said that I didn’t know any of the other people. The girls went through a string of theories; ‘you’re friends,’ ‘its a dare,’ ‘you know each other from work,’ but were never really quite sure what to make of it all.
All in all it was great fun to participate in and organise and I won’t hesitate to do it again next year.