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Fine Arts Center bringing silent disco to the Springs 

click to enlarge The Fine Arts Center’s Snow Ball Silent Disco will combine art, music and installation-appropriate environmental sounds. - RAWPIXEL / SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
  • Rawpixel / Shutterstock.com
  • The Fine Arts Center’s Snow Ball Silent Disco will combine art, music and installation-appropriate environmental sounds.
‘This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco,” sang Talking Heads frontman David Byrne on the band’s 1979 single “Life During Wartime.” It’s a sentiment some may well share when they first encounter the Fine Arts Center’s Snow Ball: A Silent Disco on Saturday, Dec. 16. But the proceedings offer more than first meets the ears. Indeed, the interactive installation event has plenty for all the senses to take in, and may well be the first silent disco hosted in Colorado Springs.

“A silent disco?” you may ask, in much the same manner one might exclaim “A talking cat?”

As strange as it sounds, the concept is one with a fair amount of history. One of the earliest references is found in 1969’s Ruusujen Aika, a Finnish sci-fi art film where characters wear headsets at a party. The concept began receiving more serious consideration in the early ’90s, with eco-activists using headphones to listen to music at outdoor parties to lessen noise pollution and alleviate any disturbance to local wildlife.
Of course, the idea of an outwardly silent — yet shared — musical experience also has the bonus of helping to sidestep noise curfews, and has since been used for raves, house parties and, eventually, larger organized live music events. The first known “headphone concert” was staged by The Flaming Lips at 1999’s South by Southwest, albeit with mixed results due to technical problems. The following year, BBC Live Music held a “silent show” at Cardiff’s Chapter Arts Centre, featuring Welsh prog-rock band Rocketgoldstar and various deejays.

Which brings us to 2017, here and now. The Snow Ball Silent Disco accompanies “Beach Front,” an outdoor installation by Anchorage-based, Colorado Springs-born artist William “Buck” Walsky. The installation was created for the 2015 edition of the Burning Man festival. Employing structural steel, found objects such as bicycle wheels, and LED lights, the work — fitting for the silent disco’s early adoption by the ecologically minded — evokes a surreal “underwater wonderland” and explores the interdependence between humans and the forces of nature.

Silent disco participants, meanwhile, can choose from three distinct sonic experiences: two channels of music, plus one of ocean sounds to mesh with the installation.
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