Silent Disco Ice Skating lets you skate to your own beat at Schenley Park
February 28, 2014 3:54 PM
By Dan Majors / The Pittsburgh Press
There’s something happening here. What it is ain’t exactly clear.
It’s time we skate. Hey, where’s the sound? Everybody look what’s going down.
Welcome to the Silent Disco Ice Skating tonight at the Schenley Park Ice Skating Rink, where the participants don headsets plugging them into their own private music while gliding around with friends.
It’s brought to you by Frequency 528, a small, budding coalition of artists that started organizing silent discos in Pittsburgh last summer.
These gatherings have become all the rage at clubs and those massive music festivals across the country because it combines the elements of dancing to the music you like and looking weird while doing it.
“It also gives you access to places that wouldn’t normally allow this type of event because of the loud speakers and the subwoofers and the profanity in the music,” said organizer T.J. Harris.
Mr. Harris and fellow DJ Ryan O made a sizable investment in some equipment and held eight silent discos during the summer, usually at the Vietnam Vets Pavilion at Schenley Park because it was beautiful and open and free.
“Ryan and I have been sitting around throwing ideas for years now and we’ve been trying to think what we could do to have more shows with our silent disco equipment,” Mr. Harris said. “We’ve been doing private parties and corporate events and things like that. But we want to be in the community and family friendly, that sort of vibe. And we figured, ‘Why not do the skating rink?’”
“Why not?,” of course, is one of the best questions you can ask yourself.
Let’s talk about how this works.
“The system we have is a three-channel system so each headset has three options to choose from,” Mr. Harris said. “We can set up live bands or DJs or pretty much anything else we want to feed these channels. It all runs off an FM transmitter designed specifically for the wavelengths in the headsets. You can’t just show up with a radio headset. You have to have one of our system’s.
“We have about 200. I want to say that we are the largest silent disco company in Pittsburgh.”
“Frequency 528” is the megahertz frequency that the Internet says has a healing effect on DNA and helps regenerate growth.
“There’s a lot to it if you get into reading all the very hip mumbo-jumbo stuff about growing your body and opening your mind and how everybody’s body works on different wavelengths and how frequency 528 vibration can help build your heart up,” Mr. Harris said. “All these amazing powers to help people through sound.
“I’ve experimented with a lot of meditation through sound waves and vibration and things like that. I think a lot about it and believe in it. I call it a science. It’s not one that’s in the forefront of people’s minds, but it’s something that people experiment with. Obviously, music can change your mood, so different vibrations in the music must do something as well.”
So there you are tonight, choosing the music vibrations that you prefer and cutting figure 8s on the ice.
“We’re going to have 12 DJs on three stages at any one time,” Mr. Harris said. “We have the basement room for the DJs, the bar and the pizza. Because the headsets are wireless, you can be in the banquet hall, you can go out and ice skate, you can go outside and smoke cigarettes. You’re not connected. We have about 1,000 yards of distance on reception, so you can get pretty far away and still pick it up.
“You can listen to whatever you want to listen to from the three channels. That’s the best part of it.”
And when you’re not participating, silent disco skating becomes a great spectator sport.
“It’s a really fun people-watching experience,” Mr. Harris said. “You have your music on and you’re dancing and you look over at someone else dancing and you have no idea what they’re dancing to. You switch your channel to their channel. It’s an interesting thing to watch 50 people all dancing to different music at the same time. It’s really cool.”
But don’t the headsets interfere with socializing? Ha! Wrong!
“Honestly, it makes it a lot easier to mingle than when you’re at a nightclub and the music is all loud and everybody has to scream at each other and you’re losing your voice by the end of the night,” Mr. Harris said. “Here, I can just pull my headset off and have a normal conversation. So it’s kind of nice for the social aspect.
“I’m really excited about the skating part because nobody in Pittsburgh has ever done this.”
So you’ll want to be at the Schenley Park Ice Skating Rink on Overlook Drive in Oakland from 7 to 11 p.m. The admission is $20, but that gets you headsets, access to the bar and pizza, and chances for door prizes.
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