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Big noise over 'Silent' dance party

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Organizer Danny Silk and some promotional artwork. Photograph: Claire Byrne/Phnom Penh Post

If you notice about one hundred people silently parading around town this weekend, don’t worry. They’re not headphone-wearing zombies, they’re part of The Global Floating Dance Party, and they want you to join in.

The Global Floating Dance Party will take place from 6.30pm this Saturday, July 7, meeting at the Royal Palace Gardens before meandering down river into town. So what is it, you say?

“That is a very good question,” says Siem Reap organiser Danny Silk. “And it’s an unfortunately long, but cool answer.”

Danny says there are several elements to the occasion. First of all, it’s a party, and secondly, there’ll be dancing.

“The floating part is where it gets interesting,” he explains. “Normally when you think of a dance party you think of a bunch of people getting together in one location. This is where we differ. The idea is that we are now in an age where technology is so readily available and distributed widely enough that we actually can recreate dance parties that are no longer limited to one location.”

Participants are invited to download the party playlist in advance, and on Saturday night, revellers will converge in one spot, don their headphones and simultaneously press play on their mp3 players, thus creating a silent disco–cum–flash mob that will move through town.

“We’ll be stopping at a few places, it’s a mix of dancing and dance walking if you will,” says Danny. “Music is something that is very much shared, but when it comes to mp3 players and headphones it’s associated as a very isolated experience. This very much throws that idea upside-down.”

The global element came from two of Danny’s friends, one in Ghana, another in Tokyo, who came up with the idea of holding the same party, to the same music, in different locations around the world.

“A few friends and I had participated in these and I have a few friends who have organised in the past. They said, ‘You know what, I miss our floating dance parties, why don’t we do it, but we just invite anyone who wants to join to set up local organising committees, we’ll provide the music?”

Three weeks later and an idea between friends has evolved into floating dance parties planned this Saturday for at least 25 locales, in 12 countries, 18 time zones apart… and counting.

Each location has been invited to contribute to the playlist that will run for an hour and a half throughout the party.

“It’s going to be interesting to see what the dance music entails and how people dance to it. I know I’ve never danced to so many different kinds of music in one day,” says Danny. “My first time hearing it will be the at this event, just seeing how people respond to it together. Not only are you listening to a global dance playlist here in Cambodia, but it’s the awareness that people in Jordon, Costa Rica, Japan are for the very first time hearing Khmer music. Everyone’s going to have exposure.”

With 100 people already signed up on the group’s Facebook page at the time of going to print, it’s set to be a popular night. The seven strong organising team, which also includes Cambodians Vanty Ung, Chhay Ao, Seakngoy Try, and Konnitha Sien, plus Clem Velasco from Australia, and Séverine Ribard from France

This echoes the mix of local and international input that organisers want from the dance party.

“It’s not an expat event or not a Khmer event, just a mix of everyone who’s here.” says Danny. “The city already is international feeling in a lot of ways, but it usually concentrates on a very specific sharing of one culture verses a pan-cultural, cross-cultural experience.”

Danny says many people are looking for some sort of political or ideological message behind the night, of which Danny says, there is none.

“It’s people coming together, and sharing experience and doing it for the heck of it in a lot of ways and there’s something to be said about that, there really is.”

Danny says while the short organisation process has shown how easily this can be done, outside of Cambodia, it wasn’t so straight-forward.

“Some of my friends are in countries where this is not allowed, even though it’s not politically charged. Like Dubai, you can’t dance publically, technically, and there’s no freedom of assembly in Singapore. You have to be cognisant of the legal set up and the political culture.”

For Danny, the first party will be a trial and error exploratory exercise.

“If this is successful we are contemplating it being an annual thing but we want to see how it goes first and see how cities and towns respond to the challenge.”

Above everything says Danny, it’s just good, clean fun.

“When else can you just dance around Siem Reap? I think it’s liberating, an excuse to do something that’s generally not seen as acceptable behaviour," he says. “And we’re not breaking any rules here, we’re using streets, walking around, there’s no noise violation, we’re not disrupting the goings on.”

He concludes, “To give people a space and a time and an opportunity for that is something that should never ever be underestimated.”

To join Global Floating Dance Party, visit the Facebook page at http://on.fb.me/MZrHTd for locations and how to download the playlist.

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