Some of you probably read the title and wondered what the “No Pants” part means. Weirdly enough, NPSR is self explanatory. This worldwide popular flash-mob started in 2002 in New York City as part of Improv Everywhere project founded by Charlie Todd. Back then only 6 people found the courage to come out and drop their pants in public. In 2016, thousands of people from over 60 countries across the globe came together to participate in the 15th Annual [No Pants] Subway Ride.
Honestly, i don’t know what got into me when i decided to attend the flash-mob in January 2016. I do enjoy getting together with people and do somewhat crazy things but this event is a little bit out of the ordinary. Pushing boundaries, expand my limits, get out of my comfort zone- I think this is what i was shooting for. Did i shoot too high though? Let’s just say this flash-mob made the regular uncomfortable a thousand times more uncomfortable. For those of you who are not familiar with the event this is how it goes:
Vancouver, BC – January 10, 2016 , 15:00PM
Hundreds of people are gathered in front of the Art Gallery and most of them are looking anxious around them. Some are alone, some with groups of friends, some will be making brand new friends in a matter of minutes. (I definitely did – Crazy meets Crazy). There are reporters and countless cameras flashing and passerby’s are wondering what is the buzz about. At some point the organizers ask everyone present to drop their pants for a photo-shoot. According to them people will get lost along the way and at the end of the trip the amount of participants will change dramatically. 80% are doing as they were told, the other 20 % are not ready to give up their innocence away (yet).
The about 400 participants are split in 2 groups and after putting our pants back on (so we save the surprise factor for the actual rides), we walk fast towards the 2 different skytrain stations. (Vancouver has skytrains as opposed to subways). As soon as we arrive the doors open and everyone scatters in the compartments without saying a word. The doors close and the pants come off. Fast, Easy, Natural.
Thinking about it now- the whole things was pretty funny. Gasps, hidden laughter, starring, parents covering the eyes of their kids while the children were asking why is everyone in their underwear. And yet all the participants are keeping their cool- some reading books, some discussing the latest scientific event, some browsing their phones (probably to distract themselves from the real world). We changed stations a couple of times and about an hour later we reunited the group at a convenient station for a last picture together.
I would lie if i would say that wasn’t one of the most uncomfortable things i have ever done in my life. Luckily i wasn’t alone throughout the whole ordeal and i genuinely couldn’t stop laughing at the ridiculously creative underwear some people decided to wear. ( aka the guy lying down in the front row, sporting a yellow clown face with a red nose underwear in the featured image). When the issue with children being present in the skytrain was raised someone flat-out pointed out that the flash-mob is educational in regards to human anatomy. What a way to contribute to the education of future generations.
While waiting to board a middle aged lady approached me ( out of tens of people she somewhat chose me) and asked if we have a reason for this event. The answer came naturally “When i’ll be 80 i’ll tell my grandchildren that their grandma was a little crazy.” You really don’t need a reason to do something out of the ordinary.
At the end of the day I think every participant felt the judgmental looks from other people. It’s not easy being the weird one out in a world that has strict social norms. You get a little taste of having to go against the world and not care about what other people think about you. It’s courage really. A lot of it. The flash-mob definitely taught me a few things. After all it was an experience- one that i would probably not repeat (or who knows) and definitely won’t ever forget.
For those of you who live in Vancouver and are feeling a little warm and oddly brave this winter, the 2017 event will take place on Sunday, January 8th.
For the adventurous people outside Vancouver – more info in the link below: https://improveverywhere.com/missions/the-no-pants-subway-ride/
Picture credit: VancityBuzz