By Sibel Tinar, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – Ipanema nightclub Dama de Ferro holds a curious secret behind its iron doors every Thursday night. The long line of clubbers at its entrance goes around the block by the Lagoa, yet instead of shaking with thumping bass sounds and loud noises, the club itself is completely silent.
Upon entering, the sights and (lack of) sounds of the dance-floor are a scene to be remembered: people dancing with headphones on while the DJs spin to virtual silence, in an atmosphere so quiet even footsteps can be heard.
This is Shh! Club Silêncio, a “silent party”, where each club-goer is given a wireless headphone, and by the flick of a switch can choose between the three DJs playing at the same time.
Headphones means customizing your clubbing experience, as you can adjust the volume, and switch back and forth between the channels playing pop, rock, and electronic music. This gives the option to avoid going temporarily deaf next to a wall of speakers, as well as to take off the headphones and have a conversation without damaging your vocal chords.
Conor Brady, an Irishman living in Rio, and his wife, Adriana Lima, a well-known artist and the owner of Dama de Ferro, had the dream to organize a headphone party for years; and when they saw a thousand people dancing in silence at the boutique festival Electric Picnic in Ireland in 2009, they knew it was possible to bring this new trend to Brazil.
With their partner, fellow Irishman Alex Brennan, they opened the doors to Shh! Club Silêncio in January 2010, and managed to create a whirl of hype in the process;
“Our logo is a monkey with headphones, so the word Macacada came up in a brain-storm”, Conor tells us. “It can be loosely translated as making a mess or monkeying around. With a bunch of friends, we got some monkey masks, a box of bananas, a few beers, and headed off to make our own silent Macacada on Pedra do Arpoador in Ipanema. Let’s just say that we got a few strange looks…”
It proved to be well worth it, as soon after they got a page spread in O Globo‘s Sunday magazine, which gave them instant exposure, and the party never saw an empty dance-floor.
“To be honest, it took a few months for the Cariocas to be won over”, adds Conor, indicating that initially it was mostly gringos and tourists who made up the crowd. “Rio is famous for being difficult to work in the nightlife, probably because there are so many other socializing options, like the beach, to going out at night.”
As Cariocas slowly warmed to the idea, Conor and his partners started contacting different clubs around Brazil. They now hold a monthly party in Porto Alegre, and one at Sonique in São Paulo.
“We market ourselves as the way of the future for parties”, says Conor. “Our party uses a lot less energy than a normal party. We have special ecological rechargeable batteries, and there is little noise pollution.” Thus their business quickly grew, and wherever they went, the media followed them.
“Over 25 film crews have been at our parties”, Conor tells us. “We are currently branching out into corporate events, but our dream is to find a sponsor and do a Brazilian tour of the main cities.”
Shh! Club Silêncio offers a glimpse into the future of clubbing, and perhaps even the future of Rio nightlife. “Last Thursday we had our biggest party yet – there were even Cariocas queuing in the rain!”, Conor points out. Anyone who is familiar with Rio would know just how big an enthusiasm this means.