New York (March 31, 2005)–England’s enormous Glastonbury Festival has always had something for everyone–rock, pop, blues, dance, trance, techno, you name it. This year, the outdoor festival will have something for its neighbors’ ears, too: Silence.
The 35-year-old festival, to be held June 24-26, has offered a nighttime dance tent for years, but local villagers who may be tolerant of the festival’s sounds during the day have long been angry about loudspeakers blaring late into the night. In an effort to pacify the neighbors, Glastonbury’s planners expect to hold a “Silent Disco,” handing out wireless ear monitors to thousands of partiers who want to boogie past midnight.
Michael Eavis, founder of the festival, told Reuters, “It’s a unique way for people to party without offending those who want to sleep, or disturbing the villagers nearby, who have complained about the noise. We’ve been looking at a solution like this for ages. The system was developed by a Dutch firm and successfully used at parties in the Netherlands and we hope it works here too.”
Time Out magazine quoted co-organizer Emily Eavis as saying, “The [local town] Council has already stressed that noise pollution is the number one thing they’re looking out for….Imagine a couple of thousand people dancing in absolute silence!”
Relations with the local government has been testy in recent years, and the festival has made efforts to change that with additions such as a giant fence which was built around the site three years ago to reduce the number of gatecrashers and lower crime.
At the fest’s website (www.glastonburyfestivals.co.uk), news of the Silent Disco has garnered a mixed reaction. Some fans are enthusiastic, such as Lievepaula who wrote, “I saw and experienced the Silent Disco a few times in Holland (at Lowlands and other festivals) and think it’s fun. It’s hilarious to watch, to be watched and if you want to have a conversation…you can do it in peace and quiet.”
Conversely, old-school fans such as Russtaffa were riled up, posting, “I can’t believe most of you think this is going to be good! Sheesh, why don’t I walk to the nearest field to my house with my Walkman and save £125?…This is stupid and is the final straw in my decision not to go to Glasto this year.”