Alliance Française Stages Silent Dance Party

Photo: Joshua Yospyn

If guests at Friday’s Alliance Française de Washington’s “Silence!” event didn’t like the song playing on the dance floor, all they had to do was switch the channel. That’s because the only music at the event was from the playlists streaming through wireless headphones, with two different channels of French traditional music and French electro-pop.

Held at the Alliance Française’s new downtown location at District Architecture Center, the 50-guest cultural event focused on the theme of silence through the “silent discotheque,” as well as projections of French silent films, a Marcel Marceau-inspired mime performance, and poetry in sign language from Gallaudet University students.

“Our main idea is to go beyond what people expect from Alliance Française,” said Sylvain Cornevaux, director of cultural programs for the Alliance Française. "It’s not a wine and cheese party; it’s being creative." Cornevaux came up with the idea after watching French television and seeing a report about dance parties held in the streets of Paris with dancers wearing wireless headphones so the neighbors couldn’t complain about the noise.

The Alliance Française turned to Silent Events, the wireless headphone provider of Bonnaroo, to provide the headphones for Friday’s Yelp-sponsored event. Cornevaux hopes to repeat the “silent discotheque” again, this time heading outdoors when the weather gets warmer. But on Friday, after performances by Gallaudet University groups the Invisible Hands and the Wild Zappers and Quest-4-Arts, guests shook off their inhibitions and danced silently to music from the likes of Justice and Phoenix. After the event ended at 9:30 p.m., Alliance Française staff members and guests moved to Napoleon in Adams Morgan for an after-party—with headphones, of course.

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