11 Jan 2011

I was caught with my pants down, but still wearing my Springleap T-shirt!

Ten years ago seven guys started, as a prank, what is now the No Pants! Subway Ride in New York. This year, the annual event took place on 9 January in 50 cities in 24 countries, with an amazing 3500 people taking part in New York alone! And it took place for the first time in Africa, right here in Johannesburg.

The celebration of silliness requires that participants take off just their pants, and keep a poker face while they go about their normal routine on the train.

Ben Pienaar heard about this craziness and decided that he'd get the event going here in South Africa too, and created the event on facebook.

The transit flash mob drew my attention, drew over 100 other peoples attention, and drew the attention of the media (radio and newspaper) even before it took place. I'm a fan of flashmobs, having participated in a few already, and then organising Africa's first online flashmob. So naturally a no pants adventure got me to dig out my CK hotpants and pitch up at the Rhodesfield Gautrain Station at the designated time, along with some rockstar friends.

We boarded the train, and as we headed towards the next station we got the signal and casually de-panted. We then carried on reading our books and chatting away. Security seemed to have doubled by the time we got to the Sandton station, but they just stood by and watched as we went up the escalators and back down to the platform to head back to Rhodesfield, making comments and appearing to be enjoying the silliness with us.

Telana and Jack

Once we were back at Rhodesfield, security cornered us and informed us that we were being arrested for "public indecency". Being an active participant myself, I can vouch that nothing other than a few laughs and smiles from fellow passengers occurred, and no one was indecent at any point.

It actually was fantastic how calm, cooperative and cheerful we all were, considering we ended up being taken to the police station handcuffed to each other, in a 6-van-siren-and-flashing-lights-convoy. The charges were changed to "illegal gathering" and then dropped, and the only thing left that the humourless Security Officials could do was issue us with a fine (a big shout out to Neville from Minnie Attorneys for helping out!)

Telana, Ben, Mystery Man, Neville and Peter

Having done nothing illegal, there were no grounds to have detained us, and we got another ride back to the Rhodesfield Station, this time in a 3-van-siren-and-flashing-lights-convoy. (Yes- they needed 6 vans to take the 36 of us to the police station, but only 3 to take all 36 of us back in cramped style- go figure!)

Similar events took place all over the world in cities including Zurich, Washington DC, Madrid, Chicago, London, New York, Amsterdam, Sydney, Milano and no arrests were made.

Peter, Telana and Jack

Africa's first No Pants event has made news all over: Rapport, The Times, MSN, Die Beeld, Sowetan, The Star, Jackaranda FM, Highveld Stero, 5FM, Talk Radio 702, ETV News, Eyewitness News, The Daily Maverick, and the web and overseas, Radio Taiwon International, . , Korea Herald. I wonder though if the event would have got as much exposure as being just another No Pants train ride among the many happening all over the globe, if we weren't arrested?

I wonder if, without the handcuffs and jail time, if we, as a country, would have been able to take a step back and have a laugh, at the silliness of a few daring people who went pants-less for an hour…?

Maybe we'll get to find out at next years event. :)

One Response so far.

  1. I was far too slow on the uptake and missed the opportunity of being arrested with you lot - although I was nearly arrested for taking a picture of the salvation army brass band(with their permission)at cedar square by a dreadfully serious and pompous security idiot.

    Is there a foursquare badge for being arrested en masse by silly officialdom

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