Friday, January 27, 2012

No Pants Subway Ride

Every day millions and millions of people all over the world take mass transit. They take the bus, trains, and subways to work, school, or to wherever. Pretty much no one thinks anything of it because it's such a part of the daily routine. About a year-and-a-half ago I learned about an improv group in New York that had been shaking up that daily routine a little. The group, Improv Everywhere, who does all sorts of public improvisational activities, picks one day each year when they "invade" the subway to ride with no pants!

Each year it has gotten bigger and bigger, spreading to more and more cities around the world. This year's event took place on January 8th in a record 27 countries with pants-free groups riding metros in 59 different cities, including one in Barcelona. The Barcelona group was organized on facebook and started its "mission" at Plaza Universitat right in front of the Universitat de Barcelona:

After about five minutes of introductions and some general information and advice given, the main group of about 70-100 people broke into two smaller groups and went down into the metro to each go in a different direction. It was funny to watch the reaction of the attendants who work for the TMB wondering why there was such a big group of people all entering at the same time. They definitely looked nervous.

Diana and I followed one group onto the L1 Red Line. Once on the metro and after about three stops, the group stripped down to their underwear. As is their tag line, We Cause Scenes, Improv Everywhere is very vocal that people not go naked as their goal with the whole event is to "cause a scene" and not get arrested. Watching the reactions of the people who just happened to be on the metro that day was priceless.

Improv Everywhere gives a lot of advice on how the mission should be done. Their goal is that the people with no pants blend in with regular commuters, ignore each other, and act like everything is normal. If they're asked where their pants are, the "actors" are told to respond something like "I forgot" or "I'm more comfortable this way". The group in Barcelona wasn't so nonchalant but they still had a great time and people's reactions were the best.

The event took place on Sunday afternoon but the metro was surprisingly crowded. From this angle, it's almost impossible to see that there are about 20 people in their underwear on this car:

The group we were with changed lines a couple of times and made sure to walk through the longest interchanges possible while in their chones. Again, the best part of the day was watching the surprised reactions of the people who just happened to be in the right place at the right time.

I know you're probably asking so, no, Diana and I didn't do the no-pants thing. We just tagged along with the groups and enjoyed the show. I was surprised by my reaction to the spectacle. As much as I wanted to, I was unable to take photos of people in their underwear on the metro. I'm still not sure why. As I've said a bunch of times before, Diana, fortunately, has ZERO fear of doing anything so she took the majority of photos that you see here.

There were a few notable "actors" that day with this guy "winning" best costume for his carrying a large painting with him everywhere he went and for playing the whole nonchalant role very well:

No matter what, Improv Everywhere has definitely put their spin on the day-to-day commute. If you get a chance, check out some of their other missions. They do some great stuff like Black Tie Beach, The Mute Button, and, probably my favorite, Star Wars Subway Car. Who knows, maybe next year I'll go all in and do the no-pants thing. Or maybe mix it up and go as a no-pants Darth Vader or something. I don't know. I guess we'll see.


  1. Hahaha....that´s really wierd. And so funny! Looking forward to see next years photos when you and Diana will join ;)

  2. barcelena - we shall see. I'll probably need to go out and buy some underwear though. I didn't see anyone that day with holes in their underwear...


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