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Thursday, January 10, 2019

January 13 Is Here. Hold Onto Your Britches!

Posted by R. Ann Siracusa

Imagine this scenario.

It’s the middle of January in New York. As you trudge toward the entrance to the subway, the snow is high enough to sneak over the tops of your boots and dampen your thick wool socks. Icy winter winds whip between the tall buildings and right through your down jacket until you feel as if your bones are frozen. Your cheeks burn under the heavy scarf across your face. Your teeth are loose from chattering and you’re afraid when you take off your beanie, your ears will fall off.

After a miserable wait, you finally get on the train, find a seat and try to warm up a little. But the doors slide open at the next stop, letting frigid air assault you while a group of people enter the car. Typical commuters wearing winter coats, gloves, hats, and -- your eyes nearly pop out of your head – only their skivvies above heavy shoes and high boots.

What!? Well, after all … this is New York City.New York City- Photo source:


You’ve never heard of this?

You must have lived a protected life, or lived in a small town, because “No Pants Subway Ride Day”, which was started by Charlie Todd [Improv Everywhere] in New York in 2002, is now in its nineteenth year and is celebrated as annual event more than sixty countries all around the world. In the UK the event is called “No Trousers On The Tube Day”, since the word pants in the UK means underwear.

Improv Everywhere is a comedic performance-art group that stages unexpected performances and pranks in public places. These performances are intended to surprise and delight random strangers through positive pranks, and to make people laugh. IE’s slogan is “We Cause Scenes.” The group preceded both YouTube and the FlashMob trend and its only agenda is to make people laugh and have fun.
Berlin, Germany Hannibal Hanschke/ Reuters - Photo source

There were only seven participants in 2002, but four years later [2006], 150 people in New York participated and during that event, eight were handcuffed for disorderly conduct, but the charges were later dismissed. By 2013, over 3,000 New Yorkers and 60 countries around the world participated in the event. Improv Everywhere's videos had been viewed over 455 million times on YouTube, and the organization has over 1.9 million YouTube subscribers.

Prague, Hungary - David W Cerny/Reuters - 
Here's how the event works:

● The purpose of the event is to surprise people, make them curious, and make them smile or laugh.

The premise is simple: 1) Dress in everyday clothing from the waist up, just don't wear pants; 2) Ride the set route; 3) Keep a straight face and behave naturally; 4) Don’t let on that you know the other people who are pantsless, except two or three you maybe be traveling with; 4) Be tasteful and hygienic – no thongs; 5) Carry a valid ticket, and 6) Oblige if any “person of authority” (police, Metro employees or others) asks you to put your pants back on.
         Jerusalem, Israel 
Each city participating has a coordinator.
Participants have to sign up but there is no cost to participate.
The date, hours, rules, and route to be followed are posted on the Improv Everywhere Face Book page.
Some cities have meetings of participants beforehand.
The event is not held during rush hours on work days. 
Sydney, Australia-Photo source:
The team leader divides them into smaller groups, assigning their group a specific stop where they will remove their trousers. As soon as the doors shut at the stop, they should stand up and take their pants off and put them in a backpack, briefcase, or whatever.
If anyone asked asks them why they'd removed their pants they should tell them that they were "getting uncomfortable."
Participants should exit the train at their assigned stop and stand on the platform, pants-less, waiting for the next train to arrive so they enter the next train in the same car as they exited the last train.

The ride ends near a place where participants can warm up, dress, and have a drink.

Prague, Hungary - Photo source:
Bangalore,India  Getty Images
 Photo source:

Most the participants are young and most of the females can get away with a lot of leg … but not all. And the men, not so much.
In January 2016, the event happened for the first time in Moscow, Russia. The participants were investigated by the police under the offense of the "instigating of mass public disorder", however the accusations would not stand ground, since the organizers' goal was to make people laugh.
Based on the photos below, some people didn’t get the e-mail about choosing their clothing and acting in good taste.

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New York - Carlo Allegri/Reuters
Photo Source:





Debby said...

I never heard of that day before. It looks a bit cold, especially for the one in that last picture.
debby236 at gmail dot com from FL USA

R. Ann Siracusa said...

Debby, I'd never heard of it either. I'd guess the cold has something to do with the age of the participants, although by the time the body begins to "go", people should have better sense. The day accomplishes its purpose of making people laugh or at least smile.

E.L. F. said...

I have heard of this, but haven't seen it. I think it takes a lot more guts than I have to participate in something like this, lol. Thanks for sharing!

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