The UTC event uses headphones to allow participants to be in the moment.
Although passersby might not have understood the energy and enthusiasm that was taking place at the Silent Disco Cinco de Mayo celebration May 5 at the Green at University Town Center, those participating were feeling the beat.
“Look at the lights. Look at the trees. Look at the atmosphere. I mean, come on. It doesn’t get any better than this,” Lakewood Ranch's Joann Scott said.
The UTC event drew a capacity 200 participants and was held in partnership with Silent Vibes, which offered participants headphones which they could use to personalize the volume of the disco music.
Also featured were tacos from Poppo's Taqueria, beer and margaritas from Origin Craft Beer & Pizza Café, and boba and other teas from Tea Days available as purchases or as free samples.
The founder of Silent Vibes, Alicia Waldner, said that the services of her Tampa-based company were driven by her own experience with her first silent disco in Los Angeles. Then a workaholic, she said she suddenly felt transformed in what she called “a breakthrough of being present in the moment.”
“All of a sudden, I cried,” she said. “I hadn't cried in years. … So now I've kind of restructured how I live my life and built my businesses off of that, and I'm so much happier.”
Waldner said the company offers events nationally, having just hosted one in Utah. “I'm hoping that UTC calls us back,” she said.
Ashley Cooper, a public relations and marketing coordinator for Benderson Development, said it was fitting the organization was able to team up with Silent Vibes and offer a different spin on a Cinco de Mayo celebration.
“I think everyone kind of has their own idea of how they really want to celebrate Cinco de Mayo,” she said, noting that the holiday does not necessarily follow a strict set of traditions. “That's why giving people an alternative option was really something that we wanted to try out.”
Waldner said the headphones offer a different experience.
“It allows them to be in their own world that lets them focus. So when you're here, you're in your own element, and it lets you just sink in more.”
Feedback from attendees, who varied widely in age, echoed Waldner’s comments.
“It was something that I always wanted to do, so I was excited when they posted it on Instagram," said Lakewood Ranch's Laura Gomez, who is 25. "It’s cool because you hear the music, but you can’t hear anything beyond the headphones, so you let go and dance the night away. It’s a good idea, and hopefully we continue to do things like this.”
Lakewood Ranch's Carol Botts watched the dancing from a chair along with her husband, Ron. “I'm always interested in having a new experience," she said. "It's fun watching people enjoying Cinco de Mayo.”
Late in the event a dance-off competition was held, with results decided based on audience applause. The winner was 12-year-old Vincenzo Pino.
“I felt the freedom of having lots of creativity," he said. "I had a lot of support from the people here. This was a great experience overall.”
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