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A Midwest silent disco

IMG_3378A silent disco is a dance party where the music is heard only through special headphones. At Hush, listeners can choose between three different genres of music from three live DJs. The DJs are designated by a color — red, blue and green — that corresponds to the light/channel on the headphones. The bar doesn’t charge a cover, but it does charge $5 for the headphones. Users pay $5 and leave their ID to get the headphones, they then get their ID back when they return it.

“It’s a super-hard concept to describe and to sell people on, but once people try it they’re hooked,” says Tom Zmolek, production manager and entertainment coordinator for Hush.

He is not lying. As of press time, Hush had 33 reviews on its Facebook page, and all were five stars.

Zmolek is also president of the Court District and is an independent festival and event producer. He has worked on events like Hinterland, 515 Alive, Baconfest, Oktoberfest and more.

Hush also has a full bar and three special signature cocktails — red, blue and green — to go with the colors. The drink’s recipes are a secret. “They’re yummy,” is all Zmolek will say. The signature cocktails are two-for-one between 8-10 p.m. on the weekends.

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Silent discos originally started popping up in Europe about 10 years ago as an answer to after-hours sound ordinance issues, Zmolek says. Soon after, the concept made its way across the pond to the music festival circuit. Only in recent years has it made its way to central Iowa.

“I was working with Mindy Toyne, who operates Silent Disco DSM, a silent disco event company from In Any Event,” he says. “We collectively had decided it was something that needed to be brought to Des Moines. There’s not other silent disco clubs in the Midwest we’re aware of.”

First-timers have many questions upon entering Hush.

Listeners can choose from three different live DJs when they dance. The headphones are designated by color.

Listeners can choose from three
different live DJs when they dance. The
headphones are designated by color.

“What if I don’t like the music?”

Simple — change the channel.

“How do I talk to my friends?”

Easy — take your headphones off. The beauty of a silent disco is that the noise is only in the headphones, and the listener also gets to control the volume of that noise.

Interestingly, the three-DJ system at Hush has created a competition amongst the DJs, Zmolek says, and they’re chomping at the bit to spin at Hush. Since everyone can see the color/DJ playing in their headphones, it becomes a game to see who can get the most listeners. Zmolek recalls when one DJ played “I Want it That Way” by the Backstreet Boys and brought down the house.

“He had 200 headsets on green before the song was over,” he says. ♦



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