Culture

New Yorkers Went Pantless On The Subway For, Uh, Reasons

Commutes can get pretty boring pretty quick, even if you’re riding a transit line as famous as the New York City subway.

Every day it’s the same thing: you hop on the train, stare out the window for a little bit, hop off, do a day’s work, then return to the subway, hop on, stare out the window for a little bit, hop off. Rinse and repeat, ad nauseum, for a few decades, before you get old enough to retire. And you’re wearing pants the whole time.

It’s not exactly thrilling stuff, so who could blame a legion of intrepid New York travellers for changing things up a little bit?

On one day each January, the New York subway fills with pantless commuters. The annual tradition, known as the No Pants Subway Ride has no real purpose. It’s not designed to raise money for charity.

 

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Nope. The No Pants subway ride is nothing more complicated than an excuse to leave your pants at home, ride the subway in your boxers or your briefs, and “celebrate silliness”. That’s how organisers Improv Everywhere put it.

 

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The event began its life as a pretty excellent prank between a couple of mates: seven of them hopped onto the subway pantless, and all pretended not to notice each other. When asked where their pants were, each claimed they had merely forgotten them.

From those humble beginnings way back in 2002, the No Pants event quickly caught on, with New Yorkers fully embracing the bizarre tradition. This year marked the 18th iteration of the No Pants Subway Ride, which occurred at 3pm on Sunday January 13.

It’s even extending its reach internationally, with events held in 24 cities worldwide including Brisbane, Montreal, Lisbon and London (where they call it the No Trousers Tube Ride because alliteration and also pants means underpants there).

 

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To be honest, Down Under we’d have a more pleasant time of it than the Americans – New York gets extraordinarily cold in January.

Improv Everywhere has a history of turning some of the most everyday moments into extraordinary encounters, like a magical porta-potty, a randomly placed professional orchestra anyone could conduct, and a public dance captain audition.

These random encounters might seem like your worst nightmare, but we say bringing a little more silliness to the world is a good thing.

(Lead image: Improv Everywhere)