Hundreds of New Yorkers brave freezing temperatures for 'no-pants subway ride'

'It’s just fun to watch the people’s faces on the train when we take our pants off'

Emily Shugerman
New York
Monday 08 January 2018 01:03
New Yorkers go trouser-less for the annual improv Everywhere No Pants Subway Ride

Bundled-up passengers on the New York City subway were treated to an unexpected sight this weekend: Hundreds of fellow travellers riding the rails without pants, just days after a “bomb cyclone” dumped snow more than a foot of snow on the city.

The annual No Pants Subway Ride has become a tradition for some brave New Yorkers, who dare to not only strip in front of their fellow passengers, but also bear the brutal cold of an East Coast winter.

The event started 17 years ago as a prank among friends, and has since spread to include hundreds of New Yorkers – and thousands of people in events across the globe.

Melissa Roman, a New York native, told The Independent this was her third time participating.

“It’s my little New Year’s routine,” she said, smiling through the 19-degree (-7C) cold. “...It’s just fun to watch the people’s faces on the train when we take our pants off.”

The premise of the No Pants subway ride is simple: Passengers meet up in locations around the city, board the train, and – one by one – start taking off their pants. Participants are encouraged to act naturally, and to respond to the inevitable questions with something like: “Oh, I just forgot to put on pants today.”

Eventually, they all converge at Union Square for a photo-op and after party.

This year’s event was complicated slightly by the “arctic surge” that threatened to bring record-breaking low temperatures to the East Coast. Snow still covered the ground as participants poured out of Union Square station in their tighty-whities, dancing and jumping around to stay warm.

Inside the station, slightly less-adventurous riders posed for pantless photos with tourists and danced to the sound of panhandler's music. One subway musician even freestyled a song about the event, the only lyrics of appeared to be: “Don’t need no pants, no, I don’t need no pants.”

Snow falls in Times Square, New York during arctic temperatures

The event drew people from their teens to their sixties, and from as far away as Israel. Nina Lesiga, a 61-year-old participant, said this was her second pantless ride. Her first experience was so positive, she drove down from Connecticut this year just to do it again.

“What I realised is, it was really nothing about taking my pants off,” she said of that first experience. “It was about taking a great adventure to go outside the comfort zone, and it proved to me that I could do a lot more.”

While the participants frolicked and tourists snapped photos, the majority of their fellow travellers continued as normal, seemingly unimpressed. On a train in from Brooklyn, commuters sat silently next to the pantless travellers, absorbed in their books or cellphones. At Union Square, travellers elbowed them out of the way without a passing glance.

Bex, a woman who had participated for the last four years, said this reaction was typical.

“There are people who look at you with a sense of wonderment,” she said, “and then there are those jaded New Yorkers who are like, ‘Oh I’ve seen this before’.”

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