No Pants Subway Ride
Founder of Hello Fears, a viral movement helping audiences worldwide build confidence, choose growth over comfort, and turn obstacles into opportunities.
On Sunday January 10th I was lucky enough to be part of the No Pants Subway Ride (NPSR) event in New York City. Charlie Todd, the founder of Improv Everywhere, started this crazy tradition 15 years ago when he decided to see how New Yorkers would react if out-of-the-blue he would start to take his pants off in the subway in the middle of winter. His intention was not to offend anyone but to entertain, and that's what he did. When I learned about it I thought that was genius but I never considered doing it since my fears were telling me at least 30 good reasons why I shouldn't do it.
After having faced more than 100 fears already, and completely changing my approach to new experiences in general, I was more than excited to be part of such event. They have a logistic behind the event that really impressed me. They sent out a detailed email with all the specifications. First, we had to pick a location to meet with the other riders and get the instructions, naturally, I picked the one location I guessed Charlie would be at, and I was right! I got to the meeting point with my husband and my brother who came to record us with my GoPro. I was lucky to meet Charlie and take a picture with him, such a nice and humble guy.
As soon as we were divided into groups and ready to walk together to the nearest subway station, it started to rain! It wasn't pouring, it was raining and we all had to walk for 10 minutes or so. We were all soaking wet so taking our pants off was not going to be such bad idea after all. At least the weather was not cold as you would imagine!
So there we were, about to jump into the subway car and do our thing. I was becoming more and more anxious so I decided to go for it before I regretted it! Looking back, I wish I would've chosen a more crowded place to do it but I guess the fear came in the way. It's ok, I have next year to become a pro at this still. Anyways, I started taking my pants off and somehow it felt completely liberating. I tried to maintain a straight face and I think I did a good job at that (at least).
As the subway stopped I got off and waited for the next subway to arrive. Suddenly, I realized that all of the other people waiting for the subway to arrive were pant-less like I was. That moment I felt really good for being part of something. Looking at it from Maslow's point of view, my belonging need was being satisfied, completely, no fomo at this time.
When I jumped back into the subway wearing all of my winter clothes except for my pants, people started to wonder and ask about the point of this stunt. I just answered that I forgot my pants at home like Charlie asked us to do, but as time passed by, more and more people were riding without pants and people were completely surprised, some even started to take their pants off without even knowing the reason behind!
Finally, we all arrived to Union Square and basically no one there had pants on. Thousands of participants taking pictures and fooling around. Belonging all the way. We got off the subway station and enjoyed the nice weather and all the attention going on. From there, we all went to the after party where things got a bit crazy and we decided to leave.
Glad I decided to face that fear and excited to do it again next year! Thank you Charlie for such amazing experience!
To learn more about the No Pants Subway Ride watch the documentary on Netflix: We Cause Scenes, you won't regret it!
Want to bring Michelle to your next event? Let us know here. We'd love to help you make it happen!