No Pants Metro Ride revealed

You might recall last week Montreal attempted its first No Pants Metro Ride. Only there were more journalists than participants and the organizer decided to cancel it.

Here’s the thing:

No Pants participants (that's me on the left)

No Pants participants (that's me on the left)

Don’t believe everything you hear. There was a No Pants ride, it just wasn’t covered. Until now.

Everything I told you in last week’s post actually happened. There weren’t enough participants, and the organizer did yell “It’s cancelled” prompting people to take off in different directions.

But before that, she whispered to participants that they would regroup elsewhere, away from the prying eyes of the media, so they could perform this stunt properly.

Surely, I thought, that wouldn’t actually work. The TV people would just follow everyone into the metro. But it did. Everyone left in small groups, some walked to Mont Royal metro from St. Louis Square (a long, cold trek I might add).

From there, the plan was to regroup at Jean-Talon, near the last car on the Snowdon-bound platform.

Unfortunately, along with the media, the group lost all but eight of its members, including the five above (others didn’t want to be photographed pantsless).

Pantsless on the metro after all

Pantsless on the metro after all

They decided to proceed. A single car, with eight pantsless participants spread around, pretending not to notice each other. The media was represented by a single person, The Gazette’s Amy Luft (who went through the trouble of actually talking to organizers beforehand and didn’t come with a photographer). She writes about the event in today’s paper.

Since Amy was already covering it, I decided to go as a participant instead of a journalist. When the time came, I removed my pants, and placed them in my bag. As you can see from the photo above, I had shorts on. This I considered a public service, as nobody wants to see me walking around in my underwear, even as a stunt.

During the event itself, what seemed to disturb me most was how little the crowd reacted. Some giggled, some looked twice, but most just sat there, thinking either nothing was strange with people pantsless in January, or that it wasn’t worthy of their attention.

Unfortunately, there weren’t any photographers present (beyond my really crappy cellphone). The top photo was taken at Berri-UQAM, after we had finished, just in case someone needed proof that people had indeed taken their pants off.

Although the event ended up happening, there’s still a lot to learn for next time. How to deal with the media, how to photograph the event without people noticing, and how to get more participants to show up.


Reports from other No Pants events have come in. Improv Everywhere has a summary of what happened in New York, with links to similar events around the world. Improv in Toronto has a report about their event (the second-largest behind New York).

14 thoughts on “No Pants Metro Ride revealed

  1. Christelle

    To photograph future events, ask a fellow blogger you trust… Tell the participants this person will take pics of them. And the blogger can just follow the group, from a distance, like a by-stander, but the participants all know it’s a blogger/friend. :P

  2. Mama Fagstein

    Nice!!! Just what I want to see first thing Saturday morning. My son the journalist without his pants in the metro. I’m so proud to show this off to the family.

  3. Ebenezer Z. Pishpoot

    On seeing this photo, I am somehow reminded of that famous phrase from Valleyspeak:

    Gag me with a spoon.

  4. Jean Naimard

    There was no reaction because we (the french) don’t really care. You see, we’re not busybodies, we truly value freedom. We don’t shove our way of doing things down the throat of others.

  5. Peter

    “During the event itself, what seemed to disturb me most was how little the crowd reacted. Some giggled, some looked twice, but most just sat there, thinking either nothing was strange with people pantsless in January, or that it wasn’t worthy of their attention.”

    Why would it “disturb” you that the people didn’t react to it? It sounds more like you were disappointed that people didn’t react with sufficient intensity to amuse you and the other pant-less riders. I really don’t understand the purpose of this event. Is it an experiment on the observer effect or a stunt that seeks to elicit a reaction from an unwilling observer, in order to amuse the performer. If it’s an experiment, then it was successful in that results were obtained; most people won’t really pay attention to a few people riding the metro without pants. This isn’t very surprising, given all the other strange things that happen on the metro everyday.

    I suspect, however, the main goal was to elicit a response. It’s kind of like you were putting on a theatre show, except the audience had no choice but to be involved. Their only way to opt out was to ignore it, and from what you say it seems most people did. The average person will not willingly put themselves in a position to potentially be the butt of a joke (a la candid camera), nor will they go out of their way to confront people who, although behaving strangely, are keeping to themselves. Eight people sitting on a metro train without their pants on is obviously a stunt. If more people had laughed, blushed or turned away, than that would be a sign our city is full of prudes. If they had confronted you or called you guys freaks, then that would be a sign of intolerance.

    Ultimately, events like this just add to the constant noise we are bombarded with every day. Advertisements and public marketing events, although mostly a minor annoyance, at least provide a potential benefit to the average person. Political stunts attempt to raise awareness for a cause. No-Pants Day? It’s just self-absorption. I suppose this events like this aren’t really harmful, but we need less noise, not more. It’s no surprise people ignored it. We regularly walk by homeless people and drug addicts with nary a thought. Now THAT”S disturbing. A few people without their pants on? Yawn…. What’s really disturbing to me is that a group of people, who surely are not lacking in energy, motivation, talent and organizational skills will go to the trouble of organizing and participating in things like this.

    1. Fagstein Post author

      One might also argue that the world needs more fun, not less. That’s the reason behind the No Pants ride and much of what Improv Everywhere does.

  6. morningstar

    Please – please – explain to this “old lady” why ………

    a) one would WANT to go pantless in January in Montreal??
    b) what the point was to going pantless – what statement were you hoping to make??
    c) and why do the deed – if yo don’t wish to be photographed for posterity???

    This “old lady” just doesn’t get the point to it…….. in my day we demonstrated against things like war.. and inequality and boring stuff like that…..


  7. Pingback: Video: Montreal’s 2013 No Pants Subway Ride – Fagstein

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