Tag Archives: No Pants Day

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).

No Pants Day and the observer effect

Evil media vampires plot to suck out the fun

Evil media vampires plot to suck out the fun

The Heisenberg uncertainty principle, according to Wikipedia (and the article sounds nerdy enough to be true) is a theory about observation in quantum physics that says you can know the position or momentum of a particle, but not both (it’s an argument used against Star Trek’s molecular transporter device, which the show’s writers conveniently solved with the creation of a mythical Heisenberg compensator). It’s a principle often confused by idiots like myself with the observer effect, in which observing an event alters it. For humans, psychologists call this “reactivity

Today, as I walked to St. Louis Square to participate in Montreal’s first No Pants metro ride, I noticed an abnormally large number of television cameras and professional photographers gathered behind a hilariously small fence. They’d been banished from the group by its leader.

This event, which was supposed to catch metro riders off-guard, got a bit too much media attention in advance. My post begat some others (including one from Dominic Arpin) and culminated in an article in La Presse the morning of the event. From there, it seems to have made every assignment editor’s desk and with nothing else going on today, they decided it would make a great photo op.

Of course, if any of the journalists had familiarized themselves with Improv Everywhere or had bothered to talk to the organizers in advance (only The Gazette and La Presse made any effort to do so), they’d have learned pretty quickly that a giant television camera and journalists with notepads would ruin the entire event.

No Pants metro ride participants

No Pants metro ride participants

Complicating matters was the fact that, despite the attention it got, there were only about a dozen people who showed up to participate. More people came to observe the event than take part in it.

After waiting for stragglers and discussing it with some of the people gathered, organizer Robin Friedman yelled “It’s cancelled!” and everyone went their separate ways.

Later, she told me she was really pissed about the media presence (myself excepted), and slightly less so by the fact that when Facebook says someone’s going to be there, it’s anyone’s guess if that’s actually true.

So don’t expect any big articles or front-page photos about the event in Sunday’s paper. Instead, you’ll read an article next Saturday in the Gazette about how the media ruined Montreal’s participation in a global day of fun.

Unfortunately, it’s hard to publicize an event like this to get enough participants but not so much that the news people get wind of it and blow everyone’s cover. A solution to that problem is being thought out, hopefully in time for Montreal’s Second Annual No Pants Subway Ride.


The event in Toronto seems to have gone off well. The Sun has a story with video (though I couldn’t make it play) and there’s already a video on YouTube as well.

Other regional reports can be found at Improv Everywhere along with the reports from New York.

Montreal’s No Pants subway ride

No Pants Day in New York (Improv Everywhere photo)

No Pants Day in New York (Improv Everywhere photo)

Robin Friedman, who has been behind metro parties, scavenger hunts, bubble battles and other fun free stuff in town, is putting together a Montreal event for Improv Everywhere’s famous Global No Pants Subway Ride next Saturday. New York-based Improv Everywhere has been performing this stunt every January since 2002, having its “agents” ride the subway with no pants on (in the middle of winter) and pretend that it’s perfectly normal.

Here’s the Facebook event. For the benefit of those not on Facebook, the details are as follows:

Meeting point is 3pm at Carré St. Louis (near the fountain). From there, agents will receive further instructions and be sent to nearby metro stations to prepare for the no-pants ride. Bring a backpack to hide your pants in, and don’t wear underwear that’s indecent or is designed to attract attention.

Full details are copy-pasted below.

For those of you worried about the legal implications, the STM’s rules do not require the wearing of pants, though they prohibit being barefoot, subject to a fine of $50-$500. So make sure to wear shoes or boots.

An important note: The event is contingent on at least 25 people participating and will be cancelled if it doesn’t get that amount. So make sure to indicate your presence if you plan on going (and bring your friends).

A similar event is also being planned for Toronto.

UPDATE (Jan. 6): Someone should call the police or something. I would not want my children/nieces/nephews to have to be subjected to this.”

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