Men and women are dancing wildly on an outdoor deck amidst strobe lights and smoke, but there's no music to be heard -- unless you're wearing headphones. This has become a common scene past 11 p.m. at Bracco's bar and restaurant on the Nautical Mile in Freeport, where a noise ordinance has brought a new type of late-night partying to the South Shore called "quiet clubbing."
Everyone on the dance floor is jammin' to music they're hearing through wireless headphones, rented for $10 on the spot.
"When I put my headphones on, I'm in my own world," says Danielle Walters, 25, of Rocky Point. "If I take them off, I'm in reality."
First-timer Kim Jernick, 26, of North Babylon, is an instant fan. “No one else knows what you’re doing,” she says of those not wearing the headphones, “and that’s awesome. It’s like a hidden secret.”
On the Nautical Mile, a noise ordinance mandates venues cut off outside music by 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Bracco's turned to quiet clubbing in August to keep the party going.
"Our place used to half empty out at 11 p.m. -- now we have people dancing up till 3 a.m.," says general manager Michael Masone. Bracco's will continue quiet clubbing tonight and tomorrow before it moves a few doors down to Cleary's By the Water Sept. 20.
On this night, the headphone-wearing crowd is all hearing the same music being spun live by headliner deejay Theo Pisani of Commack. Other quiet clubbing events -- including this weekend's -- offer patrons a choice of three music channels (hip-hop/R&B, '80s and Top 40).
"It's different and interesting at the same time," says Pisani, in the midst of his first experience spinning a quiet clubbing event. "But I think that the whole element of nightclub life is lost a little bit when everybody is quiet with headphones on."
While some think wearing headphones makes the whole communal experience of club dancing less social, others beg to differ.
"Everyone is doing their own thing, but you are all having a good time together," says Michelle Cona, 26, of Freeport. "It's very social for being so quiet."
William J. Petz, founder of Quiet Events, the company that provides the equipment, believes the novelty of the experience fosters camaraderie among patrons.
"When you take your headphones off, you can have a normal conversation without screaming," he says. "It also gives you an instant conversation ice breaker."
KIND OF FUNNY-LOOKING
If you're not wearing the headphones, the scene on a quiet clubbing dance floor looks like a bizarre comedy sketch, with dancers singing out loud and moving en masse like an out-of-sync Zumba class. Many people walking the Nautical Mile stop to stare.
At first glance, "it looks dead," says Kevin Michael, 23, of Massapequa. But he tries on a set of headphones and reassesses. "Wow! With the headphones on, it's insane."
Several customers are just happy to have an alternative for music past the curfew.
"Normally at 11 p.m., we have nowhere to go," says Tiffany Caponi, 37, of Inwood. "Now with the headphones, it's an amazing situation."
"It's better than nothing," says Jason Litwack, 23, of Oceanside. "Without music, it would be boring."
WHEN | WHERE 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Bracco's, 319 Woodcleft Ave. in Freeport
INFO 516-378-6575, facebook.com/braccos
ADMISSION $10 headphone rental
WHEN | WHERE Beginning Sept. 20, 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays at Cleary's by the Water, 42 Woodcleft Ave., Freeport
INFO 516-415-7675, clearysbythewater.net
ADMISSION $10 headphone rental