This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001



The seventeenth annual No Pants Subway Ride takes place on January 7 (photo courtesy

The seventeenth annual No Pants Subway Ride takes place on January 7 (photo courtesy

Multiple subway locations
Sunday, January 7, $2.75 (subway fare), 3:00-5:00

On New Year’s Day, the Coney Island Polar Bear Club marched into the Atlantic Ocean, braving outside temperatures in the teens. On Sunday, January 7, for the seventeenth annual No Pants Subway Ride, participants will be removing their slacks in a similar climate as they enjoy the freedom of revealing their gams to the delight, consternation, and confusion of fellow passengers. Between 3:00 and 5:00, thousands of men and women will head underground and strip down to their boxers, panties, and tighty-whities (leaving shirts, shoes, and jackets on). Started as a prank by seven guys in 2002, the ride — staged by Improv Everywhere, the prank collective behind such other unusual stunts as Reverse Times Square, Car Alarm Symphony in Staten Island, and Carousel Horse Race in Bryant Park — hit a small bump in 2006, when 150 people participated and 8 were arrested and handcuffed, but the charges were shortly dismissed. As it turns out, it’s technically not illegal as long as the exposure doesn’t get too indecent. (Of course, it is also not against the law for men and women to be topless in Times Square.) Participants should gather, with their clothes on, at one of seven meeting points around the city (Hoyt Playground in Astoria, the Old Stone House in Brooklyn, Foley Square in Downtown Manhattan, Hudson Yards Park on West 34th St. in Midtown Manhattan, the Unisphere in Flushing Meadows Park, the Great Hill in Central Park, and Maria Hernandez Park in Bushwick) and will be assigned a train to ride on; the main rule is that you must be willing to take your pants off on the subway while keeping a straight face — and hopefully having someone around to document it for social media.

You should not document it yourself, and you need to act like you merely forgot to put your pants on or that you were feeling uncomfortable, pretending that it is a coincidence so many others did as well. Be natural about it, as if it’s no big deal; it’s important not to flaunt it or to wear undergarments that are too flashy or call attention to yourself. When it’s over at about five o’clock, there is a pants-less after-party at Bar 13 at 35 East 13th St., with a $15 cover (pants check is available); the festivities include music spun by DJs Dirtyfinger, Shakey, and Hamstaskin, live performances by the Flying Pants Brigade, art installations by Samantha Statin and others, performance art by Krauss Dañielle and Operative Slamdance, and more. And it should be comforting to know that the No Pants Subway Ride has spread to dozens of cities across the globe, including Adelaide, Berlin, Copenhagen, Dallas, Jerusalem, Lisbon, Los Angeles, London, Madrid, Prague, Stockholm, Vancouver, Warsaw, and Zurich.

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