Lonely Planet Writer

New Yorkers brave freezing temperatures for annual No Pants Subway Ride

On 7 January, thousands of New Yorkers made their way to subway stations, took off their pants, and prepared to get on trains. Despite frigid temperatures of 17 degrees Fahrenheit (- 8 degrees Celsius), the unique annual event, unsurprising called the No Pants Subway Ride, was a success, bringing smiles to the faces of surprised and bewildered commuters and tourists alike.

Approximately 4,000 people took part in this year's No Pants Subway Ride in New York City.
Approximately 4000 people took part in this year’s No Pants Subway Ride in New York City. Image by Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images

Organised by Improv Everywhere, a prank collective who describe themselves as “specialising in causing scenes of chaos and joy in public places”, 2018 marked the 17th year that the event took place. Started in 2002, the very first year saw seven people taking part. Now a global event, this year independently-organised, No Pants Subway Rides happened in over 60 other cities, including Adelaide, Berlin, Lisbon, Toronto, Copenhagen, London, Jerusalem, Munich, Amsterdam and Washington DC. The idea behind the event sees random passengers boarding a subway car at separate stops, and despite the fact that none of them are wearing any trousers, behaving as if they do not know each other. Aside from the strange and breezy bottom half, participants wear the usual winter attire such as coats, hats, scarves and gloves. People taking part are of all ages and backgrounds, and usually the ratio of men to women is equal.

“There is no agenda for the event, apart from a desire to make others laugh and smile,” said Improv Everywhere, with the group’s founder Charlie Todd also referring to it as a, “celebration of silliness”. Approximately 4000 people took part in the New York subway ride, which included seven meeting points and eleven lines.

This year, over 60 independently organised No Pants Subway Rides happened in cities around the world.
This year, over 60 independently organised No Pants Subway Rides happened in cities around the world. Image by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images

Each year, the exact date of the event is announced in early December. More information on Improv Everywhere, including how to sign up for the No Pants Subway Ride 2019, is available on the official website.