What does it take to get you out of your pants and onto a subway in downtown Toronto? Surprisingly little, as for roughly 300 participants in Toronto’s third annual No Pants! Subway Ride, the answer was the promise of fun.
Shortly before beginning the ride, participants braved the cold to gather in Queens Park to organize and form groups for the event. The basic format consisted of six groups of roughly 45 people. Each group took one car on a train.
Small teams of about five people from each car would take their pants off before each stop, hop out and get on the same car of the train behind the one they started on. In this way the second train gradually filled up with pant-less riders until all of them were on board.
Regular commuters were quite surprised to suddenly find themselves sharing a car with several dozen pant-less riders, all of whom were astutely ignoring one another. While some commuters seemed mildly offended – one staring intently at the ceiling for the duration of his ride – many were amused. Riders had been instructed to avoid any scandalous or overly flamboyant undergarments so as not to offend anyone, and to keep them as inconspicuous as one can be while riding public transit without any pants. Curious commuters were stonewalled by pant-less, poker-faced riders, who would simply respond “I forgot my pants” or “no, I don’t know any of these other people.”
Toronto Transit Security was well aware of the event and had no issues with the pant-less crowd. Two officers in Dundas Station even posed for a few photos.
The No Pants! Subway Ride originated as a stunt done by Improv Everywhere in New York 10 years ago. Since then it has become an annual event and has caught on in 50 other cities around the world where other improv groups carry it out. The ride in New York remains the largest in the world with 3,500 participants.
Not all cities have the opportunity to perform the stunt successfully however. In South Africa, 34 people were arrested and fined $50 US for removing their pants on the train.
Participants in Toronto were a diverse bunch. Most were relatively young as the main method of organizing the ride is through Facebook. Students from several universities including U of T, York University, U of W and Laurentian were present, and some participants travelled from as far away as Windsor.