Hundreds of New York subway riders, unencumbered by skirts, trousers or modesty, took part on Sunday in a spontaneous showing of leg despite sub-freezing temperatures. The 10th annual “No Pants Subway Ride” organized by the group Improv Everywhere saw hundreds of New York strap-hangers shed outer garments from the waist down, even as they wore seasonally-appropriate jackets, scarves, earmuffs and other winter garb on their upper halves.
At 3:00pm sharp local time, subway riders at six separate meeting points across the city boarded predetermined subway cars, engaging in typically unassuming behavior like reading a magazine or staring off into space. But as soon as the doors shut at the stop before they were due to get off, participants were instructed to stand up, shed their skirts and pants, which were to be secreted into backpacks, and briefcases.
“If anyone asks you why you’ve removed your pants, tell them that they were ‘getting uncomfortable,'” instructions to emailed participants said. Once they exited the train, the commuters stood for a while on the subway platform pantless, providing maximum shock effect to their stunned fellow riders.
Many participants donned their festive skivvies for the occasion, from polka dot bloomers to basic striped boxers, adding another a measure of frivolity to the unusual yearly happening, which also is staged in some 50 other cities in two dozen countries around the world.
The stunt organized by the group Improv Everywhere began in 2002 with seven men riding the subway in their undies and pretending nothing was amiss. By last year it had grown to more than 3,000 people in New York and a couple of thousand more in other cities around the world.