Metrorail Riders Get a No-Pants Saturday Surprise

Washington Post Express
January 14, 2008
by Marc Zawel

Photo by Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post

Photo by Marc Zawel for ExpressAS A BLUE LINE TRAIN pulled into the Metro Center station late Saturday afternoon, a gaggle of pantless Metrorail riders were laughing at themselves. Onlookers didn’t know quite how to react. But an older woman, who had been sitting quietly since the group boarded at the Foggy Bottom station, got off the train telling Ayodamola Okunseinde, who was dressed below the waist in only purple boxer briefs, that he was “disgusting” and “going to hell.” The artist from Northeast D.C. took it all in stride, proudly relaying the woman’s disgust to the crowded train car as it continued toward the next stop on D.C.’s first “No-Pants Metro Ride.”

Coincidentally, the train’s exterior electronic display said it was running “Special” service. But Metro didn’t sponsor — or officially condone — the no-pants ride, an event started seven years ago in New York by prankster group Improv Everywhere. This past weekend, riders in 10 cities around the world, including the nation’s capital, dropped trou. But for what cause?

“There is no point,” said Richard Julian, 18, a student at George Mason University who helped organize the D.C. ride, as participants, gawkers and media gathered in Dupont Circle around 4 p.m., where the soon-to-be pantless were broken up into groups and given trip itineraries. “Does everything have to have a point?”

Word of the ride spread initially through social networking site Facebook and later through reports in media outlets, including DCist, Express, WTOP and The Post. Metro had warned that those participating risked arrest for indecent exposure or disorderly conduct. But Metro doesn’t have an official dress code, and the fine line between legally lewd and perfectly acceptable was never precisely spelled out.

Photo by Marc Zawel for ExpressParticipants’ reasons for going pantless were vague. “I didn’t have any clean pants,” said one woman who gave her name only as “Drip Dry.” Said another: “It’s an excuse to show off my unshaved legs.” And another: “It’s perfect pantsless weather. Not too hot. Not too cold.”

As the trip got underway and the group began undressing, most Metrorail riders were both bewildered and amused. “What are they doing?” asked a visibly confused older gentlemen. “I feel strangely overdressed.”

Others, who were laughing and pointing, broke out cell phone cameras to document the spectacle. At Dupont Circle, one Metro employee even shouted words of encouragement (“I hope you have some cute panties, girls!”) to those participants who initially seemed hesitant.

Most onlookers, however, preferred to remain fully clothed. Asked if she wanted to join the group, one woman on the Red Line said: “I’m not wearing the right, actually, any underwear right now.” Aboard the Blue Line, a plaid-boxer clad man announced: “There’s too much politics today. We’re doing this for fun. We’re protesting normalcy.” To which an onlooker curtly replied: “Congratulations, you all have guts!”

Photo at top by The Post’s Ricky Carioti; others by Marc Zawel for Express

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