Pants off on the Metro: Riders strip down for annual event (photos)

Washington’s Metro system was invaded by pantless riders Sunday afternoon.

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Washington’s Metro system was invaded by pantless riders Sunday afternoon. (Photo: Jay Westcott)

Long story short

A few hundred people lost their pants in an annual tradition on Metro yesterday.


The soon-to-be-semi-nude throngs gathered in a small park outside the L’Enfant Plaza station at 3 p.m., where members of Capitol Improv, the group responsible for the event, used a bullhorn to lay out the rules for the ride. Organizers said today marked the fourth year of D.C.’s annual No Pants Metro Ride, which spun off of a decade-old tradition on New York’s subway system. More than 1,000 people had made a non-binding pledge to attend on the event's Facebook page.

Participants were told to enter the L’Enfant station at the same time, board different trains, and de-pants themselves as soon as the trains started moving. They were to act completely normal, as if the pants had merely been forgotten. Once they had sufficiently confused tourists and annoyed Metro staff, they were to converge at the bar Cobalt near Dupont Circle, at which point the pants would be put back on and beers would be consumed.

“D.C. is a very stiff town,” said 27-year-old Capitol Improv member Oscar Soto, explaining why he wanted to ride Metro without any pants on for a couple of hours on a particularly cold and blustery afternoon. “We want to put some joy and laughter in everyone’s day.”

There seemed to be almost as many photographers in attendance as pantless revelers. A colleague of Soto’s with the bullhorn reminded gatherers that waiting for a train at Pentagon without any pants on is completely permissible, so long as you aren’t taking photographs. And referring to a recent attack at L’Enfant Plaza that wound up on YouTube, he also told participants that if they see someone in distress, they should help that person rather than simply shooting video or taking pictures.

“And if any police officers asks you to do something, just do it,” he added.

On that note, at least 200 people poured into the station around 3:30 p.m., a surprising number of whom hadn’t come prepared with farecards, leading to long lines at the fare machines. Once everyone had assembled on the platforms, the journalists and amateur photographers angled to get themselves on a train car with mostly attractive people.

A few dozen riders boarded the first train that arrived — a northbound Yellow Line train not quite half-full. When the train started off with a lurch, everyone began to disrobe. But then the train stopped suddenly after just a few feet, sending the riders hurtling into one another. Laughter erupted on the platform. The train began moving again, and pants were then removed without incident.

A few dozen participants boarded the next Yellow Line train that pulled into the station. It was headed across the river to the Pentagon, where, as promised, the station manager would get on the loudspeaker to tell the pantsless people to stop taking pictures of one another, announcing that “this station is off-limits” to photography.

But going merely one stop to the Pentagon turned out to be an ordeal, as the train wound up idling in the tunnel between stops for more than five minutes. Even the riders without pants on and nowhere to go started to grow impatient, occasionally checking their watches.

“When’s this thing gonna get moving again?” someone finally asked. And for a brief moment there, it was just another day on Metro.

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