A pop-up nightclub in Canterbury Cathedral (Kent)? The hosting of two silent dance festivals in one of the highest places of the Anglican religion, a UNESCO world heritage site, arouses opposition from certain faithful, pushing the Church to defend its desire for openness.
On Thursday and Friday evening, more than 3,000 people are expected for these two “silent discos”. Participants dance to music broadcast via individual headphones and not through speakers. On the program, a playlist from the 1990s, with the hits of the time, from Britney Spears to the Spice Girls, including Whitney Houston and even Eminem and Oasis. A spokesperson for the cathedral confirmed to the BBC that alcohol would be sold on site on the occasion.
The Dean of Canterbury, Reverend David Monteith defended the event, saying it would be “respectful”. “It absolutely will not be a ‘rave party in the nave’,” as opponents have said. However, he understands “that some do not agree with accepting dance and pop music in cathedrals” while specifying that “all kinds of dances have been practiced in the cathedral over the centuries”.
If places are sold out to attend, the concept irritates some, who plan to meet in front of the cathedral to demonstrate their opposition. More than 1,600 have signed an online petition and a rally is planned in front of the building. “Everyone loves Silent Disco (parties), but they belong in nightclubs, not in Canterbury Cathedral,” defends Cajetan Skowronski, initiator of this petition. “This will not attract young people closer to Christ,” he continues. Rather, it will send the message that Christ and his Church and all the truth, beauty and goodness he has to offer, are unimportant. That entertainment deserves our attention more than God.”
Other similar events have already been organized in recent months in other British churches, for which they are also a means of raising funds to maintain these religious buildings.