Attendees were encouraged to wear fun undergarments, but nothing "that might offend people."
Hordes of Londoners rode the Tube without pants on January 8, 2023, as part of the annual "No Trousers Tube Ride." The worldwide celebration—known internationally as the "No Pants Subway Ride"—originated in New York City in 2002 with seven men taking part in the inaugural event. This year's event was the first in two years as it was put on hold during the pandemic. It was also the group's first trip on the Elizabeth line, reports BBC.
Participants arrived in winter warmers and split up at stations around the city to remove their clothing. They rode the Elizabeth line half-suited and booted, paraded across the Paddington concourse and used escalators and ticket machines at stations without wearing pants. The Stiff Upper Lip Society—the London-based group that organized this year's event—said that the event's goal was "to make people laugh" and "have fun." They urged attendees to wear humorous undergarments, but nothing "that might offend people."
🇬🇧 The morning commute can be a bit pants, can't it? 🩲— euronews (@euronews) January 9, 2023
These Londoners strip off for the fist 'No Trousers Tube Ride' since the pandemic. pic.twitter.com/vLtKoe6jH9
Participants of the initial "No Pants Subway Ride" events, who pretended not to know each other, would tell those who asked that they "just forgot" their pants at home. The prank eventually evolved into "an international celebration of silliness," according to Improv Everywhere, the New York City-based comedy collective that founded the international event.
The collective's website states: "The No Pants Subway Ride was created by Improv Everywhere in 2002. It occurred every January in New York City from 2002 to 2020. The mission started as a small prank with seven friends and grew into an international celebration of silliness, with dozens of cities around the world participating each year."
Not every "No Pants" event has gone as planned. Eight people were detained by the police in New York City during the fifth annual ride in 2006, which drew more media attention to the hilarious event. Over the next four years, the number of "No Pants" participants soared from 150 to 5,000 and by 2011, participants were taking part in the annual event in more than 48 cities around the world, reports PEOPLE.
This isn't exactly what you expect to see on the Tube!— BBC London (@BBCLondonNews) January 9, 2023
Dozens of people bared their briefs for London's annual No Trousers Tube Ride on Sunday.
Did you spot them on your journey? 🩲 https://t.co/N8WxilxGo3 pic.twitter.com/fiHGb7ujPU
The event this year was very similar to its predecessors. At their respective stations, participants took off their pants and boarded the trains in groups. "For the remainder of the journey, sit in the Tube as you normally would. Read a magazine or whatever you would normally do," the event says on Facebook. The Improv Everywhere website adds, "The idea behind No Pants is simple: Random passengers board a subway car at separate stops in the middle of winter without pants. The participants behave as if they do not know each other, and they all wear winter coats, hats, scarves, and gloves. The only unusual thing is their lack of pants." Photos taken during the event show people on subway trains casually taking their pants off or getting into trains without their pants.
The Improve Everywhere website also provides an overview of the event's history dating all the way back to its inception in 2002. "The seventh annual No Pants ride had 900 participants in New York and was the first year to go international, with 9 cities joining the fun. In New York, we had to use three separate train lines to accommodate the crowd. For the first time, there were at least as many women as men. This was the first year we invited other cities to participate as well. Rides took place in Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Portland, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Toronto, Washington DC and even Adelaide, Australia," it states about the 2008 edition of the event.
Londoners joined commuters around the world in stripping down to their pants and hopping on to the Underground yesterday for the 12th annual #NoTrousersTubeRide organised this year by The Stiff Upper Lip Society. pic.twitter.com/aKwUan3opS— London Live (@LondonLive) January 9, 2023
The 2006 No Pants Subway Ride overview reads: "The fifth annual No Pants ride was abruptly halted by a cop. All passengers, including those not participating, were forced to exit the train as it was taken out of service. 8 people were handcuffed in their underwear and taken into custody. A month later a judge dismissed all of the charges. It is not illegal to wear your underwear in public in New York City. Just ask the Naked Cowboy. The incident was reported by news agencies around the world. David Letterman made two monologue jokes, about it and staged a No Pants Cab Ride as a parody. Keith Olbermann interviewed Agent Todd about the legality of No Pants. Around 150 people participated in the ride."