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Guru Dudu silent disco walking tours challenge comfort zones in Townsville - ABC News

Traffic stops on the streets of Townsville as dozens of people spontaneously break into song and dance. 

The group is on a silent disco walking tour where participants wear headphones and are encouraged to ditch their reservations as they groove out to old-school hits.

For people like Colleen Doyle, taking part is an unexpectedly "amazing" experience.

A group of children and adults wearing headphones dance with their hands in the air

"I think you're always a bit inhibited if you're an introvert like I am," she says.

"Doing that in public does make you stop and think, am I going to make a fool of myself?

"But you don't take any notice of anybody else around you, just the people you're with, and you actually start having a good time."

The tours are the brainchild of Victorian-based company Guru Dudu and have been one of the most popular attractions at this year's North Australian Festival of Arts.

A group of dancers surround a table of people on the Strand in Townsville

Participants take part in flash mobs, interpretative dance and group singing, often interacting with amused onlookers.

Tour guide Dani Cabs, who uses the moniker Dani Disco, says the concept is all about connection and laughter.

"As adults, we forget to play … because from the get-go we're told to grow up and stop being kids," he says.

"So it just brings joy and play into our lives so we can have better lives and have better communities."

A collection of headphones with colourful stickers

While the tours started out for adults, they are now attended by people of all ages — from toddlers to the elderly.

Participating is a novel experience for nine-year-old Cameron Grace, who enjoys the playlist of songs from the 1970s, 80s and 90s despite not knowing many of the words.

"I just lost myself — it's all so fun, you just get into the music and want to dance and sing along," he says.

A group of people wearing headphones follow a guide as they cross the road towards the ocean

Tour guide Reuben Witsenhuysen, who goes by Reuby Groove, says allowing people to "embrace their inner dork" has broad appeal.

"All of a sudden, that person who has been a bit reserved will just completely break out of their shell and surprise people around them and start performing," he says.

A man in yellow sunglasses and sweatbands wearing a set of headphones.

Guru Dudu also has guides based in London, Brighton and Tel Aviv, and takes part in festivals all around Europe.

"Whether you're experiencing a city for the first time, or you've been living there for 40 years, you're going to have this new kind of engagement with your surroundings through this music," Witsenhuysen says.

"I think that's why it seems to be so successful and so universal around the world."

A group of people hold hands in a dance circle on a beach

This content was originally published here.

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