One of the UK’s oldest and most important cathedrals is hosting two ’90s-themed silent discos, a move that has proved popular with revelers but sparked a backlash from some Christians, who say a disco has no place in a cathedral.
Bathed in colorful illuminations, clutching glow sticks and wearing headphones that blasted ’90s music directly into their ears, hundreds of people danced well into the night on Thursday in Canterbury Cathedral, Kent.
Founded in 597 CE, the cathedral is the seat of Britain’s most senior bishop, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the head of the worldwide Anglican communion.
The cathedral enthused on social media about the “fantastic atmosphere” created, and another disco is scheduled for Friday evening.
A spokesperson for the cathedral told CNN that the “overwhelming response has been positive, with many people saying how pleased they are that the Cathedral is hosting this kind of event,” adding that the events’ 3,000 tickets sold out in hours.
The Dean of Canterbury, the Very Reverend Dr. David Monteith, said in a statement that the disco is “categorically not a ‘rave in the nave,’” adding that it would be “appropriate to and respectful of the cathedral.”
Meanwhile, Christian protesters stood outside the cathedral on Thursday, calling for the disco to stop, local media reported, while a petition opposing the event started in October had gathered more than 1,700 signatures by Friday afternoon.
It called on Archbishop Justin Welby to “not profane this holy site” with a disco, and said it would show that “Christians do not take their faith or their holy places seriously.”
Monteith highlighted that “cathedrals have always been part of community life in a way much wider than their prime focus as centers of Christian worship and mission.”
“Whether people choose to come to Canterbury Cathedral primarily as worshippers, sightseers, or attendees at our events … it’s always joyous to see them discover this incredible place anew and on their own terms,” he added.
The discos’ organizer, Silent Discos in Incredible Places, has hosted similar events in several other British cathedrals already, saying on Instagram that it works with more than half of the country’s major cathedrals.
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