The Milanese version of the 2012 “No Pants Subway Ride” was forcedly called to a halt by the local tube army, little more than half an hour after the event kicked off.
Police intervention was needed, so the police officer in charge said, after they had received “thousands of phone calls” from offended Italian travelers (a number that was later toned down to fifty). Ten of the pants-free riders were eventually caught and subsequently taken to an underground concrete office cell normally reserved for clumsy pickpocket-thieves and fare-beaters, while the others waited outside the cell (most of them with their pants on).
Who (if any) actually called the police, is unclear. It is hardly believable, though; that Italians, very much used to TV-shows featuring heavily underdressed females and street ads with Goliath-seized soccer players in Dolce&Gabbana underwear, should take a dislike in some naked legs. In fact: few hours after the preciously aborted flash mob, both the web version of “La Repubblica” and “Corriere della Sera” scoop with a 15-page photo-series of the event, only vaguely referring to the arrest of the very same ladies and gentlemen.
After the eventual release of the arrested group, it has been stressed by the officer – also seemingly embarrassed by the whole situation -, that no eventual charges will be pressed against them.
The “No Pants Subway Ride” wants to turn an everyday habit into a tangible metaphor of social awkwardness, and shows that breaking social habits does not have to equal breaking laws of society. The reaction of the metro security in Milan also shows, however; that some authorities still have troubles identifying irony, and that they cannot cope with harmless forms of subversion.