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Seeking Out The Silence of Abandoned Buildings with Dan Urbex

This week on the No Tracers podcast I am joined by UK based explorer DanUrbex. Dan found a fascination with abandoned places at a young age when he explored an asylum. He has a love for the silence that exists in abandoned buildings and I definitely share that with him. Dive into this episode and hear some of his exploration stories.

0 (2s):

Welcome back to No Tracers, the podcast all about urban exploring. My name is K Enagonio and I am so excited to be back for another week of No Tracers. Just so you know, if you're brand new, this show comes out every Friday at 9:00 AM, Pacific standard time across Spotify, apple podcasts, and anchor. And this week on the podcast, I'm talking to Dan Howell, AKA DanUrbex on Instagram. Dan, I was actually recommended to this guy through a, another Explorer. They were like, you got to get him on the podcast. So I absolutely hit him up. And he was super stoked to be a part of this. And I am very, very excited for this episode.

0 (44s):

But before we get into it, just a couple of housekeeping things. If you guys liked this episode at any point in time, please leave a rating and feedback. If you do that, I will send you a signed photo print from an abandoned place that I have explored. So all you got to do is leave feedback to take a screenshot and send it to me at No Tracers on Instagram. My link is down in the description for you and send me a DM with your screenshot. And I will get you a signed photo to print out to you ASAP. Also on the note of things that you can do to support me. I have a book out about abandoned places that I've explored called No Tracers and urban explorers diary. If you guys want to get a cool coffee table book full of photos and stories from my explorations head to No Tracers dot com slash shop, and you can pick up a copy today, I'll sign it to you.

0 (1m 32s):

I'll send it out to you regardless of where you live and you can either read it, gift it to somebody, or you can just set it on your coffee table and let it let the energy from that book just reside in your space. And I have to think our partner liquid death water. If you guys don't know what liquid death water is, don't worry. There's an ad coming for you in three to

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0 (2m 45s):

Guys. Let's get into this episode with Dan Howell. Dan, can you please introduce yourself and what it is you do to the No Tracers audience?

2 (2m 52s):

Okay. I'm a I'm done or done. I explore in the UK. I'll basically just explore everything, take photos and share it to my Instagram or YouTube. Yeah. And just do it for a lot of fun.

0 (3m 10s):

What got you into exploring what initially made you catch the bug for this, this to almost, I mean, it's still a taboo thing, right? So what made you catch the bug for this?

2 (3m 20s):

It's kind of always been in my blood, I guess. I don't know anyone else in my family who's done it, but I've always had this interest in my mind. Like, oh, I'd love to go to an abandoned building. And I suppose this might sound weird, but I kind of got a buzz similar to what I thought I would get in an abandoned building when I went to like really, really big shops such as BNQ, which is, I don't know what the equivalent of that in America would be, but I just always loved the idea of being in a huge building, like by myself and it being just completely quiet.

2 (4m 1s):

Like I've always been kind of looking for a vibe like that. And I always have a thought for probably since I was about seven, six or seven and when I was 15, oh, you just randomly for project for school, decided to just go do it. Cause I felt like that was probably just the best way to do it. And I went to the remains of an asylum about 20 minutes away from my house and explored that it wasn't anything crazy, but I remember climbing through the window and just being, feeling so much feeling terrified, feeling excited, and it was such a great experience.

2 (4m 48s):

And I remember like nowadays, when I'm in abandoned buildings, I'll just kind of, you know, I've walked around it. I'm not really too nervous, but I was creeping around on like just peeking round to every single corner, just thinking someone was there. But yeah, that's kind of how the initial buzz sort of came in. And since that day I've basically explored like every weekend or every other weekend it's been, it's been really fun. Wow.

0 (5m 18s):

So have you also been exploring during this quarantine? Like, I don't know how it is over in the UK right now, but here in America, we've, we've still been exploring, you know, like there's nobody in an abandoned building, so it's not like, you know, we're going to expose ourselves necessarily to, to this virus if you will. So have you been, have you been exploring during quarantine?

2 (5m 38s):

Yeah. Yeah. I went for the first time, about two weeks ago with one of my friends, she hit me up and I was just, I hadn't explored in about, by that point. It was about four months I fought, I just really need to get back out again. And yeah, that was the only time I've been back out. But apart from that, it's been pretty stricter in the UK. It's been very much just like staying inside and only to go out for the essentials. And it's been a bit too risky trying to go out and explore, but yeah, I did that about two weeks ago. Yeah.

0 (6m 13s):

Yeah. It seems like you guys have been handling this a lot better than we have over.

2 (6m 19s):

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. I think we can say that like complete idiots, it's just a bit manic, but yeah, hopefully we're going to get to the end of it soon and this kind of get it back to what can be considered as normal, but only time will tell. Right.

0 (6m 36s):

For sure. For sure. So when did photography come into play for you? When did you pick up a camera? And when did you start bringing into your, your airbags missions?

2 (6m 47s):

It's always been there since that first day a, when I explored that asylum, I have my camera on me and I did take some photos, but photography is always kind of, well, not always been a passion, I've always taken photos, but I think the passion really started kicking in when I was about 13, 14 years old. And that was just kind of doing your average, like taking photos of nature to taking photos of trees on portraits and stuff. Just kind of the basic stuff, I guess you could call it, but yeah, since day one of exploring, I've always taken photos and just gradually over time, a lot improved and yeah, just experiments with it and just had a lot of fun.

2 (7m 31s):

I think that's the main thing about photography just to have fun with it and not necessarily take it to seriously and kind of this same with exploring just like, cause I'm always kind of seeing stuff about drama in the obits community and I'm just, it's fun to watch from the sidelines, but like why drama? Just like, it's such a simple hobby. Why would people kind of M argue about it? But yeah. Yeah. They make it like, well to complicated. Like literally all we're doing is like walking around buildings and taking photos. It's it's not that deep, but yeah.

2 (8m 11s):


0 (8m 14s):

So speaking of like photography and stuff, what gear would you recommend for like new explorers? Like this could be a pair of shoes or kicks or craps, whatever you want to call this

3 (8m 27s):


0 (8m 28s):

A backpack maybe, or even like what camera you shoot with, what is some gear that you would recommend

2 (8m 37s):

In terms of a camera? I would say anything realistically, I don't think you need a $1,000 or a 1000 pound camera to take a great photo. I think it's more about the idea and the process of taking that photo rather than the actual quality of it. So, you know, if you've got a smartphone or if you've got a cheap camera, it doesn't matter what you've got, you know, take it with you and you know, don't worry about what gear you've got. It's about how you use it at the end of the day. So yeah, I would say anything for a camera shoes on, I can't really say much really exploring like big boots on normally just kind of put on these, these old vans that I've always worn and they're like, the stitching is coming out.

2 (9m 25s):

They're filthy, like they're designated exploring shoes, but yeah, I think in terms of gear, a mask is always good. I'd say if there's very cameras or if there's asbestos, I think when mosque is always a good shower and water or any kind of drink, cause you know, you've got to stay hydrated, but yeah. In terms of certain gear, I don't think it's just kind of up to you what you think you will need, but definitely bring some kind of camera, definitely some drink and some food as well.

2 (10m 6s):

Just keep your essentials on you and yeah, just pretty much that and whatever else you think you'll need.

0 (10m 13s):

Yeah. I think gear is a very like personalized thing in the urbex community. Like everyone's got their like certain things they bring with them. Like, and so I just wanted to get, to get your opinion on that. Let's talk about social media real quick. W how did that like help you grow as not only a photographer, but as an urban Explorer? Like we have you used it to connect with other explorers, like tell me a little bit about your social media life. Oh, a hundred

2 (10m 37s):

Percent. When I first made my Instagram, it was literally the day that I got back from my first explore. I thought, Roy, I've never, like, I've never made an Instagram account at that point. I thought, you know what, I'm going to go for it and just make it and just have like, initially it was just going to be for my own personal use to so I could post all my photos on there and to see the progress. But gradually over time as my pace grew, you know, can I get to a hundred followers to a hundred followers and get into a thousand followers? Now I'm getting close to 10,000 followers on just it's, it's definitely motivating to have people who are interested in my work. And it definitely kind of pushes me more when I'm out to go for those more complex shops and to try and go for something a bit different, I suppose. But at the same time, I don't want to get figures kind of stuck in my head and this kind of misused my influence. Like if you've got a decent sized following, when I think is good to use it for good. And you know, if you've got it, then you might as well use it. So, you know, I think certainly did help and yeah, I've definitely used it to link up with a lot of people.

2 (12m 5s):

And again, that's another great use for Instagram. Like people can have the bugs for that, but I think it's great for meeting new people and just interacting with people and talking to people about relatable things, because I haven't really got many friends who were interested in this and it's nice to have a conversation with anyone about aerobics and yeah, I think the community is good for the most part. And I think it's, it's, it's quite a social kind of thing as well, I think. But yeah, Instagram has definitely helped with a lot of stuff for sure.

0 (12m 41s):

And then who are some of the people that you follow as other urban explorers on Instagram? Like who do you, who do you, I guess look up to, or who do you enjoy seeing their content?

2 (12m 52s):

Oh God. So many people I'd say, ah, that's a really difficult question. Just a lot of people to inspire me, but I think the one that stands out the most is probably Greg abandoned. I really like his stuff. Like they're always like whenever he drops, it's just such a major thing and I'm not, his shorts are fantastic. And I really love when he posts. So I'd say probably him, if I had to choose

0 (13m 28s):

Nice. And what has been your scariest exploration?

2 (13m 37s):

It's nothing crazy. I haven't seen people or ghosts or anything like that, but I went to this care home last year and I went alone because that's kind of what I was mostly into it that time. Ah, so when the easily got in those curious, quite easy, normally if a location is swollen off, I'll, I'll kind of quickly skim through everything and make sure that I'm in there alone just cause it kind of puts my mind at ease sometimes. So I did that and then I thought, right, let's get shooting. So I set up in, I assume it would have been an old residence room and I was taking some portrait photos.

2 (14m 24s):

So I was setting up my camera on the tripod, putting on a timer, then running into frame, then taking photos sort of stuff like that. And when I walked back to my camera, I've taken the shot. I heard some footsteps coming down the corridor and I thought it had been raining at the time. So I thought, oh, it might be just kind of rain dripping from the roof, but I could quite clearly hear the footsteps moving towards me and I just frozen place. And I was just thinking on what the hell is that? So I looked down the corridor saw absolutely no one and all of a sudden, which again is a really random thing.

2 (15m 6s):

A very strong smell of suncream just hit me right in the face. I don't know why specifically that I've always wondered why, but yeah, it's just kind of your basic footsteps and just a weird smell coming across. But yeah, nothing crazy, but I'd say that's probably my scariest experience because I was at the time quite together. Yeah. That's I mean, that sounds terrifying footsteps

0 (15m 35s):

Anywhere, especially when you're supposed to be like, like alone in a building, you know, like, and you hear footsteps, you're like, oh this could be any literally anything to exactly. Yeah. Oh my God. So what about your favorite exploration? Wow. Favorite

2 (15m 55s):

Exploration. I've been thinking about this for a while and it's a tough one to choose, but I'd say my favorite one so far is probably Pontins holiday park, which is about an hour away from me. It's Pontins is basically a very popular holiday destination sort of by the coast here in Norfolk and probably around everywhere else in the UK. And this one closed down in 2004, I think probably down to finances I believe. And first time when there was in fact, I think that was my second explore. I think that this was about a week or two after I did that asylum.

2 (16m 37s):

So I rocked up there. There was a massive gap in the fence, easy enough to get in, but to stray away when I saw everything there, I saw the, the old chalets where people would have stayed and the old swimming pool, the old M O there was like a big a hole there, there was a pub just kind of seeing everything there kind of gave me, it was kind of like Chernobyl kind of vibes. I've never been, but I feel like the kind of emotions that I felt when I was there, I'd get similar to if I was in Chernobyl, because it was very much like a small abandoned town.

2 (17m 17s):

And just as I was walking around and there were some parts in particular that really kind of hit me. There was old kids' drawings there that was still stuck on the wall when there was like an old go-kart track. It was just a really fun explore. And I didn't really realize it at the time. The first time I went, like how, how much of a, a great Explorer it was, but I've been back a few times since, and every time I've gone, I've just absolutely loved it. But I think for sure, that's my favorite just because this certain feeling that I chase for when I go to abandoned buildings, that was the one that's hit at the most, for sure.

2 (17m 60s):

I could spend all day there and just kind of take in the, the old memories oozing out of every single wall of every single building there, but it was a really, really great experience. Wow.

0 (18m 14s):

That sounds amazing. Do you explore alone or with people? Do you have a preference?

2 (18m 22s):

So if you ask this to me about a year ago, I would have said just straight up alone, because I think by that point, I'd only to explored with some on about two times out of maybe 40 explores. And again, I think back then it was more just out of M preference that I like to go on to these places by myself and just kind of go on there, having some thinking time and stuff like that. But I'd say right now I don't really have a preference. I kind of do both, but I much prefer exploring with people now because I'm much more into the, the whole social aspect of it and meeting new people and just having a good time. So I think right now I prefer to explore with people for sure.

0 (19m 9s):

Yeah. Got you. And what has been a place with your favorite history? I'm, I'm huge on like the history of abandoned buildings and abandoned locations. So do you have a place with the, your favorite history or like an interesting history?

4 (19m 24s):

Yeah. Yeah. I, I'm not, I haven't really looked properly into the history of all the places I've been to, but one that I did was a house nearby called Laurel farmhouse, a pretty well known kind of in the Norfolk area where I live. And I'm pretty sure this is right. So when I, when I, I saw, I assumed it was a family house cause I went upstairs and some of the bedrooms had cots on a kid's toys. So I kind of assumed it was like a young family with a couple of young children, but looking into the history, which was quite interesting, the family moved in, in the 1970s and back then, that's kind of when there were a young family to young kids when they all grew up and the kids moved out in their early twenties, I believe.

2 (20m 20s):

And the parents found it quite hard to live without the kids there. So as soon as they moved out, they got all of their children's old kids' toys, they're all cotton stuff like that and moved it back into their bedrooms. So they could kind of imagine that they were still kids, which was just quite airy when I went back there and just kind of keeping that in my mind. And I'm not really sure what's happening to them now, but that's kind of that history definitely did spiked my interest in the building, but I'd say, yeah, I think that's probably the most interesting history of a place I've into.

2 (21m 5s):

I quite like that place.

0 (21m 6s):

Nice. Nice. And do you have any goal places, places you haven't been yet that you want to go? I'm sure Trenoble is on your list just like it is online.

2 (21m 16s):

I exactly, yeah. I think it's, it's definitely a goal place for every Explorer. So definitely that's on there. I don't know. I quite like the look of some of the chateaus in France. I'd love to go there and help a few cars. Some places that I see people posting just look insane and maybe Belgium as well. I don't know. I just like to explore everywhere, but yeah, I think those are probably the highlights of the places that I need to go too in my lifetime to show off and explore.

0 (21m 53s):

Definitely. If you could live in one place you've explored for week, which one would it

2 (21m 59s):

Be? Okay. This is my favorite question. By the way, I love this question. The concept of it. I think if I had to live in one of the locations that have been to for a week, I think, I think it would be, yeah, I think it would be an abandoned mansion that I went to in February this year, just because I didn't spend enough time though, when I initially went, but when I was there, I kind of thought I'd just love to spend the night there. And I think spending a week would be great, but I think it would be that just because I love the architecture of it.

2 (22m 42s):

It's a stunning building and I don't think I could ever get bored of it really in a week on. So if I have the on limited supplies or the a week supply of food and drink and entertainment as well, then I'd definitely stay there for a week.

0 (23m 4s):

Awesome. That's awesome, man. I, yeah, you're a, the second person that's said a mansion on this podcast. I think that, you know, and it's something I totally overlooked because like personally, I don't really explore many houses. I just, I just don't, I, I prefer like asylums and churches and hospitals and like water parks, things like that. So I haven't really done too many thousands. So it's so interesting to hear when people are like super into like big mansions that are abandoned or houses and stuff like that. So, yeah, that's super cool. What is the farthest you've traveled to explore?

2 (23m 39s):

It's almost enough in crazy. The further side when I was actually for that much. And it was about, let's say 500 miles. And that was for a specific road trip where main to other explorers when up to the north Wonderland, exploring on a grubby, which explores when I went up there and stayed in the cottage for a few days and just explored a bunch of places. And I think that's the furthest to feel that I've been so far, but I definitely have plans to go farther.

0 (24m 12s):

All right. Nice. And my last question for you is what is something, you know, now that you wish you knew when you started exploring

2 (24m 29s):

Another good question, something on now? No, I wish I knew me when I started. I think, I think one thing in particular is to enjoy it more because certainly when I first explores, I, I feel like I didn't really, I feel like I didn't really go there for the sake of enjoying, exploring. I feel like it was more about, excuse me. I think it was more about going there and getting the photos and going. So I kind of wish back then, I knew to appreciate these places and kind of taking the mood a lot more and just, yeah, don't get too caught up in the camera, but kind of put that down for about five, 10 minutes and kind of walk around and take everything.

2 (25m 24s):

And so I think that would be that

0 (25m 28s):

Nice. And if people want to follow you on social media, if they want to see some of your video content, if they want to pick your brain a little bit more, how can they find it?

2 (25m 38s):

So my Instagram handle is Dan on, on my YouTube is done of X. So hit me up on there and yeah, checked me out.

0 (25m 50s):

I've had all different types of explorers on this podcast. We're trying to get ahold of other people like exploring with Josh and Colby. Some of the, you know, the more, I guess you could say, well-known explorers from social media and YouTube and things like that. So if anybody out there knows those guys, or if you want to hear them on this podcast, do me a favor and tag them in my posts on Instagram at No Tracers, or you can tweet me at K Enagonio. I'll put my links to my socials down in the description for you guys. If you would like to do that, if you would like to further support what I'm doing here on No Tracers, you can support me through Patrion. Actually, if you go to the letter K, or look in the description, there'll be a link for you.

0 (26m 32s):

There, you get early access to all of my content. I do a lot of things. I make music. I have two podcasts. I am a videographer, a content creator. So I make tons and tons of. So you get early access. I do monthly Skype calls with my Patrion supporters, live streams. I also give a signed to photo prints away. And if you do want to sign photo print, but you don't want to support me on Patrion, all you got to do is leave a rating on this podcast on iTunes. It helps the podcast grow in the charts. It helps more people find us and your rating and your feedback really does help this show. So if you've got like 30, literally like 30 seconds to leave a rating and feedback, I will send you a signed photo print.

0 (27m 12s):

All you have to do is take a screenshot of your feedback. Send it to me at No Tracers on Instagram, in a DM. And I will send you out a signed photo print, check out liquid death. If you guys are looking for some delicious water, I've been drinking it nonstop for the past couple of months and I back into a a hundred percent. So if you guys are looking for a trusted water company, definitely check out liquid death. You've probably seen their ads all over the place. Thank you, liquid death for sponsoring this podcast. It means a lot to me. You guys are my first sponsor after all. Thank you guys for listening to this episode. If you're new to No Tracers, please hit that subscribe button. New episodes come out every Friday at 9:00 AM. Pacific standard time.

0 (27m 52s):

I will talk to you guys next week with another one, stay strong, keep enduring, go out, go create something and remember leave no trace.

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