Lighten Up Part Five: Let's Disco Down to the Corner
Posted by James Ellis on April 03, 2017 . 0 Comments
The HighLight Bulb Changer: Roots in the Disco Era?? You Don't Say!
I was a professional musician before, during and after the Disco Craze of the 70’s and have a long and intimate relationship with the Glitter Ball’s captivating, almost hallucinatory effects. (I personally can look at this simple gif and feel myself floating away.)
Nothing in the world feels any better than dancing your way into love and laughter when the sparkling ball begins its flashy magic. Although it became iconic with disco, the glitter ball has been used consistently since the turn of the twentieth century and was certainly around when I was a kid.
The first documented appearance of the disco ball goes as far back as 1897, where an issue of the Electrical Worker, the publication of an electrician's union in Charlestown, Massachusetts discusses the group's annual party and its most notable decorations. The group's initials (N.B.E.W.) were illuminated with "incandescent lamps of various colours on wire mesh over the ballroom" and another light (a carbon arc lamp, now embraced by steampunk enthusiasts) flashed on a "mirrored ball.” [Thump]
Leave it to those laugh a minute electrical workers to think of glueing little squares of mirror onto a basketball, then giving it a slow spin while shining multicoloured beams of light onto its many facets…and by George, when done in an otherwise dark room it is guaranteed to dazzle and enchant. I mean it was a seriously cool leap of emotional lighting technology if, in fact, they did think of it. Probably they were just the first ones to get a shout-out, even if it was in their own newspaper.
But to me, the Disco Ball will always represent a cherished, elegant gaudiness… the promise of a good time. a glittering grotto, dark, swirling and well away from the steady glare of reality….. throbbing music, way too loud…. the visceral enjoyment of a learned dance executed smoothly with a partner…with whom I fell in love with every time…. so, as you might imagine, I was in love quite a lot as a young man :)