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6IXISLANDS Group

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Ian Ramirez
Ian Ramirez

Disco Me


It's hard to deny that the disco ball is our most treasured party symbol. Reflecting fractals of light from above the dancefloor and pulling our focus to the center of it, the mirrorball tells everyone: this is where the action is. There is no more reliable witness to the ups and downs of clublife than the disco ball, omnipresent and omniscient. As Tracey Thorn sings in "Mirrorball," the 1996 tune from her group Everything But The Girl, "the lovely mirrorball reflected back them all, every triumph, every fight under disco light."




Disco Me


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Yet, as is the case for many party icons, the disco ball's origins are a bit sketchy. While the disco ball came to power in the 70s as part of the disco era, the origins of the spinning reflector can be traced to nearly 100 years before Donna Summer topped a single chart. 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 colors on wire mesh over the ballroom" and another light (a carbon arc lamp, now embraced by steampunk enthusiasts) flashed on a "mirrored ball."


After almost half a century in the dark, the disco ball made its big return at the dawn of the disco era. New York's disco king, the DJ Nicky Siano, was there for its revival. "It's been around forever, but they weren't called disco balls back then," he tells THUMP. "There was no name like that. When I came on the scene it was called the mirrored ball, because there hadn't been that transition yet; Billboard didn't decide to make billions off an industry that we created, and label it disco."


As a young New Yorker, Siano became enamored with the blossoming club culture of the early 70s. One of his first encounters with a disco ball happened at David Mancuso's famed East Village disco holy ground, The Loft. "I was just 15 and it was so striking how [the mirrored ball] was used. The room had no other light, and when [light on the ball] went out, you were in total darkness."


Siano went on to open his own club, The Gallery, which of course need its own disco ball to rival Mancuso's. "I think the largest mirrored ball at the time was 24 inches, but we didn't want that, we wanted a 36 inch ball. We had to order it special," Siano says. "I just remember when we put it up at The Gallery, people started spinning it and eventually we had to get a special motor that wouldn't tangle up, so we could hang the ball right above the dancers reach. People would still jump up and hit it though."


Siano recalls a time when one of The Loft's 48 inch balls fell on an unassuming dancer's head during a party (mercifully, it was hollow). He also remembers when New York house legend Larry Levan would take mid-set trips to the dancefloor where he would climb a ladder and meticulously spot clean the disco ball's mirror tiles. Levan wanted perfection.


As the disco scene grew in cities like Philadelphia, Chicago, Montreal, San Francisco, and Paris, the disco ball went with it. It would be hard for any particular city to lay claim to the disco ball's origins, but because of how Siano, Levan, and Mancuso used their disco balls as part of the sensory bliss of the disco scene and later, the house scene, it became an integral part of clubbing's formative years.


By the early 00s, disco balls began to return to nightlife's iconography in pieces, refracting light across the video for Sophie Ellis-Bextor's 2001 tune "Murder On The Dance Floor" and immortalizing excess in Who Da Funk's 2002 tune "Shiny Disco Balls." On her 2006 Confessions Tour, Madonna first appeared on stage emerging from a disco ball that had descended from the ceiling while singing her song "Future Lovers" and a cover of disco queen Donna Summers and Giorgio Moroder's "I Feel Love." Similarly, on her X2008 tour, Kylie Minogue first appears on stage atop a mirror-plated disco skull that descended from the ceiling. Except for Justin Timberlake's famous destruction of one on the cover of 2006's FutureSex/LoveSounds, the disco ball has been mostly embraced in the last decade and a half (some would say JT actually likes it too).


Today you can buy a disco ball anywhere from Spencer's Gifts to Bed Bath and Beyond, but in the disco era, they were harder to find. At that time, Omega National Products was making more disco balls than anyone in the world. The Louisville, Kentucky-based company even pioneered the manufacturing of mirror sheets that cover a variety of objects from walls to Rolls Royces.


In the company's early years, Lehring says 20 to 30 young women (during WWII, in particular) led the manufacturing of mirror balls, which ranged in size from two-inches to six-feet in diameter. Many of them came at the request of amusement parks and jukeboxes that wanted to include the balls as part of their attractions. "The dance halls, roller rinks, and speakeasies came after, and we were the ones making them," says Lehring. "As time went on and the foreign market started to make a lot, we began to sell away some of the disco ball molds to other manufacturers."


At its peak, Lehring says Omega made 90% of the world's mirror balls. At that time, their 48 inch balls were retailing for nearly $4,000, a hefty price at the time. "Most Louisvillians weren't aware that most of the disco balls were made here in their city," Lehring says. While the company is no longer the only game in disco ball business, it's still part of their product line (in addition to wine racks and decorative valences). Omega still has some disco balls hanging in the building's windows, most of the archives and photos of some of the more dazzling creations from the last fifty years were lost during an office move. And lest you think the people making the disco balls are club kids themselves, Lehring describes her colleagues as "regular manufacturing people that get up and go to work everyday" who work in what she calls an "overly basic" office. None of us have dyed hair or crazy tattoos or anything," she laughs.


Omega still makes flexible mirror sheets for high-profile disco balls as seen on Dancing With the Stars, the Oscars, and on Madonna's tours. The company regularly fields requests for custom disco balls but often passes. Someone recently asked for a mirror-covered basketball for a bar mitzvah. The city of Louisville even asked the company to beat the current record for largest disco ball in the world, as determined by the Guinness Book itself. It could have effectively made Louisville, mostly known for its baseball bats, the unlikely world capital of the disco ball. For reasons Lehring wouldn't get into, Omega declined the request.


Kentucky's loss is England's gain as the man behind the world's biggest disco ball is British DJ, radio host, and Bestival organizer Rob Da Bank. Rob teamed up with disco legend Nile Rodgers in 2014 to create the largest disco ball of all time. Covered in 2,500 individually mirrored tiles, and standing three stories tall, the structure beat out the previous record holder, presented at a event in Russia DJ'd by Maya Jane Coles in 2012.


Verboten has a number of miniature disco balls hanging in its main room as a tribute to Jeffrey Gamblero, AKA the famed NYC graffiti artist Korn, who was close to the club's inner circle and sadly passed away last year.


"I created the Disco Ball Universe Project, where I placed six smaller disco balls around the room, each having its own a dedicated lighting fixture," Hunt says. "When the room is filled with a good amount of haze it creates a sense of being in outer space and floating in music. It really is something special to witness."


As decades pass, new trends in music come and go and new technologies change the ways lights are used inside clubs but the technology of the disco ball and its presence has remained relatively consistent. In a culture that shifts so rapidly, how could something like a disco ball remain so untouched?


The tour is the latest example of how Swift continues to one-up herself. After her tenth studio album Midnights smashed records, the Eras Tour emerged as one of the buzziest tours of 2023 (and even sparked a Senate hearing about Ticketmaster). Spanning 52 legs and 22 cities, the tour takes viewers on an odyssey through Swift's vast discography, divided into 10 sections for her 10 studio albums.


BoilOver presents their new physical theatre performance, Meet Me at the Disco followed by a post-show community disco. A celebration for International Day of People With Disability, this is sure to be an inclusive and accessible event for all members of the Brimbank community and beyond.


Disco is a popular upbeat electronic music style from the 1970s era. It received its musical influence from Latin, soul and funk, and gained mainstream popularity through artists such as KC and the Sunshine Band, Donna Summer, The Bee Gees and The Jacksons. A disco band that covers popular 70's hits is an excellent choice for wedding receptions, 1970s themed parties, public events and corporate functions. GigSalad has premier disco bands, including exceptional, affordable dance and party bands, available for your next event. Some things to consider when hiring a Disco Band are to make sure you listen to audio and watch video clips. This will ensure that you truly do book the best for your next event! Next, you want to get references. Read GigSalad reviews and talk to people in the area about the band and get feedback. Finally, get a contract. Disco bands will typically require a deposit to secure them for your event, so make sure to read through the contract carefully before contracting the band for your party. 041b061a72


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